Finding words

Broken Peace CC0 cogdog (Flickr)

Someone died today in #Charlottesville because an ideology of hatred marched through the city, wanting battle.” – Deray Mckesson

Three people died today in Charlottesville, Virginia because people have not just been taught to hate, they’ve been taught that it’s important to hate in public.” – Ira Socol

I’ve got no words. Not now. Not this week. Not today.” — Audrey Watters

I sit here right now, carving precious time on a Sunday to write. #phdchat and all that. But I’m thinking of all that has happened in Charlottesville, VA this weekend, after all that has happened this week, this month, this year, these years… People — overwhelmingly people of colour — are being killed, injured, deported, jailed, while the President of the United States, obscenely, emboldens white nationalists, white supremacists, and misogynists.

Something is breaking.

I am trying to find words today. I find a memory.

1998. My husband’s PhD graduation. I remember standing with my infant son in my arms, my 4-year-daughter tugging my arm, asking, “Mummy, when will you get your PhD?”. With two Masters degrees, a head bursting with ideas, and a passion for social justice and for research, I saw that path ahead — but when? In that moment I answered, “When I’m a granny”. It was only partly in jest. Two parents working, two young children, living far from both our families. I couldn’t imagine doing PhD research also. I continue to be inspired by all who do just that — many with far fewer resources and privileges than I have had. Fast forward 15 years and I registered for that PhD. (And no, I’m not a granny.)

2017. I’m deep into dissertation writing, planning to submit in November. But I’m struggling.

I always knew this research would take time from the beating heart of my life — family, friends, community — perhaps in ways that work and other commitments did not. But, I’ve managed. We’ve managed. The challenge I didn’t count on was separating myself from the world. So, I’m struggling to find words today.

I believe that “open education is a tool for social change”. I’m writing about open education using a critical approach, based on the voices and stories of academic staff, many of whom are precariously employed, as well as students. Throughout all of this work I am connected to and inspired by many scholars — in South Africa, Kenya, India, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the US, and across Europe — who also see open education as a way of increasing access to education, decolonising education, and decreasing inequality. 

My overwhelming feeling right now, however, is that words are not enough. 

“Soot in our mouths.” – Kate Bowles

But these are all I have today.

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Image source: Broken Peace, CC0 by Alan Levine 

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