Out of Place

In Bernice Johnson Reagon’s “Coalition Politics” she uproots and redefines conventional notions about coalition work and exclusivity within groups. Traditionally and still today, many people envision coalition work as an opportunity to convene with people whom share similar perspectives on social justice issue—an opportunity to be safe. Reagon, however, demonstrates the ineffective nature of this approach. In reflecting on the dialogues on campus about social justice issues, the logical nature of Reagon’s position shines through. Oftentimes, the majority of people who attend campus discussions about race on campus are either students of color or allies. This trend similarly plays out in other topics of discussion on campus, in which the majority of students have been oppressed in some form or another or are allies to the oppressed. Although community building in this way has significance and impacts change, as Reagon suggests, we must also not be afraid to step into the arenas that are not comfortable or familiar—the arenas in which our voices and unique perspectives are not welcome but need to be heard because it is in this way that coalition work is furthered.

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