By Rachel Jason
On March 25, 2021, Dr. Crystal J. Lucky, an Africana Studies educator at Villanova University, delivered and hosted a wonderful discussion to the faculty and students of Garnet Valley High School.
Her presentation focused on the steps we, as a community and society, must take to create inclusivity around us. Dr. Lucky’s presentation was inclusive, honest, and captivating.
She began her presentation with 10 rules for having conversations,
- Remain present. Commit to listening.
- Listen openly and fully to understand.
- Always speak from your own experience.
- What’s shared here, stays here. What’s learned here, leaves here.
- Challenge the idea, NOT the person.
- Assume good intentions.
- Lean into discomfort.
- Be comfortable with silence.
- Avoid assumptions and generalizations about social groups and individuals.
- Allow people to grow. (Lucky)
She focused on two of the ten concepts, “Allow people to grow. Resist the urge to cancel.” Cancel culture has become very prevalent in this generation. Canceling someone and their opinions is as if we are canceling their humanity furthermore limiting their potential to grow. So, in order to be more inclusive as a society, we must learn to allow people to grow in their thoughts and opinions.
Dr. Lucky continued, “Lean into discomfort. Resist defensiveness.” As activists that fight to create an inclusive community, we do not want to be wrong or called out for something. However, instead of defending ourselves, we should be honest and lean into discomfort because when we let go of our defensiveness we become more vulnerable and are able to grow.
At the end of the captivating presentation, Dr. Lucky called for a discussion. The audience was compelled to ask Dr. Lucky a variety of questions, sparking instant conversation.
Dr. Lucky posed a question regarding cancel culture, “Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts regarding “resisting the urge to cancel?” Many agreed with Dr. Lucky, including me. As I previously mentioned, the only thing canceling someone does is limiting their ability to grow and change. So I ask you this, is it not counterproductive to call for change when we are not allowing others to change?
The conversation segued to a new topic when a student asked, “What are your thoughts on canceling those who have died?” An individual can choose to hold a deceased person accountable while learning from their mistakes.
For example, Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner and influential leader of America, is built into American history. Considering that Jefferson cannot do anything today, we must recognize that although he has created progressive changes in America, he practiced many racist ideas during his time. So going forth, we must educate ourselves on all aspects of a person, living or dead, to continue to create change in our world by their actions.
This inclusive, honest, and captivating presentation received an incredible amount of feedback from both students and faculty of Garnet Valley High School further proving that there is a great need for more conversation within our school. I believe that conversation is one of the most important factors in creating change in society and that change must start here, in Garnet Valley.
Having social conversations within a safe and non-judgemental environment allows students to be vulnerable and express their thoughts and beliefs. In just an hour, with 40 people of all ages and beliefs, we were able to have a civil, influential, and educational conversation. Just imagine what could happen in a classroom of Garnet Valley students.
What is a better place to educate yourself than a school— a place that is known for providing a safe space while nurturing, and educating its students? Education should not just focus on precalculus and Napoleon Bonaparte, but should also influence conversations based on societal topics.
With Dr. Lucky’s 10-step rule and the idea of allowing people to grow and resisting the urge to cancel, I believe conversations within classrooms will be the change our society and Garnet Valley needs.