My Frustration and Confusion

I’ve been battling some identity issues lately. Now it’s not that uncommon for us to go through these battles through our life journeys, but lately it’s been exacerbated by colleagues and my field.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve been dismissed as a person of color (POC) 2 times verbally and 1 time over social media by colleagues in the field.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve been informed 2 times that Asians should not be considered POCs by colleagues.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve been accused 3 times that as a POC, I am not supporting my brothers and sisters of color in their efforts in Baltimore as much as I should by colleagues in the field.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve gotten 2 inconsistent definitions of who are POCs from colleagues.

Now, I have no problem with being challenged about beliefs, who I am, and why and when I advocate because it helps me to deeper understand myself. But its confusing and hurtful when the acceptance of my identities change throughout a conversation. When at one point during a conversation, my views are dismissed for not being a POC, but then later in the same conversation with the same person, I’m called out for not firmly owning my POC identity to advocate for justice.

I feel that I’m taken seriously as a Student Affairs Professional. I feel that I’m taken seriously as an advocate for students. I feel that I’m taken seriously as a person of color when its CONVENIENT. I feel my experiences as a gay , Christian/Catholic, Asian, male are not heard unless it’s able to add to a “cause”. I feel that I am only accepted in the field on an individual identity basis rather than me as a whole person of many identities.

Now, it’s only a few people and I don’t mean to put the whole field on blaze, but I always expected better from some of my colleagues, who are educated, enlightened and compassionate.

Being an adopted South Korean to a conservative while family, I’ve struggled with my identities for years. I always found Student Affairs people great in helping me along my journey and I have been honored to call them friends, colleagues and mentors. But lately, there are lines being drawn in the sand and we are picking and choosing. It’s becoming an either or, one side or the other, black or white and only when it’s convenient depending on your identity and the issue at hand. We are no longer a person we are an identity in each conversation any more.

Something is occurring in our field. Whether its that we are finally addressing issues or that we are acknowledging that Student Affairs Professionals are still only human, I’m not sure. But like everyone, my individual identities are not solely who I am and they should not be used to accept or reject me on an “as needed basis” in conversations or experiences.

“As needed basis” is for a job description, not for acceptance as a person with thoughts and opinions.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer
Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I appreciate you reading through my current frustration. I’ve learned I process better when I blog. 🙂

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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