Some thoughts from Sean

Some thoughts after doing the readings:

The Bisam piece reminded me of my first trip to grad school, when I was getting my degree in Teaching English a Second Language. At the time, this degree was awarded from the Division of English as an International Language, and it attracted a lot of Christian missionaries. 

I am gay. 

This was not always the best environment. The professors were fine, as were many of my fellow grad students, but the ones that weren’t REALLY weren’t. 

I got the conversations that pretty much every queer person in the 90’s (and earlier) got – you know– “When did you decide to be gay?” “Have you tried prayer?” “I’m fine with gay people, as long as you aren’t TOO gay.” That sort of thing. 

Here’s the issue: I could have filed complaints. I’m pretty sure that the university had an anti-LGBT policy, but the sheer volume of drama that would have caused would not have been worth it. 

So, I minimized my contact with those particular grad students and became monumentally unpleasant when they said something out of line. The peak moment of this was when I was teaching English to incoming international MBA students and, at a weekly meeting with all the grad students teaching there, one of the Christians went off on a tangent, discussing his own personal theories of why people are queer. 

Nowadays, I would have said, “Sir, this is a Wendy’s.” 

However, back then… I said something like “What the (expletive) does that (expletive) have to with any-(expletive)-thing?” 

Afterwards, our supervisor pulled me aside, and said that while she understood my anger, I was out of  line. She went silent when I asked why she didn’t shut the guy down. 

I never got a response. 

In other words, you can’t really rely on power structures to help you, and, honestly, fighting is exhausting, so people normally end up picking their fights. 


The Praxis Program Charters

I thought these were by and large interesting and there is a lot here to compliment. The idea of setting up an environment that is open and that accepts failure is important and useful. Keeping everyone informed of each other’s progress (or lack thereof) is also an excellent idea. 

A lot of this boils down to having lines of communication, which is the idea and it’s great when it can be pulled off. 

However, the level of socializing within the cohorts got to me after a while. I guess this is because I don’t like most of the people I work with. This isn’t to say I hate them… I’m just not friends with most of them. Having a weekly lunch or drinks with them sounds painful, and I say this as an extrovert. 

I spend my workday with them, but once I’m done, I want to be literally anywhere else. I like to keep my social life and my work life separate.   

But, like I said, overall, I genuinely support most of what was said in these. 

3 thoughts on “Some thoughts from Sean

  1. diana ballesteros (she/they)

    Holding onto this thought, Sean: “fighting is exhausting, so people normally end up picking their fights.”

    I remember a few years back, just before the pandemic, I attended the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute led by adrienne maree brown and other emergent strategists in NYC. The experience mainly catered to members of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. It was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. There was love, patience, genuine interest and engagement in each other and “the work.” on the last day, we hosted a kind of fishbowl, where we could ask each other any thing about emergent strategy. at the time, i was an msw student, and i had had an awful experience with my field supervisor. basically, a number of students had come to me with concerns about adults at the institution being racist towards them. when i brought the concerns to my supervisor, she asked me if i was accusing her of being racist. that was the beginning of the breakdown of that experience. anyway, i shared this account at ESII, and asked adrienne something along the lines of…what do we do when we work in spaces that don’t honor our value systems. adrienne’s advice? leave.

    have you experienced spaces where you felt affirmed? within the context of CUNY or beyond?

    1. Sean Patrick Palmer Post author

      First off, I am so sorry that happened to you, Diana. That is terrible.

      At CUNY, have I felt affirmation? That’s kind of complicated.

      For the work I do, sure. People have told me that I do interesting work.

      On a personal level, maybe it’s because I was gay in the 80s and 90s, but I don’t look for that at work. Also, I am a large white guy. Yes, I am gay, and I get the “You don’t look gay” ALL THE TIME. Still, at the end of the day, I am a white guy. I have a tremendous amount of privilege. I recognize that I don’t get nearly the amount of grief that women and people of color do.

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