An educators’ purpose is to teach a certain set of skills that will help
us navigate in the world beyond graduation. Whether those skills
are in mathematics, learning how to balance checkbooks or how to calculate your taxes or in literacy, so you can send out a proper email with minimal error, it all serves a purpose. Now, one might wonder, what purpose does a course in social injustice serve?
In today’s acrimonious political climate, disagreement come from far beyond the choice of being either Republican or Democrat. Majority of the time, disagreement comes from not understanding the root of the opposite partys’ indifference to
a particular issue. People’s indifferences stem from a history of recur- ring events that started long before today’s current issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement or the patriotism attached to United States flag and anthem even came into play.
Courses such as Race and Ethnicity and Race and Housing Inequalities, and many of the other sociology and social justice courses offered here at Manhattanville help to understand those issues, where they stem from, and most importantly, help you to understand why a peer of yours may not necessarily agree with your way of thinking when it comes to social issues.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Manhattanville’s Assistant Sociology Professor, Strmic-Paul, known to most, who have had the pleasure of taking one or three of her courses, as Professor SP:
I wanted to know, why would middle class white women teach courses on social justice? “I grew up in the downtown area of Chicago, my school was one block away from where I lived. My school was very mixed both racially and economically. So I guess at a very young age I had interactions with folks that were different from me,” said SP as she spoke on her upbringings and what would soon lead her to the eld of social justice.
However, as I was going down my list of questions I couldn’t help but realize the large diploma from the University of Virginia hanging on the wall. That’s when SP told me the story of how her family moved to rural Virginia at the age of 10. With a new environment, mixed up of both poor blacks and whites, SP was exposed to yet another group people.
However, you’d be surprised that it was not until the year of graduation, while majoring in economics, and one sociology course that would spark the interest in the eld that she currently is in.”
We continued to talk about other activities she’s involved in outside of Manhattanville, and to much my surprise, it didn’t stem far from what she does here.
“I work all the time, but not always on teaching. Right now I’m working on a book that is on The Major Sociological Theories Of Racism. It’s a survey book on 13 theories. I’m also in conversations with two editors on another survey on multiracialism and race and what multiracialism tells us about where we are with race these days.” she said.
That is just the tip of iceberg of the amount of projects professor SP is apart of. She is a pedagogue editor for one of the only journals on race in the United States. She is also a program chair member, along with many other things.
“Early on as a graduate student, I learned that networking was important. So I started trying to volunteer for different committees. One after another and people start noticing your work and now I’m apart of four organizations and a journal. So it’s like once you get on that hamster wheel, it’s really hard to get off,” said SP.
With so much on her plate I asked SP, what does she hope to achieve by doing all of this?
“It sounds lofty, but I really hope to make people more educated about inequalities so that they are better people, so that they go out into the real world making better decisions and being better employees at what- ever job they end up taking.”
“I truly believe teaching is activism.” she said.
Even in her music preferences, you can still see her eld of work creep- ing in. I asked if you were stuck on an island and could pick one artist and all their catalogues of music, which would you choose.
“I would be torn between Bob Dylan and Jay-Z, but I’d lean more towards Jay-Z.” she said.
The journey from kindergarten all the way through undergrad and even graduate school, should you choose to go that far, is a learning process. College is guide on how to live a successful life and be able to work with people outside of your normal social bubble. Courses like those taught by SP and other professors are imperative in achieving those goals especially in the ever-changing political and social climate that we live in.