“…I see myself as an advocate for students even if I can’t always fix something…”

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November 17th, 2017

– Dr. Pamela Stewart, Senior Lecturer, History

She/Hers, Lesbian

“…I try and help students understand that things aren’t linear in the way we think and talk about them. So the fact that you have civil rights or title IX or DACA, and you have someone that puts that in place, that does not mean that those things naturally have a life of their own. As Martin Luther King said “time is neutral”. What actually changes things and continues to make sure they stay changed, or even in the process of changing things we sometimes realize ‘oh wait we thought this would take care of this. But now that we’re here we realize we’re also going to have to do A, B, and C. So sometimes actually creating change is what allows you to see that there’s a lot more work to do than you thought. The idea that you have to still stay not only vigilant, but realize that we are not there yet and that the push back can be so much stronger than you could have imagined is something that history allows us to see…

“…Sometimes I’ve had students do an identity thing where, so “what noun would you use?” In the English language, the noun is what matters and the adjectives describe the noun- but if you had to write down all of the words that you thought described you, represented you, or identified you in some way, and those could change, and if we wrote them all down, which would you pick to be the​ thing and which would you choose to be attendant to that? For a lot of us that would change over the course of college or a lifetime. But I think it’s useful to realize that’s also how that functions. I think for me, I frequently come back to words like ‘Teacher’, ‘Feminist’, and ‘Historian’….I realize I claim the label of lesbian even though, again that wouldn’t be my ultimate goal in terms of how these work. And I you know a lot of people would look at me and go ‘of course.’ But again I think even that is problematic because I know a lot of women in West Texas and elsewhere who look like, fill in the blank, and that’s not at all how they would view themselves. I think we’re still very locked in to that in how we identify. Yet, I continually come back to what are the things that keep my mind going and matter to me…”

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