Editor's Note: We're launching a blog series about topics central to YWCA Madison's work to eliminate racism and empower women. We're thrilled to have four talented writers who will be blogging about YWCA 101: introductions to topics on racial justice and women's empowerment. You'll also see stories about YWCA programs and participants. To start, each blogger will tell you a little bit about themselves and why they're volunteering. Here's the third in a series of four introductions. Share with your friends and invite them to follow along.
Blogger Profile: Joshua Moon Johnson
Social transformation comes through many efforts, and hopefully these efforts are collaborative. For the last decade of my personal and professional life, I have placed substantial focus on understanding and eliminating injustice. Growing up in small-town Mississippi, I noticed social differences and as I grew into adolescence, I noticed these differences created opportunities and obstacles. Like many, I first noticed the injustices I faced; as a low-income, multiracial, gender-non-conforming, queer boy growing up in the home of Pentecostal ministers, I never fit and was often fighting to be valued and understood. My feelings of exclusion from social groups and my fear of being found out, rejected, attacked, condemned, or forced to change my racial identity, sexual identity, or gender presentation fueled my quest. My lack of understanding of this world or myself pushed me into a career as a social justice educator.
I’m privileged now to work as the Director of the Multicultural Student Center/Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My daily work is advocating for racial justice at a large Predominantly White Institution that exists within a city that has its own set of racial baggage and injustices. I’m honored to work besides amazing student activists, and I learn from them much as I hope they learn from me. My student services work on college campuses has also led to me to write about identity and social justice on college campuses. My first book, Beyond Surviving: From Religious Oppression to Queer Activism, focused on intersections of religion and sexuality, and my second book, Authentic Leadership: An Engaged Discussion on LGBTQ Work as Culturally Relevant, focused on LGBTQ faculty and staff experiences. I’m currently writing a book about queer people of color in higher education, which should be released in 2016.
My social justice work has mostly revolved around college students, and I recognize that much privilege comes with being a student at a highly ranked research university. Therefore, I aim to contribute to my community and better understand the social justice issues affecting those outside of my university bubble. As I examined agencies that made a difference in the lives of those marginalized in our community, I found that the YWCA transforms the Madison community and has a mission I support. I’m passionate about ending discrimination and injustice, and not only for the identities that I posses, but for all oppressed groups. Not only do I want LGBTQ folks and people of color to be freed from injustice, but I also strive to be an ally for those whom I don’t share identities with. I may not fully understand the experiences of women, transgender people, or those who are differently-abled, but I commit to further understanding their experiences and aim to be an ally. My sphere of influence might not be large, but I know I can have an impact on the few around me. It’s my goal to end the injustices and discrimination I encounter in my daily life; this is my passion that I will pursue until I no longer can.
Dr. Joshua Moon Johnson is an author and educator focused on creating a society that values, supports, and loves people from all diverse identities. His work spans many identities and digs deep into issues facing LGBTQ+ communities, religious communities, and communities of color. Joshua currently serves as the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Multicultural Student Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Date Created: 10/28/2015
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"I Leave You Love" --Dr. Dorothy Height
It's Time for White People to Wake Up