Centering Love as the Foundation of a Racially Just and Decolonizing Student Affairs
Keywords:decolonization, love, student affairs, settler colonialism, racial justice, dehumanization
In writings on humanizing pedagogy, the concept of love is often presented as the core principle grounding all action. However, love, as it is currently conceptualized, leaves much room for interpretation (hooks, 2000; Levinas, 1998; Matias & Allen, 2013). Therefore, it is critical as educators and Student Affairs professionals we challenge the idea of how we commonly think about love as an abstract notion (“fight hate with love”) and, rather, reimagine what love means within a movement that challenges oppressive structures within Student Affairs. By not recognizing or taking actions to correct higher education’s past acts of indifference (noting the gross injustices against Indigenous populations and the exploited labor and enslavement of Africans rooted within the history of college campuses), we are perpetuating the protection of a historical lie and continuing the legacy of settler colonialism and dehumanization within the profession. In this manuscript, we provide an overview of settler colonialism and its impact in Student Affairs, review how love is academically and culturally defined across fields, and present an alternative framework for building love as an actionable "skill set" that allows educators to move the field toward racial justice and humanization.
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