My Reflection (Seltzer)

This blogpost will essential serve as my reflection on today’s conversation in class, one I found to be stimulating, civil, and educational. I want to emphasize the importance of the last two because of their surprisingly complex relationship.


By this I mean that I spent the class discussing the importance of civility and temperance when engaging in these provocative discussions. Coming from the quintessential perspective of privilege, and on based on previous experiences, the conversations where the voices stay the calmest are the most productive ones. When we do not try to correct fellow students, but amiably persuade, will our success rate be the highest.


Yet after speaking with Professor Alamo and Professor Dunbar once the class was finished, I realized that I was making a unilateral request. I initially believed that a productive conversation was implicitly a mutual agreement between two parties to engage devoid of emotion. It is in fact quite different, however, because there is almost always one party that inherently has an emotional aspect to their argument. Whether it be based on personal experiences, historical experiences, or anything in between, the emotional aspect of that party’s assertions are inextricable and in fact crucial. Therefore, when I request that conversations be emotionless, I am in fact asking the other party to adopt to my playing field, to adjust to my comfort.


Whereas a more mutual conversation would be one where I acknowledge the emotional aspect and in fact cede some ground to it. There should be a middle ground between the extremes, one that allows for both parties to present their argument with the inane qualities they respectively posssess. Perhaps I have underestimated the usefulness of emotion in conversations such as the ones we’ve had today. Perhaps I have unknowingly been requiring others to accommodate me when I have not been accommodating to them. It is challenging idea to reflect upon, though one I have thought about for a good part of the day.


Anyway, I just want to say that I appreciated everyone’s input and civility during the conversation. I felt the class did a great job of digging deeper while still remaining respectful, an environment I unfortunately haven’t encountered too many times my past four years. I look forward to more discussions like the one we had today: stimulating, civil, and educational.

One thought on “My Reflection (Seltzer)

  1. almcghee

    I’m glad that you could learn from our class discussion. Your use of the word “civil” reminded me of something a a participant in a recent dialogue I facilitated on Tone-Policing and Call Out culture. She said “Civility, is a western construct, it means nothing to me..” and she went on to cite the fact that as a woman with African heritage the word holds little water when it is used to describe or to outline discourse that she engages in. To use degrees of “civility” as a gauge for productive conversation can actually still be doing the work to pull the conversation on your playing field whether you know it or not. What does it mean when there is no longer civility? Does it invalidate the person’s point of view if they become angry?

    Still, I do agree with you that there is a middle ground in discussion. My Education professor calls it being on your learning edge which is the midpoint point between being too comfortable in a conversation so you’re not paying attention and being so uncomfortable you can’t engage.

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