Defined by Intention, Not by Race

If there were ever a point that I felt I needed to defend my motives for wanting to go on this Alternative Spring Break trip, it would probably be now. After going through our assigned readings for this week, I cannot help but feel like there are a lot of people out there who see my service trip as something that I am doing to make myself feel better, or that I have really selfish motivations for my service. Quick disclaimer: I am a very lucky that my life is the way that it is. Yet, that does not mean that I cannot help serve others in the same way that everyone else does. Who is to judge my intentions in this service-learning experience? I do not think it is reasonable that people who want to help should be made to feel guilty for wanting to do so. I do not think that it is fair to say that one person has better racial qualifications than someone else that make them better suited to perform service.

I am not by any means denying white privilege. It is something that I am ashamed to acknowledge exists in the world and I feel embarrassed to be a part of it. With that said, I do think that if I have the opportunity to serve others I would be wrong not to take it, even if that opportunity came to because I am white. What if, perhaps, I was not doing a service-learning trip on my spring break? Then wouldn’t I also be criticized for being selfish? I do not expect to change the way that the global dynamic of race is perpetuated; my main goal in this service-learning experience is to aid a marginalized community with what they need and want.

Each service-learning trip is different, and every person is different too. How each person acts and works on their specific trip is also different. I should not be judged in how I will perform my service based on my race. Neither should those who I am helping automatically be judged because of theirs. This idea that someone cannot do something adequately or wholeheartedly because of how they are born repeats the cycle of racial discrimination and it is not something that should be placed on something as admirable as working for others.



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