Collaboration is NOT Cooperation,Scholars can be Oppresors

I will be totally honest, I have not met many people who value authentic collaboration.  When I worked as a teacher they pretended to collaborate, but it was really finding a way to cooperate to comply with new directives.  We do the same thing to students across the board from P-20.  But, if you do not create anything, have you ever really collaborated? If you do not create anything, are you even learning? Students are asked to make “products” and achieve a standard score on a standard test.  Is that collaboration?  Let’s be honest, when we work in groups most of the time one person takes over, and is more vested in pushing forward their ideas than processing, reflecting, shaping, and re-shaping individual elements until they coalesce into one, vision – one that is better than any individual’s agenda.

We are not only greedy as Americans in an economic sense, but also as intellectuals. No, don’t go off the deep end – I’m not saying everyone is greedy.  But what I am saying is while there are pockets of Americans that value equity and diversity – the general American school experiences that molds us from a very young age fashions us as hegemonic thinking individuals.  We lack the core of being an intellectual being – to see the world in its historical context and as influenced by multiple philosophical ways of thinking.  In doing so, not too many people recognize their daily habitus of minimizing and devaluing others to leave their own thoughts unchallenged. We don’t collaborate about our thinking processes, oh no, it’s just not nice to do that.

As a female Latina, this experience is often frustrating.  A good little Latina doesn’t get too “vocal” should always be “nice” and be “submissive” to men.  These aren’t comments by strangers, they come from educated scholarly men.  I’ve been told “good girl”, “you have no original thoughts”, and “play the game”. Their first defense will be, “I didn’t mean it that way” or “but he’s a good guy.”  I say – NO – you are not a good guy if you don’t listen when someone tells you to stop.  You are not a good guy when you have no insight into how your words belittle others.  You are not giving me good advice when you tell me to sacrifice my integrity and culture to enter a system to follow a dominant culture. You are NOT a scholar when you never critique your discourse.

When you do these things you ARE part of and perpetuating  the same deficit thinking school system, we’ve all come from.  You are not emancipated, you are still shackled. No matter what culture you are or how far you have risen educationally, you must become critically aware of your role as the oppressor.  I would far more prefer, for someone to say, “Hey I never thought of it that way, let me think about that.” or “I disagree with you, but I’m gonna think about what you said.”  It’s no surprise that only 3% of Latinas’ with a doctorate degree work in university faculty positions – their creativity, intellectual being, and critical discourse just can’t penetrate the the male framework of the good little Latina.  This Latina won’t be nice anymore – I say NO!







One thought on “Collaboration is NOT Cooperation,Scholars can be Oppresors

  1. Yes!!! Too many people have their head so far up their asses that they can’t admit when they’re wrong or when they’ve made a mistake. They’re in constant competition to be “smarter”, “stronger”, “more marketable”. We need to teach listening and reflection skills, and we need to allow students to challenge each other in class. Too many people get away with saying damaging things that perpetuate stereotypes and misogynistic messages.


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