Transforming Anger into Building Solidarity By Beth Berila, Ph.D.

Anger. It is regularly present in social justice classrooms. It has a place in discussions about oppression. As the saying goes, "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention."

People handle their anger in different ways. As a white, middle class woman who grew up in suburban Ohio, I was taught not to show anger. Wasn't allowed to feel it. SO even to this day, I get uncomfortable around outward displays of anger.  But I have come to see that as my cultural socialization that was deeply gendered, raced, and classed. I have learned that many of my colleagues and friends were socialized differently. My education and work in social justice means that anger is a regular companion for me now.  And I realize that I always had it, but now, instead of it turning inward and imploding, it can be turned outward and into a catalyst for social change.

Anger is a healthy reaction to injustice, and many of our students express it. As a teacher, I now name it when it occurs in my classroom and we often have discussions about why it emerges and what to do with it. Because anger imploded will often eat us away. Anger not acknowledged and understood can further alienate us from one another.  But anger used as a catalyst for social transformation can go a long way.  

Here are two pieces that can be used to shape a discussion on anger, self-reflection, and allyship. Students can journal on them or small group discussions can focus on a question promote based on these articles.

Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger.

Parker Palmer,  Alchemy of Anger (which includes Marge Piercy's poem The Low Road).