Vanessa Rosa Varnell-Hernández, Ph.D.

Vanessa Rosa Varnell-Hernández, Ph.D.



If you’re reviewing an article about equity and type the word “tone,” PLEASE 🛑 and *consider* 1) what you felt, 2) why you felt it, and 3) why you felt the need to comment on it in your review.

🔘 If my methods aren’t clear or hold limitations not clearly stated, please correct me. 🔘 If I am perpetuating exclusionary research practices, please tell me. But!

If you took offense because I acknowledged a system of oppression that you, me, and others in our field are collectively responsible for perpetuating, PLEASE 🛑 and take a moment to reflect.

If my interpretations of data surrounding systemic oppression cause you to reflect on your role in perpetuating said oppression, *then my work is WORKING.*

Lean into your feelings; they are valid. I too feel shame when I become aware of the things I do that prevent progress toward equity. I’m not asking you not to feel, I’m asking you to consider what you *do* with those feelings.

In policing my tone, you are choosing to silence *me* for the shame *you* feel about *my* recognition of *our* collective participation in systems of oppression.

“This is a systemic problem in our field,” is not a condemnation of you *the person* but of you and me and *all of us* who are electing to be passive conduits of an unjust system.

Silencing me, at best, minimizes and, at worst, amplifies the problem as you are enforcing your norms of what is “nice” on me.

What’s more is that you are forcing me to decide if today will be yet another day I will be forced by the systems of academia to silence myself so that I *might* be heard by you and others who benefit from my silence.

It also allows others to perpetuate a collective adherence to avoiding direct conversations about how we are ACTIVELY hurting others for fear we may POTENTIALLY hurt one another’s feelings.

I know what I said. I chose my tone with you and many other people in mind. As much I would love to gently and nicely invite you into this conversation, this is not a nice topic and your shame suggests you may not yet be ready to contribute to the solution beyond reflecting.

Recognize that you have power as a reviewer to halt advances in equity simply because you didn’t like how the work made you feel about what you have chosen to do. Police your actions, not my tone.

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