Dr. Martin Rudd
Assistant Chancellor for Access Campses
Some of the more straightforward identities that I identify with are…a parent, a husband, male, white, English-ethnicity, and England is my Country of origin, but I am now a U.S. Citizen. My first language is English, although it doesn’t sound exactly the same as the English for most people around here or in other parts where I have lived. I was raised a Christian, but I am far from a practicing Christian…I will add that my social identity is attached to multiple privileged groups: white and male…predominately and probably middle-class as well.
I think the most obvious one has been my English ethnicity and with England as my Country of origin. Most noticeably it is present in my accent. It is one of the first things people notice about me. So English is my first language…and despite living in the U.S. for more than half my life now, in fact, this past month [current: May 2021], I actually passed living in the U.S., more than half my life, my accent remains. To you and I it might not sound particularly altered. To my parents and brother I think it is altered because I have been influenced by living here for a long time. I would imagine for colleagues that have worked with me for a while…and I don’t know for how long a while is, that, just as my wife would probably say, “Oh, I don’t really notice his accent anymore.” It’s a part of who I am and less a part of how I am identified.
I can’t tell you the number of times I go grocery shopping or something like that…it is the first thing that I get asked at the cash register when I go to pay, or “where are you from?” or “That’s a cool accent.” I don’t usually get tired of at least having a conversation with somebody about it…it doesn’t really bother me. I know I sound different from Wisconsin locals and certainly, when I lived in Texas and Louisiana, I did as well. You know, we all come from somewhere and it just so happens that this piece of me still sounds the same. My children don’t sound like me in the same way because they have had the full growing-up experience here.
When we blame people, we tend to look back at the past, whereas, when we look for accountability, we look to construct the future.
Don’t criticize the micro-aggressor but focus on the microaggression. Then you’re not pointing a finger of blame at someone…it is easy to attribute a bad comment to a person and hold that against them rather than to address the nature of the microaggression. So it’s about understanding the act and less about criticizing the person.