Smells Like Teen Spirit

I was in line at T.J. Maxx in the gauntlet–you know the line that’s lined with socks and kitchen gadgets and stuff you don’t need but are likely to buy if you’re stuck looking at it long enough–and I saw this little gem:

ivy league

I saw this candle with no frame of reference for how “ivy league” would smell  but like cops and presidential politics, the old Ivory towers have faced their own waves of upheaval over the last two years.   So maybe it smells like old money and racists S.A.E. frat boys? Perhaps it smells like a mattress worn by the girl next to you to bring attention to the lack of administrative response to sexual assault.  Or is it the heady fragrance of pepper spray and banner paint.  It certainly doesn’t smell like sunshine and roses.

Higher ed is a microcosm of the wider society–and if done right, should be first to incubate, test and perfect new ideas and ways of being.  Campuses roiling with tension need real solutions that–when developed thoughtfully–can help the rest of society follow into post-apocalyptic paradise.   And they’re full of young people fired up and ready to go.


This grey candle of college sure didn’t smell like like America’s shiny future, but it’s not too late to cook up some new scents–humility and transcendent humanity? superstrings and singularity? Let’s just start with the simple scent of justice and love.   Anyone have a match?

Author: Susan X Jane

Susan X Jane is a diversity educator, speaker, and trainer and coach. A former professor and media literacy activist, she now consults with organizations looking to make sense of our current cultural shift. She thinks a lot about media and race…a lot...and writes and speaks about media…and race... and encourages everyone she meets to think about the way our identity shapes our experiences, ideas, and beliefs about the world. If you're reading this, she wants you to think about it too. Want to talk about it? Let's go.

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