(Re)conceptualizing Love: Moving Towards a Critical Theory of Love in Education for Social Justice
Through reflection on critical incident involving a social justice educator, this reflexive essay examines the role of love and its implications on social justice education, pedagogy, and praxis. Within the U.S. context, there is a considerable misunderstanding of what love is. Normative discourse on love within in our society is almost exclusively relegated to romance and familial relations. However, through personal reflection and a review of interdisciplinary literature, I argue that normative discourses on love are not innocuous, but instead hegemonic and serve as an ideology to perpetuate individualism and white supremacy. Drawing upon critical theorists, including Black and Chicana feminist, I suggest that love must: 1) Be reconceptualized in order to meet the demands of justice, 2) Based in Black and Brown lived experiences, 3) Be embodied for social justice 4) Tend to the whole person, and 5) Be measured by how effective our pedagogy and practice stymy alienation and heal. Lastly, I offer my personal reflection guide that assisted my move toward a critical theory of love.