Re: Cohousing's Diversity Problem - cultural brokerage
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2017 11:49:33 -0700 (PDT)
> if you're able to get shed your cultural baggage and step out of your comfort 
> zone, or work hand in glove with a cultural broker, such as myself or 
> crystal, who, for various reasons (at least one obvious), are more accepted 
> into racially diverse communities.

I think this characterization of others in this conversation isn’t helpful and 
presumes things about people you don’t know. And other assumptions about 
yourself and Crystal. 

Being of an identifiable minority ethnic group, doesn’t ensure that a person is 
accepting of all others.

My cohousing neighbor is of Jamaican heritage. Born in England. Raised in 
Canada. Graduate work in DC. A citizen of the US.

She has lived in and visited many, many other countries, most recently 2 years 
in Qatar and a year in China. She has repeatedly said that America is the most 
ethnically diverse and accepting country of all she has visited. Countries in 
Europe, Asia, the Middle East have precise skin color definitions and 
preferences. Entire ethnic groups are identified by skin color and shunned. 
Ethic cleansing happen in many ways, not just killing or expulsion.

If you—the editorial “you"—want more diversity in your communities, what do you 
expect it to produce? What is your target in terms of numbers? How much 
diversity do you have now? How do you measure it?

Definitions (I live on Google)

> cultural diversity: the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups 
> within a society.
>       "cultural diversity has increased, exposing kids to new tastes and 
> experiences”

> ethnic diversity: pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a 
> group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, 
> language, or the like. 2. referring to the origin, classification, 
> characteristics, etc., of such groups.

A nice definition one page discussion of "diversity and why?” on the 
Queensborough Community College, which must be the most diverse student body 
anywhere. It defines diversity in terms of 

> the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic 
> status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or 
> other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, 
> positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and 
> moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich 
> dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

I wonder if our belief that our communities are not diverse stems from our not 
recognizing the diversity we already have?

If we don’t see it, is it unintentionally and unconsciously suppressed?

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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