Diversity [was conflict sources -ism education]
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 09:07:02 -0600 (MDT)
On 5/22/2003 9:08 AM, "Christy Collins" <ccollins [at] loudjoy.com> wrote:

>  We are, 
> at this point, saying that we'd like to have all kinds of diversity in
> our community, and I am thinking that we need to be ACTIVE in educating
> ourselves and exercising anti-racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

I changed the subject line because "diversity" is an ongoing subject on the
list and that is the keyword people look for (rather than -isms).

We haven't discussed these issues so this is certainly my take on things. As
someone who lived through the formulation of the -isms in the 1960s and 70s,
I'm so bored with these I can't tell you. If someone suggested a workshop on
them I certainly would not attend. In addition, when a member here raises
one of the 'standard' -ism complaints, usually racism, it sounds very hollow
and untrue. And particularly, it is so non-specific that it is unhelpful in
addressing the problem at hand.

In an actual living situation we have a wonderful opportunity to deal with
each person as an individual and to encourage each person to see themselves
as an individual, not as a stereotype. All of the -isms are "true" in the
sense that there are ageists and racists and certainly homophobes, but in
one to one relationships these are not helpful concepts. They are barriers
that block communication and allow each of us to hide behind them instead of
relating to people directly without filters.

The bigger issue is cultural expectations. It does help to talk about the
culture we grew up in and the culture we want to live in. I find these are
much larger than age, race identification, sexual orientation, etc.
"Tablecloths, candles, and music at meals" is a cultural issue that causes
much more distress here than any identified -ism.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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