Re: New diversity statement
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:06:28 -0700 (PDT)
Personally I think this is a stereotype. All of the people of color that *I* 
know are very similar to me—and thus would be a good fit for cohousing—except 
that they don’t need another place to be the model minority.

And *I’m* as white as can be and involved in church and cultural organizations 
and work, and want to spend time with my family. But we don’t explain *me* away 
with those reasons.

And when I was hanging out in queer groups, we had even *more* of an already 
existing community.

I honestly think that we cohousers like “diversity” because we don’t want to be 
in a minority position ourselves—because of our politics, or our environmental 
focus, or an alternative familial style, or alternative schooling, or a 
particular nature/spirituality focus, etc. Others join because we are 
introverts and need help making friends (that sure affected *me*!!)

We mostly don’t form cohousing because we want to live in racially diverse 
neighborhoods, and so we don’t actually *mean* racial diversity when we say 
diversity. (I’m not saying we are opposed or unwelcoming, I’m saying its not a 

And some of us are surprised that that doesn’t attract (many) people who are 
racially diverse, so sometimes we create a story that explains why *they* don’t 
want *us*. 

The reality is that cohousing gets most people into our communities by personal 
interactions and most white people don’t know very many people who are not 
white, and so we end up with mostly white communities. 
It would take making sure you have people of color in the founding group, and 
making sure you go out and join organizations that have people of color in 
them, and building in a location where people of color won’t be making their 
children a token minority. 

All that is extremely hard to do, and even harder when a big part of our 
forming groups are people who were looking for something that would be safer 
for themselves. 

To my read, this is the way systemic racism plays out in the United States. 

While cohousers want to be accepted in the ways they are counter cultural, 
cohousing isn’t actually *very* countercultural (it starts with buying a 
house!!) and its hard enough to be counter cultural even a little bit, and very 
hard to actually decide to overcome systemic racism.

I hope that we cohousers can learn to see that this is a way that systemic 
racism is hurting all of us, regardless of our color. We lose out on the full 
experience of diversity because systemic racism cannot be beaten by chance, by 
hope, by prayer or good thoughts or positive thinking. 

We would have to decide to take personal risks to reach out in different ways, 
but the benefit would be changing a bit of the world. 

(The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill

> On Sep 26, 2016, at 5:24 PM, Gerald Manata via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] 
>> wrote:
> Bingo! This is the first statement in this long drawn out conversation that 
> actually hit the nail on the head.
> --------------------------------------------
> On Sun, 9/25/16, Katie Henry <katie-henry [at]> wrote:
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ New diversity statement
> To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
> Date: Sunday, September 25, 2016, 5:30 PM
> Based on my experience managing outreach for a forming
> community in the DC area, I've come to the conclusion that
> cohousers may want diversity, but "minorities" (for lack of
> a better umbrella term) don't necessarily want more
> community. For starters, they're more likely to either stay
> close to home and family or bring family with them if they
> move. Either way, they'll also be deeply involved in
> cultural and/or religious organizations. 
> For example, your typical home-buying African American
> female in the DC area will have a demanding job, will have
> extended family in the area (or maybe in southern VA or NC,
> where she will visit often), will be very active in a
> church, and will also be involved with her college sorority.
> Is she really going to be looking for another set of
> commitments and activities when she comes home from a long
> day at work? Especially involving a bunch of earnest
> liberals trying to excise their white guilt?
> White people are the ones who leave their families and move
> cross-country all by themselves and find themselves rootless
> and lonely and seeking community. 
> Of course there will be exceptions to everything I've said,
> and maybe I'm completely wrong, but I spent way too much
> time trying to explain cohousing to people who were clearly
> thinking "Why on earth would I want to get involved in
> something like that?" Then I started marketing to the LGBTQ
> community and got a much better reception.
> Katie Henry
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