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Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 12:01:50 -0500
From: (Janine Clookey)
Subject: Re: August Question: Equity & Diversity
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Yes. So What. Why shouldn't people flinch, and think too?
>I wonder, did I just give the kind of approach that makes people flinch by
>asking all those questions?
>Subject: August Question: Equity & Diversity
>From: at internet
>Date: 8/12/96 10:27 AM
>I came to equity in education from initial work in the civil rights movement
>in the 1960's, followed by anti-war work in the late 60's and early 70's.
> Overlapping them all, eventually, was my interest in the women's movement
>and reclaiming what I personally had missed: my own gender's history and
>inclusion in all aspects of education. In retrospect, I see that when I
>became active in the women's movement, it was in me an impulse that grew from
>a middle-class, white, educated women's perspective, motivated at first by
>The Feminine Mystique, the book by Betty Friedan. People still think of "the
>women's movement" as a monolith, but it was clear early on that there were
>divergent opinions and needs, all of which have become more diverse even as
>we work for the success of all women. One of the first huge chasms in the
>women's movement was articulated by Friedan herself, who gave her infamous
>"lavender menace" speech that pointed out the divide between lesbians and
>heterosexual women. Soon after, I began noticing overt racism among the
>women I had admired and worked alongside as a feminist activist. I saw that
>women in wheelchairs had to scream for special attention to get access to
>meetings. Women from middle- and wealthier-class backgrounds found it
>difficult to work with working-class women, who often gave up in extreme
>frustration and left the movement. There were certainly those women whose
>anger at men drove male allies away (okay, so I had some of that anger myself
>for while!).
> Because I worked in other movements, I had empathy for those working for
>race, class, disability awareness, and a sense that if we all worked
>together, we could be the most powerful force on earth. That force has never
>materialized in the way I idealized it. I remember the hard work to try and
>learn about other cultures and how I needed to adapt to work with them. It
>is hard to overcome mistrust and lack of understanding. It is hard to find
>the energy to keep working at diversity every day. However, I believe in and
>embrace change; change is hope for a better world. If I do not have hope for
>improvement through change, what am I doing in the field of education?
>One of the most thrilling and interesting experiences I have had as a sex
>equity professional was at a three-day workshop facilitated by the National
>Women's History Project, a group that has long been a force for diversity in
>women's history. At that workshop, the organizers made a point of ensuring
>racial and ethnic diversity among participants and presenters. Because there
>was a balance of people from many racial groups, people did not feel a need
>to group together with those like themselves and isolate; everyone mingled
>and chatted constantly. Instead of feeling, for one of the few times in my
>life, as if I were in the minority and uncomfortable about it, I remember a
>feeling of exaltation, energy, and rapid exchange of ideas. The workshop
>organizers had brought together a tremendously dynamic and diverse group of
>which I was an equal member, not a dominant or nondominant member.
>I believe we can build diversity into our daily routines.
>1)We can beginby making sure we THINK about diversity in every group we
>assemble, policy we write, audience we want to reach, and resources we
>Have protocol in place at the beginning, a set of questions or benchmarks in
>place to use until we memorize them and can think of them automatically.
>2)Get to know people who are other genders, races, ethnicities, abilities,
>classes. This sounds like a simplistic solution, but when everyone around you
>is white and middle class, you aren't going to think of other groups
>automatically. Do we notice air around us every day? Do fish notice water?
>3)Read about diversity, especially in writings about gender, to expand your
>vision of just who is included in the word "gender." Right now, I'm
>reading Sari
>Biklen and Diane Pollard's Gender and Education, in which most of the
>include a focus on diversity in women. Newer feminist writings are making good
>efforts to be inclusive of all women.
>4)Make sure the resources (print, video, electronic) you use in your job
>people from all races, abilities, classes. Send back and refuse to buy those
>that are not inclusive; let publishers know why you are doing so. 5)If you are
>European-American, develop workshops on white privilege to talk to white people
>about their racism. Peggy McIntosh's monograph on that topic is a great place
>to start.
>6)My personal motto in doing training is "Never offend with style when you
>must offend with substance." In my work, I talk about heavy-duty subjects
>with people who will probably be resistent. I try not to compound that
>difficulty by being "in-your-face" and a screamer. However, I try to think
>of all the reasons they may turn me off and prepare for their resistance
>ahead of time by anticipating and co-opting their racism, sexism, etc.
>7)Be the person to talk about difficult subjects first. I remember when I
>started this work in the early 1980's, being terrified that someone would
>bring up the subject of homosexuality. Now I've found a way to bring in
>those subjects early on in my training. Sometimes just voicing them diffuses
>them and makes them acceptable.
>I realize I have personalized this discussion rather than making it more
>global and distant from my own experience. However, I think bringing gender
>and diversity together is a profoundly personal discussion, especially at the
>start. I look forward to reading your reactions and finding out how you can
>push me along in my thinking.
>Melissa Keyes
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>Subject: August Question: Equity & Diversity
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