This is the seventh installment of a series making an appearance occasionally in this blog designed to give some specific guidance regarding how to work with an organization on intercultural responsiveness. The first six installments can be found here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 6, here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 5, here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 4, here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 3, here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 2, and here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 1
One of the more productive ways of learning about ourselves and others along this life long journey of intercultural responsiveness is by reading, watching, questioning, and reflecting. I stumble across things I never knew, things that challenge my way of thinking, things that shape and reshape my perception of self and others all the time.
A common question that circulates among educators goes something like this: “If I’m supposed to celebrate and be responsive to differences, then how am I supposed to do that?” While this type of question is extremely loaded, and certainly can’t be answered by handing out pamphlets that propose to somehow fully explain various groups of people, an initial way to address this is through information that approaches the question with the assumption that the one asking it is from the dominant culture – the culture that enjoys the power and privilege.
The primary reason this kind of information isn’t readily and handily available (beyond it being uncomfortable for so many to talk about), I believe is because there is a fear that we will make assumptions that we can categorize and address all people in a particular way. Truly understanding ourselves and others, including how to more appropriately be responsive to ourselves and others, arguably won’t actually fully happen within a human’s lifetime, let alone by reading a handful of articles. So, with that cautionary note, here are some articles I’ve stumbled across this calendar year. Note that there are far more groups not represented than represented here, note the themes that develop, and note the necessity to always expand rather than narrow our understanding.
We’re used to professional development that comes in the form of telling you precisely what you need to know. Here’s the information, and here’s the materials – now, go forth and conquer. This work requires a tremendous amount of critical thinking, so I spent a little bit of time with staff this year viewing some videos and having them reflect on some questions. I find these types of experiences to be powerful beyond measure, as long as we truly open ourselves. What follows are links to the few videos that were shared, along with some quotes and questions designed to get us to dig a little deeper. Enjoy.
“Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”
How does power impact stories?
How can you ensure more complete stories?
Who can you think of that seem to have single stories, and what are they?
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.”
Reflect on what you understand “Wasichu” to mean (interpreted by some to mean “takes the fat” or “greedy person”), and respond to this quote from Johansen and Maestas: “Wasichu does not describe a race; it describes a state of mind … (it is) a human condition based on inhumanity, racism, and exploitation) … it is a sickness, a seemingly incurable and contagious disease.”
Aaron Huey states, “The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, ‘My God, what are these people doing to themselves? They’re killing each other. They’re killing themselves.’” What do you think he means by this?
“Perhaps true beauty is something that draws our attention at second glance, once the judgment of a first glance has realized it’s mistake.”
What is normal?
How do we project an image of normality?
Why is that easier for some, and more difficult for others?