Friday, June 25, 2010

Disturbing the Status Quo: Reflections from Recruiting for Diversity

I'm starting to think, (which isn't surprising seeing as I'm attending a National Writing Project event.)Somewhere in the middle of Margaret Wheatley's book turning to one another, she reminded me that the moment we start to think, we start disturbing the status quo. In fact, I think she says it's dangerous even. A good dangerous I would add. I want to write a little bit later about an earlier chapter in Wheatley's book, but for now, my journey2learn this weekend is focused on diversity. Accessing the diverse contributions in my community, making recruiting for the OWP relevant to the work needed to be done in our service area, and learning to connect with the rich and diverse world that the Ozarks is.

My real thought to my eyes. Look around and start noticing. Begin. Don't say it, but live it and commit to seeing all as blessings and not problems. Commit to seeing the diversity around me as the contribution. Commit to serving the underserved.

Already I'm beginning to open my eyes to how I DON'T live this in my life. And it's embarrassing.

At this point it's my first personal reaction to the literature I've been reading at the NWP's Recruiting for Diversity Institute. "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua gave me insight into the culture of language and how that culture reflects the identity of self. How you view yourself based on the dominant culture's behavior, words, actions, etc. This must be true in any situation. Actually I know it's true in any situation. I'm thinking of how my sense of self is connected to the dominant culture in the house I was raised. I felt worthy and whole if I was doing, saying, and thinking what my parents thought. It's got to be this way for our kids in school as well...tying identity to what the "popular" kids want and think. We all attach our identity to someone else, and that reminds me of a powerful phrase I pulled out from Margaret (Meg) Wheatley's chapter "Willing to be Disturbed" (pages 38-41 in the book turning to one another: simple conversations to restore hope to the future.

"We don't have to let go of what we believe, but we do need to be curious about what someone else believes. We do need to acknowledge that their way of interpreting the world might be essential to our survival."

What you say, do, and believe is essential to my survival as a growing, learning, thinking human being. My challenge to myself is to remember this luxury of learning from and listening to others.

Another challenge to myself: I want to try not being part of that dominant culture, although that is who I am, but instead, step outside of myself and understand and learn to value, no, I want to say "honor", those who feel domininated.

I feel like there are a lot of mixed ideas in this reflection, but I can't work through my own thinking without being confused and convoluted at first.