January 7

White Fragility, by Robin Diangelo

At a recent workshop hosted by Volunteer Community Services and the Center for Safety and Change, an important new book was highlighted:

White Fragility, Why it is so hard for White People to talk about Racism, by Robin Diangelo.

Sociologist and antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo illuminates emotionally charged and defensive behavior that occurs when a white person’s perceived anti-racism is challenged.

“Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.”   ~Beacon Press

Many important tools are provided to self reflect on our inevitable racism caused by being socialized in a society where there is a historical foundation of institutional racism.  Diangelo stresses the distinction between acts of discrimination and prejudice (overt intolerant events) and the societal structure of racism.

In this process, Diangelo implores the reader, particularly those of us that consider ourselves progressive, liberal and anti-racist, to recognize our continued role in racism, and to recognize that interrupting racism is life long work…that we are never “done.”

 

Important concepts that strongly impacted my thinking:

-Our actions: Intent vs Impact

– The Good/Bad Binary  (because racism is amoral, saying a white person is racist is a moral affront.)

-Working to consider ourselves in racial terms…the impact of being white

 

Diangelo encourages the reader to shift their thinking from if you are a racist, to how we engage in racism.

 

This short book (150 pages) is an important read!

 

October 15

Human Library – breaking stereotypes through honest conversation

The human library concept originated in 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of a youth organization’s work to combat violence.

More recently, the San Diego Times reported on this idea being put to use in the San Diego Library.

Here’s how the human library worked: people signed up for 20-minute slots of time during which they could “check out” and have a casual conversation with a “human book,” a person with a particular life experience that is generally stereotyped. In addition to Spacek, the other human books on Saturday were “refugee,” “punk entrepreneur,” “rapper,” “disabled,” “journalist,” “dwarfism,” “blind,” “transgender,” “veteran,” “Muslim,” “graffiti artist” and “psychic.”

 

October 16

Artist, JR, creates a picnic across the Mexican Border Wall

JR has taken on social causes throughout his career.  With a goal of bringing people together and understanding that the human race is one family, JR has created works of art around the world.

This week, his latest work, a giant picnic,has sparked much interest and discussion.For more on the project,

click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about other inspirational projects by JR, check out his TedTalk.

March 22

Sesame Street supports diversity and inclusion with the introduction of Julia, a muppet with Autism

Last week, 60 minutes reported on Sesame Streets newest muppet, Julia.

Excerpts:

“Sesame Street” has always based its characters and content on extensive research.  They regularly bring in educators and child psychologists. In the case of Julia, they also worked with autism organizations to decide which characteristics she should have and how best to normalize autism for all children.

It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There is an expression that goes, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” says writer Christine Ferraro.

And of course every Muppet needs a puppeteer.  But not every puppeteer has the connection Stacey Gordon does to the role. Gordon is the mother of a son with autism.

Stacey Gordon: Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.