Whiteness and culture

Why do people say “white people have no culture”? What is that intended to accomplish.  A friend, who posed this question, suggested that it means White people have no culture that needs protecting.

I don’t agree. Continue reading


Sex and Disability

Note: this is a growing field, with more resources being created all the time.  This list is neither comprehensive, nor particularly in depth in various directions.  I am simply attempting to provide a good starting point on various topics. As always suggestions are welcome. Continue reading

Participation Pyramid

Want to get involved in a conversation about social justice?

  1. Start by Listening.  Hear the voices of people who are affected.
  2. Ask questions, read, and listen.  Make sure you ask questions in appropriate places.
  3. Continue listening and learning, and Speak Up!
  4. Learning is an ongoing process!  Don’t forget to give credit to the people you learn from.

Graphic titled The Participation Pyramid, lists three steps with Listen at the top.  Ask, read and listen, at the middle, and Ask, read, learn, and speak up! at the bottom.
Under the pyramid smaller text says, To support a cause, listen to people in the cause, ask questions in appropriate places, give credit to those who came before you, and speak up!

The Participation Pyramid

Sharing without Oversharing?

How do we balance sharing with oversharing?  Being constantly exposed to the prejudices we face as marginalized people can be exhausting.  Providing visibility and humanizing victims is self-evidently significant, but the way we share this information matters.

Because there is so much denial of systemic abuse, sharing videos as well as the commentary helps show first-hand the degree of brutality going on, but sharing videos, such as those of police brutality, with your liberal communities is not inherently helpful. Continue reading

Problematic Social Justice Norms (probably pt 1)

I’ve been thinking a great deal recently about the dynamics of social justice spaces. Like any culture, certain patterns of communication form within these spaces, and certain norms and taboos as well.

In describing this and anything related to social justice, I feel the need to define everything I say and use many disclaimers. This too, can impede communication. It can benefit it by making sure I am mindful to explain the words I use and by keeping me accountable to those who have gone before me. This is good, but the fact that I am afraid to challenge these norms, even though I want very much to advance marginalized people reduce stigma and discrimination and break down systemic problems, is proof of their power to exclude and silence. I know I am not flawless and might be wrong here. But I’m not afraid of being wrong, as I am of how people will respond. Will they help me learn? Or will they accuse me of betrayal, hurt me and cast me out? This is the choice I do not want to impose on anyone else.

I’m concerned about how this affects the ability of different people to participate in dialogues. I see a tremendous lack of accessibility when it comes to creating spaces for marginalized people in groups dedicated to a huge population, and for people who don’t enter into these spaces already knowing the norms and jargon.

This is a barrier to communication. Continue reading

Teaching Empathy and the Danger of Simulations

content: the limitations of simulating a marginalized experience, how this negatively affects marginalized people, and some suggestions about how to teach and learn without perpetuating these problems.

I know some people are pretty excited about various ways to simulate disabilities (and sometimes other marginalized experiences). I’m not.

Any simulation of any disability is incredibly limited and problematic because it is experienced by someone who does not have that condition.

I edited a workshop for a group that I worked for to replace a simulation for these reasons. The original workshop asked participants to put on oven mitts and attempt to tie their shoes. This simulation is incredibly problematic for reasons that can be generalized to others. Continue reading