"Many, perhaps most white [people] in the US think racism doesn't affect them since they are not people of color, they do not see "whiteness" as a racial identity. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion or sexual orientation... One factor seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions. They take both active forms which we can see and embedded forms which as a member of the dominant group one is taught not to see." -Peggy McIntosh
We are committed to teaching that diversity, inclusion, equal access to resources, and environmental justice are the foundations of true sustainability. We value and prioritize the awareness of and work towards understanding privilege, oppression and the subsequent implications for life and learning. Through our permaculture framework we:
how one's social group membership (race, class, gender, etc..) affects one's experience in the world.
racism and other forms of oppression embedded in education and society as a whole.
how to talk to children about racism and other forms of injustice.
honestly at power and privilege in a spirit of compassion.
tools on how to be a more effective ally to yourself and others.
to recognize and address your own internalized oppression.
towards action and the creation of a more just future for all people.
Exploring topics of race, class, culture, gender, age (and many others) is a crucial step towards creating an un-biased curriculum and social experience for students. People of privilege are often not aware of the biases that are constantly present in our culture (and subsequently education) that reinforce a dominant paradigm as "normal", "good" and "valuable". The inverse messages imposed upon marginalized populations have become tightly woven into the fabric of society in complicated ways that affect access to resources. Marginalization isn't related to issues of 'majority' vs. 'minority' populations, but is actually about who has more power within the constructs of the existing social system. Society enforces policies and norms that directly benefit some people more than others. This is a deeply problematic issue that, although uncomfortable, needs to be addressed as the root cause of the world's social and environmental problems. Only with a solution on that level can healthy food and environmentally friendly lifestyle choices become the relevant focus of sustainability education.
We are committed to the work of exploring topics of diversity ~ identifying our relationship with privilege and oppression and taking effective action toward true justice for all people. Many thanks to the Mandala Center for Change for inspiring this important work through the deeply effective medium of Theater of the Oppressed.
"The theatrical language is the most essential human language. Everything that actors do is done throughout life, always and everywhere. Actors talk, move, dress to suit the setting, express ideas, and reveal passions just as we all do in our daily lives. The only difference is that actors are conscious that they are using the language of theatre, and are thus better able to turn it to their advantage, whereas the woman and man in the street do not know that they are making theatre." (A. Boal, Games for Actors and Non-Actors).
To read an interview with Marc Weinblatt and Cheryl Harrison (from the Mandala Center for Change) putting diversity work into context, please click here.