Near the Old Man of Storr, Scotland I took this in 2004

Friday, March 2, 2012

Paradigms of Hope

Ponder this: Mormons, the filthy cult that they are , have their own state in the United States, but Jewish People still have to defend the legitimacy of Israel belonging to Jewish people as their own nation-state. What the fuck is that!?

I was watching Jane Elliot's  social experimentation films online last night; her blue-eyed/brown-eyed action. Though I do agree with many of her points, one of her main points, seems to be to stay victimized. I found this surprising, especially because the impetus for her whole work was based on Dr. King, his teachings and his subsequent assassination. To quote the Reverend, 
 "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."

Blue-eyed people, in Jane Elliot's experiments become "minorities" and are treated as such, by her, and by the other participants, the brown eyed people. 

Her lesson is to show people ,the blue-eyed participants, who=  WASP, what being discriminated against for your skin colour feels like.

Wouldn't the next step in   evolution of consciousness be to give the brown-eyed people attending her workshops tools to overcome oppression; ways to help people feel ok about speaking up, or out, or just speaking at all?

Blue eyed people too should also be given tools to learn un-racist behavior, as well as  the morale breaking 'exercises' she uses.

Giving both groups tools  to deal with  and address oppression directly in such ways such as doing role-play scenarios based on the brown-eyed participants' daily experiences with oppression would help brown- eyed people feel empowered, instead of just saying, as one Black man said, in a workshop Elliot held in England, that he never goes to pick up his daughter because she is the only Black person at her school, and his subtext was he didn't want to cause problems, for his daughter, or for himself as a Black man living in a white-dominated society. Elliot said nothing,  she only listened to the man's story. 

Elliot was; therefore, also being complicit in his silence by not giving him courage to stand up and be counted, as it were. She allows people to retreat into the shadows because that's where they are comfortable. 

By not providing participants who are minorities, a word I hate,  with ways to feel strong, safe and seen, she has only unmasked a very small part of the problem, and has left the vulnerable group feeling even more exposed than before.

Elliot talks about how the word assimilate means to become the same as the dominant culture. Because most dominant cultures are WASP, most non-WASP cultures/groups assimilate into a white way of being.  Many participants at her workshops, who were of colour, talk about how they, like the man mentioned above,  have also assimilated to get along in the dominant culture.
Fine. Ok. And then what?  How are we, as a society progressing by continuing to do the same shit when we don't like doing it, it feels painful, it feels wrong?

This is where Elliot falls short in her social experiment. Instead of taking the workshops to an expansive level, she allows them to remain at  a victim level.

A few years ago, I went to see a play with my mom about Black crime in Toronto. That Summer was dubbed "The Summer of The Gun" by the media because our city had a lot of shootings.

 The play was in a community centre in a part of the city I'm not too fond of, but I went. The play ended with one of the characters getting shot dead, just like real life, which was what the actors/writers wanted, a play people could relate to. 

Following the play, the actors opened up a discussion with the audience. My mother tried to create a dialogue about the need for higher consciousness in the play;  and she posited, instead of having  had the character killed off, why hadn't they chosen a more hopeful, creative ending? She persisted with her thesis, by adding that had a more conscious ending been created,we all would have left with more hope, new tools, and a different paradigm.

The cast got defensive and said that my mother wasn't being realistic. The reality was Black people were killing each other..blah blah.
Same rhetoric. 'Keep it real'. Stay victimized, and don't create paradigms of hope.