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Privilege (to be) at STIA2014

Many people spoke in the plenaries at STIA 2014 of belonging and feeling like a fish in water.

I do not share that experience. I like the thinking and dialogue; there is a live and loud discomfort as well.

The discomfort is most explicitly that in the STIA temenos (container) there is a lack of diversity from my perspective (most palpably around race, ethnicity, class, education) coupled with a sense, from some, that this is fullness of community. At Passover Seder, we sing Dayenu translated as “it should have been enough,” implying that it is both enough and not enough.

It is fabulous to find communities or systems where we belong. And, given the moment we are living in, grounded in a powerful legacy of systemic oppression and life and death issues for many communities (take, for example, the individual and state sanctioned violence against African Americans), and who we fully are in the US and the world, this is not enough. Ceasar McDowell writes: “designing for people living on the margins can create powerful positive change that flows outward and up.” And, I would add, we must look to the margins, the experts themselves, for innovation and thinking/acting about systems.

From a place of love I ask myself and the STIA community:

  • How can we think and act on systems with so few of us, all of us, in the room?
  • What might we do to change our makeup and enlarge who feels deep belonging here?
  • How do I see myself as an enabler of racism or exclusion or oppression, either explicitly or through lack of awareness?
  • What can I do to change that?

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