Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of Law October 17, 2010 San Rafael, CA
“We are all androgynous, not only because we are allborn of a woman impregnated by the seed of a man but because each of us, helplessly and forever,contains the other -- male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white. We are a part ofeach other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it. -- James Baldwin
Global Inter- & Intra- Connectedness Our world today is complex and interconnected Global labor market Global credit market Global climate change The World Wide Web
Important Issues Climate change PovertyMigration Diversity These can be both challenges and opportunities.
Being in Relationship A proper relationship is one that acknowledges our relationship to everything. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. Hows the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What is water?” David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College commencement speech. May 21, 2005
Intra- & Inter- Connected We are in relationships not only with each other but also with ourselves and with processes, called things. We need to find a balance of the individual and the collective. Individual and community should not compete.
Interconnectedness We need to be continually aware of our interconnectedness. Consider how humans connect and organize: Families What does this connectedness mean Tribes Ethically? Communities Nations Morally? The world, etc. Socially? Culturally?
Uneven Connections We often underestimate our connectedness. Recognizing relationships is not enough. Our relations can be distorted by structure and power imbalances. Our relatedness is uneven and mediated through: Space Structures Languages Cultures
Our Unconscience Even our unconscience is social. People raised in different areas have different unconsciences.
In the Eye of the Beholder Industrialized societies: Line A is shorter Small-scale Societies: A & B appear the sameJones, Dan. (2010). “A WEIRD View of Human Nature Skews Psychologists’ Studies.” Science 328(5986): 1627.
Where is this family sitting?Your response is indicative of your cultural orientation.
The Dancing Girl Illusionhttp://www.moillusions.com/2007/06/spinning-sihouette-optical-illusion.html
The Dancing Girl Illusion How did you see her? Can you change how you look at her? She doesn’t change directions.
Linkages We need to focus not only on the things, but also the relationship between the things. “What is food?” Everything. One person’s waste can be food for another. Relationships are complicated.
Systems view A systems theory model changes our analysis of responsibility and response to harms. Ex: Climate change: Caused by cumulative and mutual actions of many actors and structures Need for collective/structural action No need to show intent before responding
“Low Synergy” Societies Individuals advance at the expense of others Zero-sum equation Low synergy societies exacerbate inequalities by limiting opportunities.
“High Synergy” Societies Individual good is linked to community advancement through institutional arrangements. People are encouraged to uplift the community. High synergy societies promote equality.
Envisioning a “High Synergy” Society We are related – not isolated. Racial and spatial segregation (religious, otherness) can impede our ability to see ourselves as a interdependent. Diversity can be a great strength if we use it to forge relationships. OR, it can lead to fragmented spaces and meaning.
Dancing in a Dynamic World We live in a dynamic world where relationships, cultures, and structures are always in process. Differences are both related and dynamic.
Moving Towards High Synergy Change the way we think about ourselves Change the way we think about our communities Changes in institutional arrangements
DancingThe way we relate to each other matters. The way we relate to systems matters. The way we relate to matter matters.
“We need to look at the individual in terms of many different relationships to him/herself, many things inrelationship to his/her community and to thelarger community, not just in isolation. If we takethis approach seriously, it affects how we see theworld, how we experience ourselves, how we doour work, and helps move us to a truly inclusiveparadigm.” ~ john a. powell