Posted by: abbiewatters | November 21, 2016

From Tolerance to Engagement: Why “tolerance” and “celebrating diversity” set the bar too low.

Chapter 43 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Have you ever been to an event that celebrated diversity? What did you learn about the various cultures’ belief systems? Did the event give you insight into how a person from that culture might feel, given their cultural values and habits, if they tried to engage in an organization steeped in values and habits from the dominant white culture?

When we lived in Dallas, we became friends with a Muslim couple from Turkey. We met them when a group from their social club deliberately reached out to Christians and Jews following 9-11. They “got it”. They invited us to intimate family dinners, and to large gatherings. Often there was no “program”. Just folks getting together and having a meal together.

We learned their names, and the names of their children. They learned our names and some of our ways. Many/most of the men were PhD students or medical students at various hospitals. For a while many of the women struggled with English and were more reserved.

But the women decided the best way to connect with American women would be to hold cooking classes, and teach us how to fix the Turkish delicacies they were missing. DOING something together is a really good way to learn about another person. When the other person is teaching you how to do something, you really learn to appreciate them.

Once the women were comfortable with teaching us, they let us into their lives, and we began to understand how much they had to offer us. We laughed together, we cried together, we ate together, and we shared our lives.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.

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