I hope it’s okay to post without it being an assignment.
And I further hope that it’s okay to plug my old roommates blog, although that’s not the reason for posting this.
He has a recent entry that has simply fascinated me; I don’t know why.Â I sort of ranted off in a long comment.Â I thought both his entry & my commentÂ might lead to an interesting discussion over here- especially given the (relative) homogeneity of our group.Â Â
And, yes, apparently, homogeneity is pretty much my word of the week.
Let diversity thrive!
But when I consider Lichtenbergianism, I am tempted to see it as a way an admitted few suffer and endure a rather restricted environment, not as an escape from diversity, but as a way to survive the poverty of experience a lack of diversity imposes. There’s not much difference between Newnan and Texas.
Or, alternatively, we small town creative types who suffer through all this doubt and self-questioning and band together for support are a reflection of a very restricted–severely homogenous–group. Very male, very white, merely straight, enough privileges to have just enough education, a certain capacity to ape discernment and sophistication (of a kind very Euro-centric in tone), etc. A more diverse assembly would be baffled by our little neurotic confabs. Certainly there are many who would not identify or comprehend or even have sympathy. So if we actively sought out more diversity in our numbers, we would have to set aside the restrictive particularities that already inform our identity.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Were we supposed to talk about education?
As to education. Our cultural inheritances impose restrictions. And I tend to believe that it is the restrictions on our sensibilities that lead us to be responsible learners. English for me, to adapt a phrase from Freud, is destiny. Where it has been, I have been, where it’s going, I’m going. It suffuses the gravity that holds my feet to the floor and has helped me temper and develop some sort of upright posture. As a learner, I move out from that initial orientation, that sense of grounded reality. From that place I begin to encounter other things, other languages, cultures, sensibilities, etc., etc. It is how I limp along.
If I understand and appreciate the contingencies of who I am and of what I am made, I am in a better position to encounter and to learn from diversity. If instead of an initial grounding in what is real for me, I am bombarded from the get go with a non-stop exotic banquet and expected to cull a sensibility from that, I will be rootless and petulant, possibly spoiled. I won’t acknowledge the gravity of expression and subjectivity in others and their traditions. I may not acknowledge that the knowledge I possess is incomplete or under-developed. I may not develop at all.
However, my respect for a tradition-infused pedagogy is not to be confused with what closed minded, white tribal imperialists in Texas are up to.
What of the school that is sixty percent latino, you might ask. How do you have tradition-grounded pedagogy in a situation like that? Well, the day to day world of those students is in part a genesis of some new and very different cultural touchstones. You acknowledge that the fundamentals are different, the contingencies are different. You change the tradition well-springs accordingly. It’s now about Spanish-English. It’s about the world of recent immigrant experiences.
Were we supposed to talk about diversity of gender and sexual orientation in the arts and education?
One small firebomb: August Wilson is perhaps not the person to throw out there in discussions of diversity, not until he rises from his grave and agrees that a) it was perfectly fine for me to cast Matthew Bailey in whatever Shakespeare I wanted to; b) it is OK for me to direct one of his plays; and c) it would be OK for me to cast Jobie as Herald Loomis in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.
I certainly understand the Wilson/musical “black shows” comment. Name a quality play that is written for a specifically integrated cast that is not about race relations, as we used to call them. Shows that are written for specific ethnic casting are all ghettos.
In the name of diversity, I am inviting Kathryn, a woomyn, to join this discussion.
I think both Wilson and Brustein understood the essence of good theatre.
What Marc said.
(Still waiting on Kathryn.)
Diversity does not serve hegemony. Unless you make diversity hegemonic. Then it’s probably no longer really diversity.
Institutions seek language that identifies and promotes commonality. What then of diversity?
Diversity seeks consensus. Yes, we all agree it’s crucial.
Diversity and democracy? Who makes the decisions in a democracy? The majority. How do you have a diverse majority?
I would love to set The Dybbuk in a home in Newnan Pines just a golf ball’s throw from the Country Club.
I understand the sentiment that inspired the article, poster, and Jobie. However, in so far as education goes, my first instincts are to agree with what I think Marc is saying. Education tends to use the model of building blocks, and those blocks lie on a foundation of experience and culture. It helps if the early blocks, in particular, are familiar to the culture (re: historically poor minority performance on standardized text constructed from unfamiliar reference points)
This does not excuse the complete omission of difference experiences, but perhaps explains it. This explanation weakens significantly as education progresses further from the foundation, however. IOW, it is more understandable if 3rd graders haven’t been exposed to things beyond their culture than it is for seniors in High School. At some point diversity of experience becomes the point, rather than a challenge.
The article also made me thing of things like the High’s recent show on Impressionists. Shouldn’t a properly constructed show of this sort be agnostic to race/orientation/age?