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Thursday
Mar042010

Generative Engagement and Racial Tensions

Mary and I will be presenting at the Transforming Race conference in Columbus, OH, next week.  The theme of the conference is "Crisis and Opportunity in the Age of Obama."  We are excited about the prospect of sharing our model in such a powerful milieu.  I am so looking forward to hearing from and learning from people who come together to consider the the questions implied by the theme.  I am also looking forward to sharing the Generative Engagement model and hearing its impact on others' thinking.  It will be a good weekend.

The idea that each one of us, in every moment, is capable of creating generative engagements is an amazing thought to me. Oppression and bias have been held in place over years of fighting for freedom and equity because individuals, in their moment-by-moment interactions, have maintained patterns of interaction that did not allow for reciprocity, authenticity, or justice.  In individual moment-by-moment interactions, they reinforced and amplified patterns of bias, hate, and separation.  Is it possible billions of biased interactions over the years enabled legislation, laws, policies and practices that separate people; identify one group as more important or valuable than another, simply based on characteristics that, in their own rights, are neutral?

Skin color, age, sexual preference, ability, physical attributes, fiinancial or social status--none of these has actual meaning beyond the individual's own experience.  Has it happened that groups of people, through their own individual moment-by-moment interactions, have assigned meaning to these characteristics?  As long as those moment-by-moment interactions continue to allow bias and prejudice to continue, we will not eliminate racism--or any of the "isms" related to human ability or condition.

If that's the case, can we, by pushing for generative engagements, change the world?  Can we change our local connections by intentionally engaging with each other in generative ways?  Can we change the larger world, not just by our collective small actions, but also by pushing for changes that bring about a culture of generative engagements?

These are the questions I will be asking as we learn and share at the conference next week.  We'll let you know what we find.

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