Posts Tagged ‘gender

Key to diversity outreach: get out of your cultural comfort zone


Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Across the country and right here in Washington, demographics have and are changing rapidly. The 2010 Census  has illuminated the increase in diversity in the United States. It has been projected that by the year 2050 in the United States, Caucasians will be in the minority. It is important to remember that diversity is not just about race, but includes gender, socio-economic status, age, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.

Diversity is also inclusive of everyone. I have personally heard Caucasian people say, “I am not diverse… I don’t have a culture”. This is far from the truth. We all bring an individual uniqueness to the world. We all have a range of experiences and background story to share. No two people are exactly the same and that is what true diversity is all about.

Non profits and businesses and cultural outreach

Many businesses and organizations are faced with the challenging task of doing outreach, whether it is recruiting diversity to boards, councils, and group membership or to the workplace. In addition, non profits, community organizations and even churches often feel the need to increase attendance at events and in programs, especially if the surrounding community have increased its diversity. Handing out flyers and translating marketing materials into different languages is a good start, but is far from enough. Relationship-building plants the seeds of understanding and provides the spark to encourage collaboration. Find the key members of communities who can give insight into the issues and needs of that community. Don’t rely on googling a race or culture to learn how to approach and interact with them. Some of this information is helpful and can provide general and historical information, but too often we fall back on stereotypes like “most Asians are quiet or studious” and “most Latinos are Catholic.”

Face to face, eye to eye contact is required to really create a meaningful connection. I recall once hearing from a Caucasian woman who said she was forming a discussion group and the first topic was to be immigration. I asked her, “Did you invite any immigrants to your group to participate in the discussion?” To my astonishment, she said “No.” I wondered, “How can you have a meaningful discussion about immigration with no immigrants present?”

Effective outreach is an ongoing mission, which means visiting churches, grocery stores, schools and even setting up booths at community events where diverse populations are. Go to them. Do not expect them to come to you. Get out of your own cultural comfort zone. Break your normal routine. Instead of shopping at Safeway, do your grocery shopping at a Pakistani grocery store. This kind of effort also shows that you are sincere about making new connections and forming new partnerships.

Exploring the “ethnic” media

Another way for businesses and organizations to make connections is by connecting with the diverse media, which includes traditional and social media. Not everyone watches KIRO News and reads the Seattle Times. In the Puget Sound area, there are over 50 culturally-diverse newspapers, websites, television and radio stations, some of which that print and broadcast news in various languages. . Check out some of these sources and if you are having an event, send your press releases to this branch of the media.

Remember, appreciating and understanding diversity is an enlightening, lifelong journey, full of surprises, revelations and new relationships.

Pecha Kucha 7 (Tacoma) – Marilyn Strickland


Monday, September 27th, 2010

The Melon interviewed Marylin Strickland back in 2009 and earlier in 2008. Check out the old interview here.

Pecha Kucha Night Tacoma Videos


Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Thanks to the work of Joe La Sac and Glynnis Kirchmeier, The Melon is pleased to present the fascinating results of Pecha Kucha Night last Wednesday. Featuring local Tacomas, Pecha Kucha Night presenters discussed identity using 20 slides each. Enjoy:


Observations of Viet Nam: Gender (Part I)


Friday, June 5th, 2009

Viet Nam is a quickly changing nation; one employee at the U.S. Consulate told my class that the assessment of the country she was giving us was completely different than the assessment she had given to another group six months earlier. I intend my comments here, then, to be a snapshot of the nation, limited not only to the early months of 2009 but also limited by my experience as a monolingual American student. I intend what I write here to be merely descriptions of my experiences rather than positive or negative judgments (unless explicitly stated).


Why gay marriage shouldn’t even be an argument


Thursday, January 29th, 2009

3017254509_3cdd1941a5So a couple of people I know have criticized Obama for supporting gay civil unions but not gay marriage. Here’s the thing about this gay marriage debate that I think most people are missing. Marriage is a religious institution (not a purely religious institution, but more on that later), which has two significant consequences. First, it legitimizes all those passages from scripture people keep quoting.  I’m not saying I agree with this, I’m just saying given the circumstances, a religious institution is freely allowed to use their scripture as their authority. Second, because marriage is a religious institution and we have a (alleged) separation of church and state, the federal government should not have any say in the matter.


If you doubt that marriage is a religious institution just take a look at who officiates the vast majority of marriages: priests, rabbis, Grand Wizards or whatever the Scientologists call their figures of religious authority. (edit: my friend is telling me that Grand Wizards are from the KKK, I would change it but I think it’s a legitimately humorous mistake. Additionally, I apparently talk out loud a lot when I type, so my apologies to those who were near me when I wrote that ZA WARUDO article, which despite it’s ridiculous name is actually a very serious and lengthy article that NONE OF YOU HAVE COMMENTED ON. Dicks.).

As I said earlier, marriage is not a purely religious institution, there are special privileges and benefits conferred upon a married couple by the federal government, such as hospital visitation rights and tax breaks. This all happens upon conferral of a federal marriage license, and can actually happen independent of any religious officials (a friend of mine received a civil marriage officiated by a Justice of the Peace). Since there is an aspect of marriage that is from the government, we have a variety of anti-discrimination laws that say you cannot discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation. Because of all this, it is our explicit duty to provide equal rights to all people, which includes offering gay civil marriages, and a difference in nomenclature (i.e. gay civil unions instead of gay marriage) is understandable because it serves to show the absence of church involvement. That being said, I think the church should get with the times and just chill the fuck out (read: offer gay marriage you close-minded jackasses).


There is an additional scientific development that makes it very interesting that gay marriage is not allowed. We live in a somewhat gender-ambiguous society, and I mean that in the sense that we have sex change operations available and transgendered persons in our country. With the existence of these things we run into a great many philosophical questions that make the absence of gay marriage rights seem kind of ridiculous. I defy any religious person to answer these conundrums, and I’m being completely serious, I will be waiting.

First conundrum, a man and woman get married, this happens very frequently. Now, after a few years of marriage, one of them decides they want a sex change operation and their partner consents, this happens less frequently. After the operation you will have either two men married, or two women married. Should the marriage be annulled? Of course not, it was legal before, they’re both still the same people, if you want to say ‘well the one who changed is still genetically of the opposite gender,’ then what about in the reverse direction? By your logic there, a man who has a sex change operation and became a woman should be allowed to marry a woman, even though genitally speaking they are the same gender. There’s also male pseudo-hermaphrodism, where things go haywire during gestation and a male is produced who looks like a girl, has boobs like a girl, has a vagina like a girl, and internally instead of a womb and ovaries like a girl, has un-descended testicles like a pre-pubescent boy. The only way in which you can avoid this person’s marriage appearing to be some sort of gay marriage, is to not let them marry anyone in the first place (there is no female pseudo-hermaphrodism) which I think we can all agree is wildly unfair.


Second conundrum, what about a man with a vagina or a woman with a penis. If a man with a vagina marries a woman with a vagina, is that gay marriage or not? If you say it is gay marriage (and not allowed) going by genitals on this issue, then you’re saying a man with a vagina can’t marry woman with a vagina, but then it should follow that a man with a vagina can marry a man a penis, and you’ve just endorsed gay marriage. If you go by genetics on this issue, then a woman with a vagina should be able to marry a male pseudo-hermaphrodite because genetically they’re man and woman even though genitally they’re vagina and vagina. An additional problem with defining marriage by genetics is that it would then, in theory, exclude anyone with Down’s Syndrome, Patau Syndrome, Edward’s Syndrome, or any number of additional chromosomal disorder (having either one extra or one fewer chromosome than normal) from marrying anyone who does not have the same chromosomal disorder. And if you say marriage should only be between a genetic male with a penis and a genetic female with a vagina, you are taking away the right to marry from a number of people naturally do not fit the mold you’re used to (and in an appeal to the religious opposition, if God didn’t want gay marriage to exist, why would we have male psuedo-hermaphrodism and intergendered?).


As you can see this can quickly become an absurdly complex law to enforce, and it becomes basically impossible to not be unfairly discriminating against at least one group of people. If you want to ban gay marriage, you’ve first got to define it rigorously or else (as I’ve conundrummed above) there will be a very large number of unfairly… I’m going to say “disenfranchised” even though I’m aware it is in no way the correct word. The correct word is to disenfranchised as marriage is to voting. Yeah, didn’t think you’d have to solve any more analogies after you took the SAT, did you?


And if your response is to say they are not human because they do not follow God’s intelligent design, I will have one of two responses. If you’re a guy, I’m going to punch you in the balls as hard as I possibly can so you can really experience just how intelligent that design was. If you’re a girl I’m going to point out to you that when you were a baby in diapers your feces regularly entered your vagina, which poses a significant health risk as well as being really, really gross.


In light of all this (well not so much this, I’m pretty sure President Obama doesn’t read my writings, although I really hope he does), our current President picked out a stance on this issue that provides as much equal rights as possible without overstepping the authority of the federal government. So lay off.

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