Why Build on New Ground?
We believe the vast majority of present-day struggles to communicate in a diverse world are related to residual, inherited patterns that perpetuate systemic oppression. Even the most forward-thinking organizations are working against the socialized tendency of some or all participants to deprioritize historically marginalized voices, rendering their experiences, needs, and concerns of a lower visibility. The dominant culture (which often defaults to focusing on those who are white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle class, young, and male, or some combination thereof) leaves little room for representation (and therefore care and appreciation) of people defined by the mainstream as “other.” As a result, people of privilege are less likely to be required or inclined to pay attention to, be invested in, and prioritize the experiences of oppressed peoples. This phenomenon is so pervasive that most people with lived experience of privilege cannot see how their lives have been shaped by it, and consequently, who they are pushing to the margins. Most attempts to include multiple perspectives use a superficial patch instead of building in careful attention and compassion from the ground up—such that everyone’s humanity is at the center of our common conversation.
Though this underlying dynamic plays out constantly in various extreme situations (scandals, demonstrations, etc), these problems exist before we ever reach a breaking point. The everyday experience of these issues often looks like:
- Difficulty creating a welcoming environment for and retaining systemically oppressed employees/students
- legal embroilments (civil rights violations, gender violence, sexual harassment, etc)
- Coded, inaccessible language and cultural messages
- Stated commitments to addressing discriminatory actions without follow through or accountability
We believe that once we deliberately break down our culturally-trained social blinders, and work to see each other as human beings, we have the capacity and emotional fuel to get through moments of conflict, and grow together in ways that create lasting change.
Learn more about Our Approach here.