Thursday, October 24, 2013

key terms related to exclusion and embrace

This is an ongoing collection of key terms and concepts that people should know and understand, to assist with understanding exclusion and embrace, diversity, and more. Most items are a brief introduction to the concept, with links to more detailed information or discussion.

concept: generous spaciousness*

This is an absolutely key concept, related to the "environment, climate, ethos within expressions of the Christian community as it pertains to engaging with gender and sexual minority persons."

Rather than providing a really brief explanation on this page, read more about generous spaciousness on its own post and then follow up by clicking some of the links on that page.

concept: privilege*

Google offers the following definition of privilege:
"A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to one person or group of people."

KJ Ward, writing at Black Girl Dangerous, defines privilege this way:
"unearned access to a bunch of good stuff and an arbitrarily granted protection from a bunch of bad stuff".

Accordingly, one might think of diplomatic immunity or the privileges that come with membership in an exclusive golf club or with first class plane tickets. But privilege as we are talking about it here is a more complex term, and one which is often difficult for those who are in privileged places to grasp. Let's use an example to illustrate it:
A white person goes into the store to get a birthday gift for their niece. Generally speaking, they never have to think about the following:
Will I be able to find a doll of the same race as my niece?
Will the store staff be worried that I'm going to steal things?
Will store security follow me around?
A black person or an aboriginal person goes into a store for the same purpose, and for them, these are often relevant questions!

Privilege is being able to live your life without ever having to think about such questions.

There are many kinds of privilege: white privilege, male privilege, straight privilege, cis privilege, Christian privilege, and others.

Read more about white privilege (including 50 daily effects of white privilege).
Read more about straight privilege (with parallels to the white privilege article).
Watch some amazing videos by Australian performance poet Joel McKerrow, as he says sorry for the white part in him, the rich part in him, the Christian part of him, and the masculine part of him.
Read Christena Cleveland about Killing Me Softly: On Privilege and Voice.
See also white fragility further down on this page.

[the rest of the concepts are in alphabetical order for your convenience]

concept: black sheep effect

Social identity researchers have found that ideological distinctions are so crucial to differentiating groups that groups have a special hatred for other group members who for the most part act like normal group members but do not “toe the party line” on one or two issues. [iii] This effect is called the black sheep effect and is based on the idea that nongroup members are supposed to disagree with us. As such, we are not as threatened by their disagreement. If anything, their disagreement with us further distinguishes us from them. Fellow group members, on the other hand, are supposed to agree with us, so we are shocked and appalled if they express disagreement. Further, their disagreement with us serves to blur the ideological lines between our group and other groups and this makes us feel angry and threatened.
From Christena Cleveland (source)

concept: casual homophobia

This term, coined by Patrick Burke of You Can Play Project, refers to the casual use of gay slurs in sports and other contexts where the user is not specifically speaking to or against lgbt people, but using the slurs as a way of putting down others. Examples would include calling someone on the opposite team "You f***ing faggot", and saying "That's so gay" about something unrelated to sexuality

concept: the church needs lgbt people*

In I Corinthians 12: 12-14, it says:
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

And just as the physical body cannot reject one part on the basis of "not needing it", so the body of Christ needs all parts and all peoples, together, in our Lord Jesus Christ.  We need each other. If one part is missing, we all suffer - both the part that is missing, and the parts that are where we are.

See my post on eccelsia.

concept: disputable matters*

Disputable matter is a concept which comes out of some New Testament texts in which early Christian were disagreeing about certain issues.The particular issues referred to in Romans 14 relate to eating meat which has been sacrificed to idols and rules about keeping the Sabbath. I Corinthians 8:10 addresses these as well.

What is notable about these texts is that rather than the apostle Paul (or someone else) telling believers what is right or what to do, these situations are left open-ended -- people can follow their conscience.

Essentially, a disputable matter exists where two Christians (or groups of Christians) have different and incompatible views on an issue, and where the Biblical instruction is to follow your conscience and live peaceably together. This is not simply "agreeing to disagree."

The concept has been applied to questions around same-sex relationships and marriage. Of course, some would say that this is in no way a disputable matter, that the Bible is clear, and that the Bible was talking about minor issues rather than such serious ones. Nonetheless, if you are looking for different ways to think about how to interact with those who have different views on key matters, check out the following excellent posts at New Direction which present and discuss the concept of disputable matters in great detail:

a disputable matter part 1  part 2  part 3  part 4  part 5  part 6  part 7

concept: driving while black

Driving While Black (DWB) refers to "the racial profiling of black drivers. The phrase implies that a motorist may be pulled over by a police officer simply because he or she is black, and then questioned, searched, and/or charged with a trivial offense." (source).

concept: erasure

"The story is either never told or it's told by everybody but us." DeRay McKesson at the GLAAD Gala San Francisco, November 7, 2015.

Watch his talk here.

concept: evanjellyfish

Used by conservative religious people to insult someone who claims to be evangelical but whom they feel is not keeping the law well enough, is not standing on the gospel, is not faithful the way they define it, is loving people too much.

See my post on evanjellyfish plus a follow up post.

concept: gender confirmation surgery

Also sometimes known as gender reassignment surgery. See myths about gender confirmation surgery.

concept: a god who looks like us

People aren't always wanting a god who is made in the image of western Christians. They want a god who looks like them.

See a god who looks like us.

concept: hospitality

This blog has a whole page where I am collecting quotes on hospitality. As well, you can see all posts on hospitality.

concept: humility when interacting with people who understand Scripture differently*

How do we understand Scripture? And how do we understand how we understand it? Do we believe that we (or the church we attend) has the correct interpretation and understanding of everything in the Bible?

The Bible may be inerrant and infallible, but we as humans are definitely fallible. The same goes for our pastors and churches, no matter how much some of them pretend to have the final absolutely correct word on the Word.

If we understand and accept our "seeing through a mirror darkly" as a given, then humility when interacting with people who understand Scripture differently is in order, as is an openness to hearing how and why they see things as they do.

Read more about this on my post "four things I wish my church taught..."

concept: "I accept you"

Sometimes straight people say, either in general or to an lgbt individual, "I accept gay people" or "I accept you". Or someone might say this about their neighbour who has different beliefs, or belongs to a different religion, or whatever.

The problem with saying "I accept you" to someone or about a group of people, is that it implies you have the power and authority to decide if they are acceptable or not. It is a phrase of the privileged.

In reality, you don't have such power and authority, unless people let you have it over them. And increasingly, people in minorities are realizing that they don't need you to accept them. They are acceptable because of who they are.

concept: infrahumanization

"Infrahumanisation refers to the tacitly held belief that one's ingroup is more human than an outgroup" (source). This is usually done subconsciously, and by determining that the other group lacks some key human qualities. This is often related to emotions: while everyone feels the primary emotions (happiness, anger, fear, etc. -- emotions which are common to people and humans), only those in our "in group" feel the secondary emotions (hope, jealousy, remorse, love -- emotions which are only found in people). Thus, as those in the outgroup do not have (viz., are perceived not to have) the emotions which appear only in humans, they are considered to be subhuman.

Learn more at wikipedia.

concept: intersectionality

Intersectionality deals with how various kinds of discrimination and prejudice can intersect so that for some people, it weighs down even more heavily. For example, early women suffragettes were white women who specifically did not include black women, some because they felt black women were inferior and others because they knew that including black women would impede their cause. Thus, black women were not only discriminated against by whites, but by other women as well.

See Erin V. Echols for a good article on this.

concept: Mad Pride

Mad Pride is a movement that uses "alternative self-definitions for those labeled bipolar or schizophrenic". The movement is primarily peer-run, refers to mental health conditions as "dangerous gifts", is pro-choice about taking medication, and has extensive peer-based support networks. "They challenge the entire rationale behind diagnosis itself: did such diagnoses help in the end or simply box people in with labels and mislabels?"
"The more intellectual Mad Priders deem today's diagnostic trend to have a colonial cast: the more powerful class of the medical establishmet and the pharmaceutical companies are cordoning off people who are "healthy" and calling them "sick" and thus in need of experts' intervention.... Hall said he hopes Icarus will 'push the emergence of mental diversity. I am proud to be who I am and of my extreme states, no matter what the doctors say.'" (Republic of Outsiders, quotes from pages 3, 5, 15) 
concept: mansplaining

Mansplaining is "that thing where men explain things to women without acknowledging their intelligence, knowledge, or familiarity with subject matter" (source).

Read more about mansplaining (includes 5 ways to know when you are mansplaining and how to change that).

concept: microaggression

Microagressions are short statements of discrimination. They tend to be commonplace phrases that communicate hostile or negative insults that target a person or group in regard to their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc.

Some examples of microagressions directed at lgbt people include "you have a demon" or "so, who's the man in your relationship?" Racial microagressions include "where are you really from?" and "I never think of you as a black girl". If you look up microagressions on google images, you will find no shortage of people holding signs with other examples.

concept: model minority

'We must remember the history of the model minority myth and the function it serves. The true purpose of viewing Asians as superior is not to compliment Asians nor to denigrate whites, but to undergird black oppression. Whenever someone says, "Asians are naturally (insert positive characteristic)," the unspoken corollary has been, and continues to infer, "and black people are not.'
Read more about this.

concept: moral circle

The psychological circle that differentiates for us between those who are family and those who are not.
See my posts on moral circles.

concept: neurodiversity

Also known as 'autistic rights', neurodiversity is a "mostly Web-based movement" that "strives to redefine how America thinks not only about autism but also about normality itself.... it questions whether there reall is, or should be, a normal way for all of us to emote, process experience and information, and interact with others." (Republic of Outsiders, p. 54)
Related: "Neurotypicals" are "people whose minds are wired to operate more conventionally" than the neurodiverse.

concept: oppression sickness

"Oppression sickness is a legacy of cultural oppression suffered by African Americans and passed down from generation to generation. Religious authorities with a history of rejection turn into oppressors by excluding and condemning those of whom they disapprove. ..."
From Where the Edge Gathers: Building a Community of Radical Inclusion by Yvette Flunder.

concept: othering

The word "other", which we often use as an adjective or pronoun, can also be a verb. Here are two examples from a comment made by Jarred in a comment at bridging the gap:

Talking about promiscuity, he says, "It's a word that I have come to see as representative of a mindset that tends to be dismissive, judgmental, and otherwise othering towards those who find ..."
And used in a different way in a different sentence: "They still have a tendency to other and even vilify those gay people who subscribe to other sexual ethics."

Edward Said, in his book Orientalism, wrote: ‘The development and maintenance of every culture requires the existence of another different and competing alter ego. The construction of identity… whether Orient or Occident, France or Britain… involves establishing opposites and otherness whose actuality is always subject to the continuous interpretation and reinterpretation of their differences from us."

For more on this word / reality, see Othering 101 and The Other and Othering.

concept: POC

Abbreviation for people of colour, used to collectively refer to all people except those who are caucasian.

concept: polite white supremacy

"Polite White Supremacy is the notion that whites should remain the ruling class while denying that they are the ruling class, politely. Affectionately, it’s called #PWS for short. It has been referred to as the Casual American Caste System, Delicate Apartheid, Gentle Oppression, or what I like to call it after a few drinks: Chad Crow, the super chill grandson of Jim Crow."

Read the rest of Yawo Brown's article What is Polite White Supremacy?

concept: pride parades, etc.

A question that some straight people ask regarding gay pride parades, is "Why do they have gay pride parades? We don't have straight pride parades." Some white people ask similar questions about events like Black History month.

Anthony Venn-Brown said it this way: "most people don't understand gay pride because they've never experienced gay shame." (comment at august 1/13).

And that's why there's gay pride -- because of years of being shamed and put down and oppressed. That's also why there are no (or at least, few) straight pride parades -- because straight people have not been shamed and oppressed as a group, and because most of life has heterosexuality as the dominant theme.

Similarly, there's Black History month because for years the history of Black people as they tell it and see it has been ignored and suppressed, and the main story being told is that of the whites and of their perspective on others. In other words, all history was white history, even if it was about black people or Asian people or aboriginal people. Black History month is a way for black people to tell their story, their way, and to celebrate their history.

concept: queer

Queer is used in several ways:
1. As an umbrella term to refer to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, two-spirited, questioning people as well as others who do not identify themselves as heterosexual.
2. As a "political statement, as well as a sexual orientation, which advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid." (source)
3. Related to the previous usage, some use it as a means of empowerment. For example, an activist LGBT organization that started in New York in the 1990's chose the name Queer Nation as a way of reclaiming the word.
4. As a derogatory word, a way to put down those who are in sexual minorities. Some older LGBT people object to its use because of having experienced its use in this way. Others sometimes "reject the use of this term due to its connotations of deviance and its tendency to gloss over and sometimes deny the differences between these groups". (source)

concept: reappropriation

"Reappropriation is the cultural process by which a group reclaims—re-appropriates—terms or artifacts that were previously used in a way disparaging of that group.[1] For example, since the early 1970s, much terminology referring to homosexuality—such as gay and (to a lesser extent) queer and poof—has been reappropriated. Another example of reappropriation would be an African American collecting lawn jockeys or other artifacts of darky iconography." (source)

concept: the right to decide what you want to be called

Hugh Hollowell says, “A fundamental human right is to get to decide what you want people to call you." Do not use labels for others that they do not like or find offensive. Find out what words they use to describe themselves, and use them!

Some specific examples:
Black people:
Historically, various terms of been applied to or used by black people (I use this term because it's more common in Canada, and because I am not only referring to African Americans!). From negro and nigger to colored to Negro (capitalized during the civil rights movement) to black to African-American in 1988 under the influence of Rev. Jesse Jackson, and other variations. And today, there is still discussion in the U.S. among black people as to whether they are black, or African-American, or just American, or ?
So this is a trickier one in the U.S.

In Canada, it's pretty easy -- the word is usually black. In any case, take your cue from how your friends or acquaintances identify themselves.
For more on this, read Some blacks insist: I'm not African-American! and Don't call me African-American.

Gay people:
As Hugh Hollowell says, “A fundamental human right is to get to decide what you want people to call you. And the people we are in this room talking about want to be called gay. Gay is always appropriate. There are other words – lesbian, queer and so on. But the safest one is gay.”

Using the word "homosexual" is a clear signal that the speaker is an evangelical Christian who is not open to those in sexual minorities. Not a good way to encourage interaction and human dignity.

Transgender people:
The word is transgender -- yes, even as an adjective (usage: a transgender woman...). But more important is to use the same gender noun that the person is using. If they identify as male, use he, him, his. If they identify as female, use she, her, hers. It's not rocket science! And it goes a long way in terms of respect.

concept: the self of the other matters more than my truth*

People are more important than things and more important than beliefs. This does not mean we give up beliefs, but that we prioritize the dignity and worth of another person above beliefs that we hold.

Read what Miroslav Volf says about this.
Read more about this on my post "four things I wish my church taught..."
Read from key principles about this.
Read about brutal unity and how it related to this.

concept: sin is the practice of exclusion

This concept was introduced by Volf and discussed further by Richard Beck. Fascinating and makes a whole lot of sense.

Read a short quote from Volf about this idea.

concept: single stories

Stories told from one perspective, and heard so often, that we come to believe that these stories tell the entire truth. In reality, they show us only one side, when we really need to hear about both sides -- or all sides -- of a person, a place, a history.

Read more about single stories.

concept: space to be

It is important for everyone to have spaces where they can be themselves, where self-censorship is not needed, where they can be real, frank, unguarded. Where they are accepted as they are right now, with whatever is happening in their lives.

concept: starlight tours

"Starlight tours is a term used to describe a police practice whereby police officers pick up individuals – usually first nation citizens – in urban settings, drive them to remote rural areas, and drop them off, regardless of freezing temperatures."  (source). There are allegations that this has resulted in the death of several aboriginal men in the Saskatoon area.

concept: stigmatoclast

Similar to the word iconoclast (literally, someone who smashes religious icons, but also used to refer to someone who attacks or destroys beliefs and institutions), a "stigmatoclast" is someone who breaks or smashes stigmas. And yes, I made up the word, partly to use in my signature tagline: "amateur lover. fledgling advocateur. aspiring stigmatoclast". Google it and you'll only find it here!

The term can also be used of Jesus. Wendy Gritter writes:
My only hope, in this challenging arena is to return to the person and ministry of Jesus. Jesus did not protect and perpetuate the culture of his day. He superseded culture in his radical inclusiveness. He broke social stigma wherever he went. He embodied a more radical humility than I could ever hope to model. My only hope is to connect with my African brothers around the person of Jesus.
A regular theme on this blog. Read the article in which Wendy wrote this. (link broken)

concept: telling our own stories

For those in privileged groups, this is not so much about telling our own stories (which get told all the time and everywhere) as it is about making room for others to tell their own stories instead of telling their stories for them.

Read three questions to ask of any social justice narrative.

concept: uncertain spaces*

Uncertain spaces are those spaces which have not declared themselves regarding if and how they value and embrace diverse people. In contrast, declared spaces have clearly articulated if and how they value and embrace diverse people.

Recommended: read my article about uncertain spaces.

concept: white fragility

"White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium."

Robin DiAngelo in the abstract for White Fragility
Short article by Matthew Rindge on white privilege and white fragility.

This page is really a place for me to collect concepts and terms in one place, so that I can find them easily when needed. If you find it useful, that's great. I will also be adding more concepts to this page over time.

For suggestions, corrections, enhancements, etc., please use the comment section.

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