This week I was part of a panel for Leadership New Zealand tasked with speaking to this post's title. No pressure. By the time Dr Wayne Hope (AUT University), Qiujing Wong (Borderless), Rewi Spraggon and myself had traversed it, it was obvious how broad the topic was.
I could begin to speak on behalf of my fellow panellists, but thought I'd share my thoughts.
I began by sharing this media release I wrote in 2005 in response to the then National Party's appointment of Wayne Mapp as "Political Correctness Eradicator". Aside from the stupidity of the role, I pointed out that, ten years on, the token gestures paid to diversity in the arts, media and cultural spheres haven't really increased.
On 13 August the story broke about the suicide of a prisoner on remand at Mount Eden Prison.
In a separate story I found that the fine to Serco, contracted to run the joint, for the death of a prisoner in custody from unnatural causes is $150,000, exactly the same as the fine for an escaped prisoner.
I felt compelled to tweet:
Last week, three people I know within one or two degrees of separation, were affected by cancer — one was diagnosed, one came out of remission and one died. Call me sensitive, but I was a bit shell-shocked.
We've almost come to take cancer for granted — even accept it as fate. We see it as this mysterious medical problem that's suddenly become pandemic, at least in the western world. Meanwhile, friends tell me other life-threatening conditions like heart failure are decreasing.
So what's going on here? I'm not buying it.
As welfare states come crashing down around the (western) world, the demand for employment and requirement to be employed increase. New Zealand's welfare lexicon has changed from "beneficiary" to the default "jobseeker".
Meanwhile industry and technology improves, meaning more machines, computers and robots do more and more jobs for us. I mean, that has been the whole idea of industrial and technological revolutions, hasn't it? To decrease the need for humans to do stuff.
'Right' is an interesting word. It can refer to the state of being correct, a (legal) entitlement, a conservative political stance, the opposite direction to left, among other things.
But the belief that one is right about, or has a right to, a certain thing, with no willingness to change stance, can lead to a varying number of undesirable outcomes. It also ignores the diversity and complexity involved in a lot of decision-making processes.
This is the submission I made recently to the Productivity Commission's Inquiry into More Effective Social Services, in response to Chapter 11: Client choice and empowerment. Submissions closed in June.
I am Managing Director of Diversity New Zealand Ltd. I am recognised in New Zealand and overseas as a social and creative entrepreneur with fifteen years’ experience as a professional, award-winning comedian. My company works to develop capacity in individuals, teams, organisations and communities in the areas of leadership, diversity, complexity and change.
I use Individualised Funding (IF) to manage my support.
Reflecting this week on Helen Razer's recent article State sanctioned gay marriage is defeat by assimilation, as well as being part of a civic process, about which if I told you I'd have to kill you, I've been pondering again the issue of the inclusion and representation of minority or marginalised groups in mainstream institutions and civic life.
Razer quotes US academic Yasmin Nair, asserting that the “'complicated and caring networks of friendship that exceeded the limitations of biological family or commonly understood relationships' we see developing in urban queer histories are now at risk of being forgotten and quashed."
I think this could be said of more than just queer histories. It would seem that indigenous, ethnic, disabled and other "othered" histories are at risk of decimation as the demand to be "part of mainstream life" — which really means "if you let me become part of your normal club I promise I'll play by your normal rules" — becomes the yardstick for success of every non-mainstream group.
I couldn't be at Parliament today but thanks to Maryan Street for reading my message:
Many disabled people oppose the legalisation of assisted dying, as they fear it will make people feel obliged to end their own lives so as not to be a burden on family, friends, and society. I strongly disagree – disabled people can also suffer from terminal illnesses and deserve the same rights to dignity and autonomy as non-disabled people. Conflating the issues of disability discrimination and assisted dying is not useful – we should not deny one right by promoting another. As a staunchly active disabled person, I value equally my right to live and my right to choose to end my life in the case of acute suffering.
View slides on SlideShare »
The question of diversity and inclusion in schools is by no means a new one. Some do it well, some refuse and most, I would say, are just not sure where to start.
Preparing a keynote for Auckland Careers and Transition Educators –whose "main focus is on the career education of youth and their transition into the wider world of employment, training and/or further education", I began by reflecting on the question, "Can we get straight from diversity to inclusion?" It occurred to me that, no, we can't.
12 June is the "Day of Silence", "a day of action in which students across New Zealand vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, name-calling and harassment in schools."
At Epsom Girls Grammar School, however, 12 June will be a day of anti-silence. Students who are part of DIVINQ – a process targeted at senior students that I co-created with Jeannie Grant, which uses philosophical inquiry to explore the ways our identity is limited by assumptions, labels and fear of difference –will be taking a different tack.
We'll be shouting about bullying all over the school at lunchtime.