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.
We often hear people utter the mantra, “Think outside the box.” It’s become the hold-all for creative thinking, problem solving and even good leadership.
But how often do we often think about the box itself? How often do we consider that, by thinking outside it, we stray away from the box — even ignore it completely — and miss the truth of the matter:
The box is the problem. It’s too big, too small, the wrong shape, the wrong colour.
As promised, here is the blog remix I presented yesterday at the EOPHEA Conference. Hi and thanks to those who attended. You'll see I only got about halfway through ;-)
I work in the area of social change, and I often find it hard to explain what exactly I do. So I'm going to demonstrate it. At the end of this talk, by listening to it, you will have changed, just a little, as will I have also, simply by saying it. And that, in essence, is the nature of social change.
I want to tell you two stories and link them to four ideas: gratitude, compassion, rainbows and leadership. First story: A few months ago my boyfriend and I went to stay a night at the Westin Hotel down on the viaduct. We checked in to one room with a double bed so it was obvious we were a couple. The two guys on the desk, whom we presumed were straight, didn't blink an eye and were polite and professional to the extreme.
Today is Pink Shirt Day - but it's more than just a day to wear pink and talk about kids being mean to each other because of their sexual preference or gender identity. I think it's a day to reflect on the bullying nature of our society in general.
All of our major institutions use bullying, stand-over and fear tactics to gain power and control over others. We see it in politics, religion, business, media, sport, welfare, social services, education and our justice system.
Let's face it —we live in a bullying world and we deify people who trigger bullying behaviour.
Freelance journalist Karl du Fresne's recent blog post continues a theme he began in a column in The Dominion Post in February 2008, where he wrote that "a law change requiring intellectually disabled workers to be paid the legal minimum wage was a triumph of human rights ideology over common sense."
So, what's his latest blog about – the inappropriateness of an ideological and statutory change, or the incompetence of one of NZ's largest service providers to competently and progressively respond to that change? I think he is confusing the two and I'm not sure whether he's intentionally doing that – in order to try and argue the point – or not.
His argument as it stands could be like saying we shouldn't allow women to vote because some choose not to; or we shouldn't allow same-sex marriages because some will end in divorce. Based on the democratic capitalistic system we are all beholden to, the repeal of the DPEP Act was consistent with the notion of a fair and just society.
It's Leadership Week! So, in celebration, let's ponder whether banning smoking in prisons an example of the Nats falling prey to political correctness and explore a potential trend away from young people wanting to learn from their elders...
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Remember when Wayne Mapp was National's “Political Correctness Eradicator”?
As I watch BP's oil gush into the Gulf, I can't help but feel slightly impotent. I'm not usually one to confuse my manhood with world events.
There's something paralysing about watching the reckless, ravishing waste in my living room each night. It makes me want to stride into somewhere with manly authority, sort it all out and make it stop.
But I can't and that makes me feel limp with inadequacy.
Both have fuelled debates in the media, as well as the lounges and lunch rooms of the nation. The arguments ranged from accusations of racism and even terrorist intent, to justifications of harmless fun and political correctness. Mitigations have come thick and fast: the use of similar terms like "honky" for Europeans and the commonplace acceptance of blonde jokes make ginga-hugging and darkie-calling okay.
I'm not going to wade into the dialectic exercise of deciding whether either were right or wrong — to be frank, I think both debates are trivial in the scheme of things. What interests me is that both issues exemplified our obsession with characterising ourselves and each other visually and, specifically, by reference to colour.
(This post is adapted from email correspondence.)
A Facebook friend contacted me recently about an essay he was writing at University about intercultural competence. He figured I was the local expert on diversity issues, so was wondering if he could get some help.
In his essay he was trying to show that, when a person finds themselves to be in a minority, (be it through race, sexual orientation, or ability level), they are better equipped to handle intercultural situations because they are more likely to understand the nature of diversity.
The revelation that BBC presenter Ray Gosling killed his lover who was in the final stages of AIDS 20 years ago has ignited claims by disability activists that the British media is promoting mercy killing.
In her blog, Disabled People Fight Back, Clair Lewis warns:
"...the British media are determined, in the main, to promote the acceptability of killing sick and disabled people. The Independent has been the only newspaper with anything like balance in it's comment. Mostly, killers have been lauded as heroes and victims. Ray Gosling is the latest example in a busy month of it and my fingers are getting sore from complaining."