Engaging Diversity with TLA
Because the whole notion of "finding your voice" is tied to communities and our culture at large including all voices (not just the voices of those in power), it's essential that those of doing TLA in our communities develop ways to engage diversity in our work. This means looking both at how to open up the emerging field of TLA to people from many backgrounds, and how to educate ourselves about privilege and oppression in American culture. It also means self-education on how we see ourselves in the world, and how we are seen by others because of our gender, color, ethnicity, ability, religion, sexual orientation, learning styles and other attributes that define us.
Why “Engaging Diversity”?
- Engaging diversity is a long-term process that will take time, energy and resources for many years if we truly are to break societal patterns as an emerging field, profession and calling.
- Truly engaging diversity in sustainable ways will take a commitment from all of us to create long-term planning that enhances, supports, challenges (at times) and sustains diversity being engaged.
- People in marginalized groups should not be put upon to carry forth a plan for engaging diversity, and to the contrary, it’s essential that people in dominant groups take leadership roles in honoring diversity and undoing racism if we are to effect real and lasting institutional change.
- The root of all oppression has to do with power relationships; therefore, it’s necessary to look at how power issues, or feelings of powerlessness, are manifested as feelings of dominance, fear, shame, control, hopelessness, guilt, resentment, confusion, etc. whether we identify as members of marginalized groups, dominant groups, or (as is often the case), as both.
- Engaging diversity is, in part, a matter of trial and error all clothed in deep commitment to learn more about how to change societal pattern
- 6Engaging diversity is essential to the development of TLA because of the very nature of TLA as helping individuals and communities find and use their voice through the language arts to effect personal and social transformation. As TLA emerges as a profession, it’s even more essential that practitioners of TLA engage diversity in their language and in their work to keep TLA from falling into elitist, societal traps of professionalization that, in turn, privilege the dominant cultural groups and dominant cultural narratives. TLA is as much about challenging, subverting and rescripting cultural mythologies and stereotypes as it is about anything. Cultivating diversity is, in essence, the spine of TLA theory and practice, and the way TLA emerges as a practice out into the world
There are a number of articles in /The Power of Words: A TLA Reader /engaging diversity, including "'TLA is a Great Bridge and More than a Bridge': An Interview with Allison Adelle Hedge Coke; "Healing Stories, Healing Songs: Native-American Traditions" by Denise Low; "Do You Hear What I heard? Theatre as Tool To Address Gossip, Silence and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Lesotho" by Katt Lissard; "The Three Candles of Hilda Stern Cohen's Story: An Interview with Gail Rosen"; and "The Good Ambush: A Two-Voice Essay on Identity, Experience and Storymaking" by Patricia Fontaine and Karen L. Campbell. Engaging diversity also in a theme in many other articles.
Difficult Dialogues: Enhancing Discussions About Diversity — http://www.jstor.org/pss/
Social Psychology Network — http://www.socialpsychology.
The Cultural / Identity Onion – Karen Campbell