Working Well: Workplace Wellness Initiative
MODULE 2: IDENTITY
SESSION 3: INTERSECTIONALITY
As human beings, we are made up of many identities. We are three-dimensional beings, with many different skills. interests, hobbies, habits and visible and invisible identities.
In this session, you will explore:
- the shared humanity that makes us all like glass
- the benefits of "going organic"
- overview of intersecting identities
- white privilege
1) WE ARE LIKE GLASS
Sometimes people in our lives can be quarrelsome, annoying, dishonest or some other trait and it can lead us to become frustrated. At times like this, it may be helpful to remember the humanity that binds us all. People are doing their respective best with the tools they have available.
Read this poem, as a silent reflection for yourself.
"We Are Like Glass"*
Glass is a reminder of the strength and fragility
that exists in every on of us.
Like glass, we are beautiful and luminous.
Like glass, we are fragile and shatter without care.
Like glass, we are also strong and powerful.
Like glass, we are reflections of our past.
Like the sands of glass, we can come together,
help each other, and accomplish amazing things.
Take care of the beauty and strength within yourself
and within everyone around you.
*This poem is widely credited to the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia.
2) WHY GO ORGANIC?
Today, the media, news and culture is filled with this word: "ORGANIC".
Do you "go organic"? If not, have you considered why you might want to?
ORGANIC: a term to describe produce or other food has been planted, harvested and produced without the use of harmful chemicals like pesticides (to kill bugs) or herbicides (to kill invading plants or weeds).
Since this session is about intersectionality, consider how going organic might not only be good for you, but good for others.
Organic is good for everyone because:
- the harmful chemicals get into the food as well as the dirt and groundwater below the surface. The chemicals also wash into the rivers, lakes and oceans that create more massive pollution that affects all animals.
- buying produce or food from local famers puts money back into the pockets of people you know who live in your neighborhood instead of the owners or stakeholders of massive corporations.
Some people think buying organic produce or other foods is too expensive. This can be true, because of the way our culture makes organic food more available to some people. Sometimes it just takes a rearrangements of priorities to free up some money we need.
Take a good look at your expenses for the past two weeks. Examine every purchase and every bill. Some are necessary, some are choices. Select five things you purchased this week that were not necessary, for example a tattoo or coffee at a local cafe or video games. Consider that extra money could have been the extra money you needed to buy organic produce.
3) INTERSECTING IDENTITIES
As human beings, we are made up of multiple facets or identities. Depending on the identities we claim or possess, we experience widely varied experiences in society. The writer and poet, Audre Lorde, wrote about this in an academic essay entitled, "Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference" in 1984. She describes the traits most revered in modern American society:
The extent to which ANY PERSON does not fit or match those traits listed above determines the experience that person will have in our society. Some people have more of those traits than others, some have none at all---consider what life is like for those people.
Identity five people you know and consider which of the above traits they possess. It may not be obvious to you so it may help to open conversation with people you know. Discuss this list with those people, ask them which traits they feel they possess and which they do not.
Do not make judgments on their opinions or what they say, merely ask questions and show your appreciation for their honesty.
4) WHITE PRIVILEGE
Peggy McIntosh was a Women's Studies scholar at Wellesley College. Here's more about Peggy from an article by Joshua Rothman* in the New Yorker on 5/12/14:
In 1988, McIntosh wrote a paper called “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies,” which contained forty-six examples of white privilege. (No. 21: “I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.” No. 24: “I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the ‘person in charge,’ I will be facing a person of my race.”)
Click here to read Joshua's article which includes a wonderful interview with Peggy, herself.
Why did I include this in my course? Because there's something for everyone to learn by looking at how race is constructed in our country. It doesn't need to be something to feel guilty or badly about, but it takes a mature person to see the impact of power based on how we are perceived. Race is ONE way that happens in our country. It also happen with ability level, gender identity, socioeconomic class, etc. The extent to which we know ourselves determines what we can create for ourselves by overcoming perceived (or real) limitations.
As we explored in the nutrition module, everyone doesn't need to be a vegetarian or vegan. Meat works best for some people. What is important to realize, however, is that all meat is not made or produced the same way. There are important truths about the modern factory-farming culture that produces a large amount of the meat we consume.
What happens to those animals affects them, you AND the environment.
You can find many books and articles about this topic, but I rather enjoy this video, created by Free Range Studios.
Read more here:
"In early 2003, Free Range Studios awarded a grant to GRACE's Sustainable Table® program to create an animated movie. The studio was impressed that Sustainable Table not only educated viewers about factory farming but also offered simple solutions to support sustainable food and agriculture. They created The Meatrix, spoofing The Matrix movie while educating viewers about the problems with factory farming."
Click the video below to watch the MEATRIX: