Charlottesville Unity Days 2019

Where Do Stereotypes Come From?

     Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 7 9:30 pm


“Civic relationships are relationships of kin.  If we lived more truthfully and dared to live more lovingly, we would be more vulnerable to one another, and more trusting.  We may not pledge allegiance to the same symbols, but we would have more secrets and public spaces to share, we would remember, feel, urge, touch, and care for one another more often.  The problem with educating those who inherited a myth is their tendency to flee from touching others.  They are situated to find the assumption of interpersonal solidar- ity unnecessary because they possess the power to keep others abstract and at bay.”[1]

To the extent that civic relationships among us are built on our perceptions of each other, we should investigate the nature of perception.

   -To what extent do perceptions depend on “myth”?

   -What can we do to take control of community relationships away from myth, and bring them back toward relationships of family?

Where do the stereotypes that keep us from knowing each other come from?

The workshop:

 –  reveals the human perceptual mechanism which prevents us from breaking free of Us-Against-Them,

and it

 – distinguishes another way of seeing the world than perception, providing an actual experience of common ground.

We start by watching an old video about visual perception, optical illusions, and the role of  assumptions in interpretation.   In discussions among us, we use insights from the video to examine our current cultural interactions, from online forums and newspaper letters to political arguments.

Then we create among ourselves a different way of being together, using philosophical excerpts from Martin Buber and others.  Throughout, we engage in activities adapted from Outward Bound, to experience that other way of being together – the way that creates common ground.

Continuation sessions to deepen the distinction between power and love will be available recurrently after Unity Days, in venues and times to be determined.

[1] John P. Fantuzzo, “Facing the Civic Love Gap:  James Baldwin’s Civic Education for Interpersonal Solidarity,” Educational Theory 68:4-5, 2018.

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