Rev Irene Monroe

Learning to talk across our differences

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | August 10, 2007 8:09 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: blogging, race, respect

(Note: This was originally posted last night minutes before our presidential forum coverage began and got knocked off page 1 almost immediately. I'm moving it up to this morning because the Reverend's points about how we talk are important to keep in mind, even in the blog world, even for your esteemed content editor. ~Alex)

It is an honor to be a contributor to this site. And I am elated that my recent submission “Will the HRC-Logo debate be a white queer public soliloquy?” has stirred up a heated debate. However I am quite dismayed by how the conversation is not a healthy debate and has devolved into character assassinations truncating our ability to hear and learn from one another.

The foremost prerequisites for talking across our differences should in my opinion be the following: an opened and inquiring mind; genuine regard for the ongoing discourse, commitment to work seriously to understand ideas and their consequences; dedication to truth, willingness to scrutinize honestly our collective, differentiated, interwoven, and painful pasts; and respect for the comments of the voices whose opinions we shall engage.

Our collective responsibility on this website should aim to create and maintain an atmosphere conducive to rigorous intellectual dialogue, analysis and critique on any subject topic.

However it is of my opinion that in order to foster such an environment we might consider the following to engage in respectful communication:

1. We will listen to one another -- patiently, carefully-- assuming that each one of us is always doing the best that she can. We will speak thoughtfully. We will speak in the first person.

2. Although our disagreements may be vigorous, they will not be conducted in a win-lose manner. We will take care that all participants are given the opportunity to engage in the conversation.

3. We will own our assumptions, our conclusions, and their implications. We will be open to another’s intellectual growth and change.

4. We cannot be blamed for misinformation we have been taught and have absorbed from our U.S. society and culture, but we will be held responsible for repeating misinformation after we have learned otherwise.

5. We each have an obligation to actively combat stereotypes so that we can begin to eradicate the biases which prevent us from envisioning the well being of us all.

In other words, RESPECTFUL COMMUNICATION would consist of the following:

R = take RESPONSIBILITY for what you say and feel without blaming others.

E = use EMPATHETIC listening.

S = be SENSITIVE to differences in communication styles.

P = PONDER on what you hear and feel before you speak.

E = EXAMINE your own assumptions and perceptions.


T = TOLERATE ambiguity because we are NOT here to debate who is right or wrong.

Let us be united in this journey to learn from one another. This site not only dwarfs the physical distance we have from one another but this site also have the capacity to dwarf our ideological and political distances that keeps us as foes of one another.

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Leland Frances | August 9, 2007 10:01 PM

Lovely. And you aren't owning your failure to acknowledge Jonathan Capehart's participation in the "white queer public soliloquy because_______________?

Being Hispanic myself, the whole "GLBT representation is dominated by white queers" argument seems pretty bland to me.

The reason why black and Hispanic communities are not included often in GLBT gatherings is because most of time they themselves won't want to be included. It is fairly often when I see Hispanic and black gay men not identifying as "gay," but rather as the preposterous "men who sleep with men." Most of it stems from their closeted, sexist notions of "manhood." They won't go to Pride parades to celebrate diversity, will often ridicule their more feminine fellows, and prefer to keep up appearances.

I don't want anything to do with such retrograde cultures. I may be called a coward or culture sell-out, but I don't consider myself to be tied to anyone or anything. I adopt the culture that best fits my beliefs of progress. It doesn't help much that I'm a somewhat masculine, Hispanic, gay, feminist,and atheist man. Either way, I'll be jumped on for being "straight-acting," for being an atheist on a majorly religious culture, or for
"siding with women" by being a feminist, so I might as well seek the best environment to make the rest of my natural life fulfilling.

Rev. Monroe, thank you for these respectful and reasonable suggestions. If we could allow practice these principles perhaps we could truly become a 'community'.