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"Slipping" and the college as a case study

starfish's picture

Chapter Eight of “Slipping” is about the “slow”, and “messy” process that is a community’s trying to better themselves as related to issues of diversity. The thesis of the chapter seems to be that making mistakes (slipping) in this process is central to questioning previously unaddressed elements of how we approach diversity. I agree that, of course, any attempt at creating a more inclusive community will involve mistakes, and that often these may provide a learning opportunity. One example given in the chapter is of questioning our assumptions about what inclusivity means by analyzing our use of the word “welcoming” (a slip), in discussions about diversity. But, this example, as does much of the chapter, uses an academic setting as a case study. I am not sure that the premise of slipping as leading to constructive interaction would hold as true in society as a whole, where there is less of a cohesive, hyper self awareness, such as can be found in a small, “intentional” community such as a liberal arts college. Society as a whole may lack the will for self awareness to choose to learn from its slips. This is not to say that slipping can’t be part of the process of construction in a broader community, only that it will require the conscious efforts of subgroups to reflect on it constructively. Slipping is a beneficial, but not a natural process. We must choose to learn.