19 Qudrat 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: Bob Marley “Wait In Vain”
I nullified our co-op house’s decision to call itself “Wu Wei” (by changing my “stand-aside” vote to “object”) after MCC officers expressed concern about the cultural appropriation and racist aspects of the name. There were many strong feelings on both sides of this conflict. I ran into both the MCC President and Vice President in the ensuing couple of days after they raised the issue via email, but I was not in a mood to talk to either of them about it. They probably weren’t either.
We talked about the objections to the name change at the house meeting, though almost half the house was absent from that meeting. We lacked quorum, and as such, could not make any official decisions. But we talked about the issue and we agreed that we should both talk with the concerned individuals one-on-one and also develop a unified house statement which, unfortunately, we could not develop that evening.
I’m a big believer in developing one-on-one relationships with the people I work with, and use those relationships to develop support for initiatives and also work through any problems. One thing which I think is a real failing of some houses in MCC is the tendency to publicly shame fellow co-opers. I learned a long time ago that if I had an issue with a housemate, the best way to raise the issue was to talk about it with them one-on-one, because it can be a real shock, and really emotionally draining to have someone surprise you with a public chastisement. This, unfortunately, also happens in a lot of the MCC politics between the houses, too, and so I try to do my best to avoid that.
On Monday, I sent a text message to the VP, who is a first-generation Chinese-American, asking her if we could meet for coffee. She agrees to meet before the MCC Board meeting on Wednesday.
Monday night I was surprised to discover that the gay and lesbian group in MCC posted a message on an unofficial MCC message board protesting the MCC officers’ action of terming the “Wu Wei” name racist. While the statement was not overly disrespectful, I knew that this message board could quickly turn into a bash-fest, and indeed, one person did post a follow-up message bashing the officers. A third person respectfully asked what happened and I knew I had to respond. So I tried to report, as objectively as possible about the email the officers sent and my house’s reaction to it. But, while I thanked the gay and lesbian group for their good intentions, I also raised strong objections to what I referred to as “protest-sign communication” within a community setting and said that “using a bullhorn when you’re within earshot of the person will only cause the person to cover their ears.” I said that we were trying to resolve this issue and asked that this be respected.
That stopped the conversation. The person from the gay and lesbian group who made the post exchanged a couple of emails with me afterwards, feeling a little defensive, but he also got where I was coming from, though he expressed concern that this was a situation that all of MCC needed to know about.
This is turning into a very long post, so I’m going to cut it off here, and go into part 2 later…