MKP Equitable Community Train Station

No. 7 • September 2018 • ManKind Project USA

Welcome back to the train station after a summer hiatus! This ECI co-coordinator (see the explanation for the change in title below) spent the summer in Durango, CO experiencing a powerful leadership and personal growth training - life changing!! But that's another story...
This month's issue holds a mix of current topics - read on...


Relationships & MKP Workshop

Saturday, September 15, 2018, 9am - 4pm

Land of the Sky Church
15 Overbrook Place, Asheville, NC

Leaders: Christie Miller (Woman Within) & Jim Miller (MKP)

For many men, their journey in MKP has had profound impacts on their relationships and their partners. Enhancing? Nurturing? Confusing? Distancing? Inflaming? Destroying? This workshop will be an opportunity to share and learn about those impacts, in a safe container, with a vision for new understanding and healing. Maybe for the first time! 
Please become part of this conversation.

                                        - all are welcome (not just for couples)
                               - bring a bag lunch
                               - plenty of parking available
                               - arrive by 8:45 - meet in Fellowship Hall
Coming soon...
Greater Carolinas Area Equitable Community Training

This will be an ongoing multi-format training available exclusively to the GCA community. Created and guided by our own Dr. Thomas Griggs, this program will be part of a conscious effort to increase inclusivity and create equitable community in the GCA.

Stay tuned for more information!
LKS Language Update & Cultural Appropriation

Recently, the LKS International headmen sent out a notice of recommended change in language and terminology for roles and rituals performed during an NWTA, addressing the shadow of cultural appropriation. For the full text of that notice, click HERE.

So, let's look further at Cultural Appropriation... 
There are many definitions, but the one I like that speaks to the essence of it's offensiveness is: "where members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group"
For an excellent article teasing out cultural appropriation as being tied to racism, oppression and colonialism, click HERE.

So what is? What isn't? Is C.A. always bad? Are there other ways of looking at this issue?...
In response to the LKS notice, several GCA men responded. Some of their comments included the following:
In regard to Asheville's opening rituals of smudging and calling in directions before i-groups, "I wholly object to what I'm seeing as essentially putting on brownface, and I find digging up unfamiliar unfamiliar traditions inauthentic and against our stated mission. Why are we burning sage? It doesn't grow here. Why are we saying "aho"? That's not a word I grew up with. How might it look if we started our evenings step-dancing? Certainly, it might be a way to connect to the moment, our community and our bodies, but I can assure you it would not look good or reflect well upon us and I don't see how some of the practices at MKP are any different. I argue that if you are not deeply cognizant of your own cultural practices and folkways, then they are not YOUR practices and folkways to appropriate, and by doing so is to embody the colonizer and the oppressor and creates a space that is not safe for people of color."  M.H.

And another man expresses, "My desire would be to wholeheartedly adopt the language change mandated, and encourage us to lean into the anthropological research available, to see if we can retrieve nomenclature and practices that are indigenous to places more reflective of our actual (present) membership makeup... to have names and practices more native to our actual constituency... in creative tension with the desire to reflect multicultural awareness." M.M.
This ECI rep's response:  Other Possibilities...
Probably in the US more than most countries, people practice rituals, use language and eat foods that don't originate from their culture of origin (whether that's back 3 or 30 generations). And certainly, much of our US history contains oppression, racism, and colonialism. Clearly, much of the former has occurred through the execution of the latter.

Stopping all cultural appropriation now will not erase crimes of the past. Nor will it create reconciliation and connection. And who gets to decide what is and what isn't cultural appropriation? I believe this approach is short-sighted. Here are some other possibilities...

1. Be mindful - increase your awareness of the rituals you practice, the music you listen to, and the clothes you wear. Where did these originate? How did they get to you? Make your choice a conscious one.
2. Be curious - with humility, ask questions. How did this come about? What was it's purpose? Is this a sacred practice in that culture? Do the research. Don't assume.
3. Look at impact - all our choices have impacts. Direct and indirect. Your intention does not negate your impact. Who is impacted by your cultural and spiritual choices? In what way? Find out! Impacts are not inherently good or bad. You get to decide.
4. Educate yourself and others - how did this custom come to you? Was it shared or was it taken? Was there a price paid? By whom and why? Learn their cultural history and your ancestor's roles in that history. Learn, acknowledge and speak the truth. Share what you've learned with others.
5. Create connection - true relationship overcomes "otherness." Step out of your comfort zone. Make a new connection with someone whose culture differs from yours. Be truly curious. Ask about their cultural practices. Step into their world rather than inviting them into yours, and ask permission - check your privilege!
6. Work toward social justice - How can you contribute toward a more equitable community and world? What positive action can you take? What results will you declare? If not you, who? If not now, when?

                                                            Alan Kay
                                                            Courageous Buck with points of light

Change in titles...

With an increasing awareness of the impact of our words, MKP USA has shifted from the focus on multi-cultural (what cultures are we focused on??) to one of inclusivity and equal opportunity, hence the shift to Equitable Community

ManKind Project's stated Equitable Community Initiative vision is that of "a truly inclusive and equitable environment for participants of ManKind Project and all those with whom we come in contact with in fulfillment of our missions."

In the GCA, we support this change in focus and thus, the change in newsletter title and title of representatives to ECI Co-reps!
Greater Carolinas Area ECI Annual Report

To read the report submitted at the recent annual meeting by ECI co-reps Alan Kay and Steven Reeves, click HERE.