A while back, Ronnie did a blog post about this. It's here. She recently got this comment to that post:
Is it okay for unschooling conferences and gatherings to be made up of 99 percent people who appear to be white or identify as white? What about 95 percent? Or 90 percent? I don't think it is.
Unschooling, as a philosophy and ideology, is supposed to be best for everyone, not just some people who have certain characteristics. So, why would these conferences be heavily weighted with white folks?
There are a lot of reasons for this, so I'm asking rhetorically. However, I think it's really important that unschooling conferences start making an effort to confront racism directly in order to make sure these conferences are as multicultural as possible. Maybe we need to put together an explicitly multicultural unschooling conference in order to help raise awareness of the fact that other conferences are not multicultural?!? I don't know, what do you think?
I was motivated to respond. Let me start at the beginning and respond to these questions in order.
Q1. Is it okay for unschooling conferences and gatherings to be made up of 99 percent people who appear to be White or identify as White? What about 95 percent? Or 90 percent?
A. Yes, because that simply happens to be the current demographic of U.S. unschooling. Unschooling itself and unschooling conferences in and of themselves have no causative ability or power over this: non causa pro causa. You're confusing self-selection with active restriction (racism, sexism, any-ism).
The Marcy Playground Tennis Club will probably be composed mostly of people who enjoy tennis. It will be heavily weighted (biased!) toward tennis players. People who are not tennis players are not specifically or actively restricted from participating, they're simply not interested. The group forms by self-selection, not restrictive exclusivity. If it happens to be mostly White (or mostly Black, or mostly left-handed, NAZI atheists), that's due to other factors, not tennis itself or this tennis club in particular. Are there individual members of this tennis club who are prejudiced against Blacks or left-handed NAZI atheists or even objectivist anarchocapitalists? Possibly, even probably. What does that say about prejudice and exclusivity in tennis or in this group? Nothing. Abusus non tollit usum. Unschooling and unschooling conferences, idem.
Let's consider a couple of alternate scenarios.
Belle de Foret Tennis Club has a membership fee of $50K, annual dues of $12K, and a requirement to spend at least $12K/year in their facilities on gear, meals, etc. Not for everyone, obviously, but does this money barrier constitute specific restrictive exclusivity? Much as I personally think we should eat the rich, I can't honestly call this unacceptably restrictive. There are several unschooling conferences we'd like to attend but we can't afford to; we are financially restricted from attending them. Should we put together a conference explicitly to raise awareness that poor people are restricted from attending (some) unschooling conferences? Who's gonna pay for it?
Ye Olde White Man's Tennis Consortium refuses to accept non-Whites, non-heteros, non-Christians, etc. ad nauseum. This is clearly a case where the group itself is actively, selectively restricting membership. This is not the case for unschooling in general or unschooling conferences in particular. There is no unschooling conference anywhere that I've heard of which discriminates against "multiculturalism," whatever you mean by that.
'nuff said on that one.
Q2. Why are these conferences heavily weighted with White folks?
A. My Zen-like response is: Because they are. I think it's disingenuous to pose this question in this manner. You know as well as I, or anyone, that sociocultural factors are the dominant effector here. Unschooling and unschooling conferences are neither causative nor purposefully restrictive.
Q3. Maybe we need to put together an explicitly multicultural unschooling conference in order to help raise awareness of the fact that other conferences are not multicultural?
A. Feel free to create such a conference. Some specifics might be helpful to those of us who find your language somewhat fuzzy, like your logic. I deny your contention that other conferences are not "multicultural."
Datzawl from me. I now return to my usual self-centered psychotic babbling.