This essay, and the podcast, recall a recent experience I had in my journey of inclusion. In the spring of 2020, weeks after the murder of George Floyd, I was doing a certification program in Equity and Inclusion from a major "Ivy League" caliber US university. Being in the early days of the Covid restrictions the cohort was very international. I was one of 6 white Americans out of 32 students, and over half of the students were outside the US. One of the assigned books was "White Fragility", which was de rigueur in all my professional circles at the time. When we gathered for our class discussion (a shifting Zoom meeting to accommodate international time zones) I was stunned to hear the three black women and two black men in the cohort, who were all born and raised on the African continent (Western and South central Africa countries), demand to know why we were reading a colonialist apologetic. They spent 45 minutes critiquing the book as an extension of reductivist views of African culture and history rooted in white supremacy. Many of us sat in stunned silence. It was a book that was, at the moment, beyond questioning. (I do think it brings some uniquely American perspectives and critiques, but my subsequent work on international coaching teams has reinforced the views expressed by my fellow student cohorts). Humans are complex. Our histories are complex (much of modern Western math has roots in what are now African and middle Eastern countries, so a "mathematical view" is not inherently European, contrary to many white, progressive conversations around race). Reducing us to soundbites and snippets is a tactic of power that we have inherited from empire. It is endemic, and it does not comport with a progressive and open worldview. We are still struggling to shed the history of power, reductivism, and bias, even in our attempts at equity and inclusion.

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Mar 9, 2023Liked by Mo Perry

Good, good, all good. I've just finished listening to 4 episodes of the podcast and found it surprisingly broad-ranging, often about changing social dynamics in the age of the internet as it is about JK Rowling.

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Just had to pop over and say “hi” after seeing your comment on The Free Press. I am a proud Minneapolitan, and I’ve been shocked and dismayed by the rising authoritarianism in my once very-liberal cohort. I say “once” because even though my friends and family still would call themselves liberals, they’ve adopted a very illiberal mode of discourse.

I got into huge trouble on FB and Twitter for saying a lab leak was a possible source of the SARS-COV2 virus. I didn’t say it was certain, or even likely; just said it was a possibility. There have been dozens of documented cases in the past of pathogens leaking from research facilities; a kind of thing which has actually happened is, by definition, possible. Again, not saying it was definite or even probable. Just possible.

The pile-on I got from my friends and family was insane.

I eventually gave up on Facebook and nuked my old Twitter account.

I’m as leftist as it gets, so seeing the Left embrace corporatism and reject civil liberties over the past 4 years has been disheartening for me. I haven’t left the Left, but the Left is leaving me.

The two cartoons you posted really sum it up. I posted that we shouldn’t assume that people who disagree with us are crazy, stupid, or evil, that we should strive to understand opposing viewpoints even if we disagree with them, that we can’t learn anything new if we think we’re right all the time, and that we shouldn’t assume “our side” is immune to propaganda. The responses were basically the same thinking as illustrated in those cartoons.

I’m worried that we’re heading toward literal thought police, or something like the Cultural Revolution.

Thanks for your excellent post.

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This is excellent. From one Minnesotan to another: thank you.

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Mar 23, 2023Liked by Mo Perry

Hi Mo. stumbled on your site from the free press. After 30 years of living in south Mpls and raising my (now grown) kids there, I threw in the towel and moved to a farm.

(Added then deleted approximately 15 more paragraphs 🤪)

Hello and I look forward to reading more of your missives.

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Mo Perry

FYI good interview with Vincent Lloyd on his classroom experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2EA3LoUbv4

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Mar 12, 2023Liked by Mo Perry

Once again, Mo, you serve a feast of wonderful insights and questions raised and pondered in your writing. I appreciate and applaud your efforts! Genuine dialogue feels lost to me in midst of the five minute news cycle, twitter sized point of view positions all in service to a zero sum game mind set. Have we stopped (or did we ever) truly listen to one another or are we stuck setting up a scoring repartee? Have we lost the wisdom of trying to imagine the journey in another’s moccasins? I’m 75 this year and my plan is to claim my place at the fire to listen, converse, and learn, too. Off now to check out the podcast.

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And how ironic that it was all in response to a podcast entitled "Witch trials of..."

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It has become a cult. Do not question the orthodoxy or face banishment.

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Great article and thoughts, Mo - thank you! And you have come up against the same forces that triggered the exodus of many from the online community you and I met on, which is to me still utterly bizarre, given what that community was meant to be about.

I will try to have a listen to the podcasts, though as a Brit I have already followed JK Rowling's journey on this topic on and off. I have a lot of empathy for her, and though her tweets have indeed been biting, she has been standing up for herself and pushing back with her gift of words and I can't really fault her.

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