Monday, 10 December 2012


An afternoon well spent in a workshop at Diversity Hub, sharing their training on issues of identity and stereotypes: recognising the former, challenging the latter. Apparently, I'd booked on to this weeks - if not months - ago. Thanks to Bill Malley for reminding me about it when we met for one of our occasional working breakfasts this morning!

There are 15 attendees, most of us employed or volunteering in roles where we engage with such matters on a daily basis. We're at varying levels of development, experience and knowledge and we respond differently to the content of the session. The notion that we as individuals, as members of communities - and that those communities themselves - are all made up of a bundle of different identities isn't new to me, nor is it something I find uncomfortable to acknowledge and live with. That's not necessarily the case with everyone though - which leads to some strongly felt contributions going into the pot this afternoon.

Given the variety of people taking part, I guess the topic is pitched about right. Personally, I'd like such acknowledgement to go further, and consider the competing, even contradictory positions that can co-exist within each of us, that vie for dominance and contest the right to expression. I'm reminded of two sources that I've been considering recently on this very subject:
From Michelle de Montaigne's Self-Portrait (published 1580):
All contradiction may be found in me by some twist and by some fashion. Bashful, insolent, chaste, lascivious; talkative, taciturn; tough, delicate; clever, stupid; surly, affable; lying, truthful; learned, ignorant; liberal, miserly and prodigal; all this I see in myself to some extent according to how I turn; and whoever really studies himself rally attentively finds in himself, yes, even in his judgment, this gyration and discord. I have nothing to say about myself, absolutely, simply, and solidly, without confusion and without mixture or in one word.… We are all patchwork, and so shapeless and diverse in composition that each bit, each moment, plays its own game. At times we are as different from ourselves as we are from others.

From Walt Whitman's Song of Myself (published 1855) section 51:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

On a lighter note, I can't help but pipe up in the session to say that I feel we talk about plenty of tough, gritty, scarred “survivor” aspects of identity, but we never do enough (sometimes, never do anything) to celebrate what I like to think of as the “sparkly” or “twinkly” things about ourselves, the more light, fluffy, joyous parts to our identities that even our closest friends, colleagues and co-workers might never suspect. I am sure you have a few of these about you, faithful reader – I know I do!

1 comment:

  1. This blog post was picked up and reposted by DMU & Leicester - a daily that collates tweets about De Monfort University (in particular) and Leicester (in general), compiles them in an online magazine format which are then tweeted to more than 640 followers.

    Follow this link to see the post in the archives section. It can be found in the Tuesday 18 December edition under #Leicester: