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Re: Diversity statement for the Debian Project

On Sun, Apr 01, 2012 at 11:59:01AM +0100, Philip Hands wrote:
> On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 19:07:33 -0400, Kevin Mark <kevin.mark@verizon.net> wrote:
> > If we say we accept people of all races or that we dont discriminate
> > based on race, then we are not the ones who are going to discriminate,
> > and this is a good thing and is welcoming.
> Well, except for the fact that by saying that one is reinforcing the
> notion that race means something useful, which it really doesn't.

In an ideal world, none of this would matter. Alas, we do not live in that
place. In a world with people of one skin color, it would not matter. Again,
that is not where we live. There are people who see skin color as something
other than another shade of the rainbow and see it as some indicator of their
place in some hierarchy. To ask someone what background they consider
themselves, most will include various things including race and nationality. To
these people who so identify, it matters, as any aspect of identity. It is
another matter how some other person labels them and is of no concern. If
someone takes pride in their identity and asks that others respect that choice,
I find it reasonable for this community to say that they wish to include such
people. I dont define 'racist' as one who identifies with a race, you'd be hard
pressed to find someone who does not, but if someone seeks to negatively
discriminate against a person based upon race, that would be how I would define
it. The people who did that to this person in that article I would so consider,
South Africa and the US have had periods where racism was 'De Facto' and 'De
Jeur'. Today the US still has this but in more subtle ways. I assume the same
is true of South Africa but I have less knowledge about it. So I dont consider
the choices people make with regard to their identity to 'not really matter'
and its something that is not 'left to bean counters'. 

Now the issue is how should this affect this community of people, should we do
nothing and continue to accept the people who have found their way here who
seem to fall into a narrow band of identify facets or is there some value in
seeking to attract more diversity? Most business do nothing to seek diversity
and as a result they seem to look much like Debian has looked before an
initiative by certain interested people. 

This statement is aspirational as the DFSG and as the mission of the FSF. To
aspire to things where we feel the world would be a better place if it was so.
If this community feels that we should do nothing different and that this is
the best for us, that there is no need to aspire to improve it. 

The makeup of the project is not an accident. Things seen and unseen, wording,
language, tone, real life and virtual interaction, modes of argumentation, and
many other things affect who joins and who leaves and who stays. 

This statement is just one aspect of a goal to attract people who indentify
from less common aspects. 

I recall Bubulle went on a trip to India to include Indian people into our
family because there was not many chances to join the required web of trust. It
took an effort that he was willing to make.  And he also was part of the group
of people who brought a diversity of cheese to our annual events. I long to
sample cheeses sweet, stinky, yellow and otherwise. I think such examples are
what we need more of. 

> For instance, what race would Sandra Laing be, daughter of generations
> of white Afrikaners, with the misfortune to have been born with black
> skin under apartheid:
>    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2003/mar/17/features11.g2
> The concept of race only seems to be useful to racists, and perhaps
> bean-counters who want to demonstrate their organization's lack of
> racism by the racial diversity that they can get people to admit to on
> forms.
> Cheers, Phil.
> -- 
> |)|  Philip Hands [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]    http://www.hands.com/
> |-|  HANDS.COM Ltd.                    http://www.uk.debian.org/
> |(|  10 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, London  E18 1NE  ENGLAND

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In his book, Mr. DePree tells the story of how designer George Nelson urged
that the company also take on Charles Eames in the late 1940s.  Max's father,
J. DePree, co-founder of the company with Herman Miller in 1923, asked Mr.
Nelson if he really wanted to share the limited opportunities of a then-small
company with another designer.  "George's response was something like this:
'Charles Eames is an unusual talent.  He is very different from me.  The
company needs us both.  I want very much to have Charles Eames share in
whatever potential there is.'"
-- Max DePree, chairman and CEO of Herman Miller Inc., "Herman Miller's
   Secrets of Corporate Creativity", The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 1988

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