Welcome to “Cafe Conversations: Listening as Activism.” The catalyst for this project was the Presidential election of 2016 which cracked American society wide open revealing the racism, sexism, homophobia, elitism, snobbery, inequality and xenophobia which permeate our culture. The outcome has shown us to be a country divided between those who feel those ism’s and phobia’s are normal beliefs (which can now be freely acted out upon) and then those who have been who are outraged by these violation of human rights and are organizing, protesting and resisting.
When we listen to those who have different core values and beliefs, our sense of identity and safety can be challenged and so we shut down and only talk with people who think like we do. When this occurs it is just another way in which “Otherness” continues to divide us. In awakening to the ways my white privilege has allowed me to be complacent and live within my sphere of like minded liberals, I am seeking to go outside that sphere and try to connect with people who voted differently than I did and understand why they voted as they did. In doing so I am also exploring listening to other people’s view which I highly disagree with and see if I can cultivate tolerance for difference and allow true listening to occur. I have selected some of the most controversial topics for me to begin conversations with which include ProCon Life/Choice, ProCon Immigration, ProCon Gun control, ProCon LGBT Rights.
The structure of the conversations are simple in that I will invite someone in the community who holds a different perspective from my own to meet in their choice of a coffeehouse. From a cultural standpoint, coffeehouses have historically served as centers for social interaction, where people can congregate and talk. From a social standpoint the coffeehouse provides a neutral ground to meet, leveling out the power relationship which may be inherent in the set up of these interactions. There we can share a cup of coffee and practice non violent communication (shown in graph below) to listen to them as they share their views.
This blog will serve as documentation of the project which will include written reflections about conversations and the process of developing the project as it goes along. Included in documentation will be selected audio portions of conversations as well as photographs and videos of these “cafe conversations.”