Tag Archives: anti-racism

Beyond Our Wildest Dreams?

21 Mar

I’ve just finished reading “Beyond Our Wildest Dreams” by Susan and Kenneth Webb (so says the cover anyways, it reads like it was all written by Susan).  It promises “the story of the Farm and Wilderness camps” and it’s a memoir written for the 50th anniversary of said camps (which was in 1989 – the year before I started going).  It really made me wish there were a longer and more in-depth history of the place in some form.  There was a lot in it that I didn’t know – details about the Catamount bell that keeps time for Timberlake, or the origin of Flying Cloud – but it wasn’t written to be a history.

My overall impression from the writing is that Ken and Susan had this vision of a camp that was the absolute perfect vision for the time and place so it was impossible for them to not succeed.  There were so many points in the story where they were both sure they were thwarted only to have some miracle swoop in and rescue them (and the camps), it’s almost a thriller of a novel.  It’s also an indication that they held the correct truth for the land where Farm and Wilderness now exists.  Everywhere they went to talk about their vision, or their camp (and later, multiple camps) the response was always a profound relief and appreciation.  It makes me miss them, and I never knew them.

They had such a powerful compassion for their vision and such strong convictions for how things ought to be that things had no choice but to become that way.  Reading the memoir makes me both miss camp powerfully and be sad again at how far from Ken and Susan’s vision they seem to have strayed.  Farm and Wilderness was never anti-anything, and it certainly never had to be “anti-racist.”  Farm and Wilderness lived and grew through the Civil Rights Movement and it was an unsung hero at the forefront of Civil Rights.  Ken and Susan ignored bomb threats to travel south and try to recruit campers.  They admitted their first african american camper after the camps were “full” and despite the fact that half of their paying clients were southerners and left them after they did so.  They had convictions and they stuck to them.  They believed in Quaker ideals, they believed the human body to be a miracle and “God’s greatest gift.”   If they had ever noticed a decline in the number of campers participating in suitless swimming they would have tried to figure out where they had gone wrong in teaching this.  They never apologized for these beliefs.  They never consented that they might be wrong about them.

They never allowed anyone to doubt them, because they were right.

 I’m also surprised to learn how strong (and due to whom) the connection between the contra dance world and Farm and Wilderness used to be.  It saddens me that the camps do not dance as much as they used to.  I learned to dance at camp and it’s possible I wouldn’t be in the community I am in now if I hadn’t.

The world is always changing, and businesses (and particularly businesses which educate children) have to be always changing as well, but some core truths remain the same.  They ought not to be compromised, and they ought to always be taught.


Not about racism. Or Lady in the Water.

26 Jul

While “against anti-racism: a new paradigm for a new world” is what initially inspired me to sit down and write something constructive with my strong emotional response, that title is really disingenuous.
What I’m writing and posting up here are pieces of a rough draft of some larger work. I don’t know what it will become (although I have visions of me defending my book to Stephen Colbert).

I’m not all that interested in racism, to be honest. Generally I find it to be a stultifying topic, which I avoid.

Yet I continue to feel strongly about what Farm and Wilderness is doing in the name of anti-racism, and their response to the idea of systemic racism. So now I’m looking into racism, anti-racism, and institutional (or systemic) racism. It’s more interesting than I expected, but so far what I’ve read and learned doesn’t seem to get at what frustrates me.
Nor is it really what interests me.
I’m much more interested in things like the composition and design of reality. What is knowledge and perhaps more importantly, how do we quantify it? Is it possible to “know” something instinctually, balls to bones, without having studied it or learned about it? Then there’s the fluid nature of truth; how does an individual’s perspective relate to (and change) truth?
Then there’s the nature of human individuals, and how we relate to, affect, and are affected by larger systems and world programs.
Racism, or anti-racism, is really just a subplot. A footnote. Maybe there will be a chapter about it or something.

Racism – proudly made in America

20 Jul

When I wrote that meme thing about the six things, the first one was about how much I get pissed off by Crossroads Anti-Racism and that seemed like a fairly odd thing to write. They don’t go around kicking puppies (as far as I know) so it’s not as if they’re the easiest group in the world to hate. But I thought about it, and realized that so few things in the world make me feel that strongly, one way or the other, that I should probably do something with that emotion. So taking a page from writersblocklive I’m going to interactively write my response (tentatively called “against anti-racism, A new paradigm for a new world”). This means that as I write things, or get ideas for things I should write, I post them. This means that you’re reading this book (or whatever it becomes) as I write it, so not only will you read the final thing before everyone else, you’ll read all the early drafts, pieces, and cut bits.
And you can tell me how to change them. And why. Does what I wrote make sense? Are there details missing? Am I wrong? Is there a better metaphor? A different and more useful way to explain something? It’s your mission to let me know.

So without further ado, here’s what I wrote this morning:

Racism – proudly made in America