A Minority View

"Reason belongs to all," Heraclitus may have said, "and yet everyone thinks they have a private understanding."

Bruce wrote (re Women only?),

{ Generally speaking, where a minority has been systematically and
{ deliberately excluded, minority groups seem one of the more effective
{ tools for dealing with both that exclusion and the resultant
{ disenfranchisement. In my country, I've watched racial minorities use this
{ tool to deal with their situation, often to good effect.  Education of the
{ minority, the exclusive majority, and usually the general public are the
{ primary goals of such groups, when effective. 
Your perceptions are accurate, but dont we lose something if we only look at 'big' (and physically distinguishable) minority classes? What is 'education' when oneself is it -- as the proverbial latecomer to the party, or a stranger in a strange land? How does 'education' translate in cyberspace, where there are (as yet) no compulsions to learn anything from anybody? Is the chap who posts in HTML not a minority in the same way as the Irish-Lithuanian black acrobat?

What occurs to me is that majority and minority are terms reflecting narrow-minded and open- minded respectively. All that need change is the perceptual environment; the context that one pays attention to -- or, equivalently, doesnt need to attend to. According to their familiarity with the surroundings, A is 'surprised' to see someone at the mailbox in the dark of night and adds a new datum to her (rapidly growing) store of things to get used to; B knows that Joe always gets the mail when he gets off work, and thinks nothing of it. Now, suppose it wasnt Joe after all? Now neither A (because she has no (contextual) basis for judgement) nor B (because the datum doesnt exist for him) does anything, but that's not the point; the question is, who was paying attention? (Who will recall what they were doing at the time, when the mail-theft inquiry begins? Most likely A.)

To put it another way, who will first notice when Joe stops picking up his mail? Most likely B, because that is a (Batesonian) change in his world; for him, Joes regularity is a 'signal identifying the context' (SIC) 'meaning' (so far as it goes) that all is well in the neighborhood. For A, it means nothing; its a 'random' event.

With this perspective, then, quilters and quilting are the context in which the basketmakers feel 'out of place' and uncomfortable and strange. What do they do? They form a group in which they feel 'at home' and comfortable and familiar -- in short, and in that context, they are now the majority, and any visiting quilter becomes a minority. (1)

{ The second general issue is the motivation for organizing such groups.
In 019, I wrote,
"There is very little need for an exclusionary minority group of any sort _unless_ it helps its members meet the challenge of educating the dominant majority to the mysteries of communicating with said minority."
What are the choices, in this SIC framework? The group can adopt the dominant (quilters) style -- but this is to play the same game as before; nothing has changed. (Watch out when the meek inherit the earth, for then it shall be their turn.)

Or they can take advantage of the role reversal, 'role-play' communicating contexts, raise their collective consciousness and apply it to the 'real world.' Isnt this called learning?

Further, by looking at relationships in this way, arent we talking about 'old hands' and 'newbies'? In the 'life-cycle' of a mailing list, isn't the continual transformation of 'wide-eyed' newcomers/ lurkers to active participants necessary to keep the list(-context) from collapsing in on itself?

Hmmm. 'Coming of age' is also called 'coming into ones majority'; that is, youve learned everyhting you need to know. So, doesnt the process which we call community require that those who have been around longer suspend their belief that they 'have the facts,' for the sake of the children/ minors? Conversely, is a kids role to act like a grownup 'know it all,' full of dogmatic assertions -- or to ask lots of questions, to keep our elders on their toes?

(I just wanna know, when do we git to go outside and play Corporate Raiders?)

To Bruce's specific point,

{   It has been my observation that
{ groups including both sexes are stable in larger numbers than single-sex
{ groups of either stripe.  Far be it for me to postulate the reasons, but
{ it is an observed fact I will try to employ to my advantage nevertheless.
{ From this observation, I conclude that it may well be counter-productive
{ to create women-only groups such as the "systers" for two reasons. First,
{ that such groups might do well at providing mutual support, but the
{ tendency toward small groups within the larger argues that no large
{ association is needed to accomplish this end.  Second, as the real world
{ such women are hoping to participate in necessarlily includes both sexes
{ -- albeit in unequal proportion -- the communication styles that will tend
{ to develop in such groups will not reflect that real world well, and
{ thereby do a disservice to the very people it purports to help.
I add only that I suspect the communication style that will develop will be one in which any one can play any part -- with no connection at all, in the end, with sex, or age, or pigment, or withies. (Rather like cyberspace, hmm?)


(1) In fact, we do this all the time, shifting 'focus' (logical level) under one rationalization or another and then attempting to concretize -- 'realize' -- it. (See Tooleys.) Theres no problem, except when the concrete 'comes first' -- loses its rationale -- and thus leaves the mental shift with nothing to show for it. The disappearance of expression = the collapse of concept. See Rigidity.
(2) Posted Sat, 30 Jan 1999 to silk-list@arachnis.com as "kmm023 a minority view".

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