Multicultural Feminism via The Attleboro Council of Human Rights

By Stacey Beshers

Introduction

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I have chosen to focus on an organization within my hometown – The Attleboro Council on Human Rights. I am proud to live in a city that takes human rights so seriously, making sure that no one – regardless of gender, social class, or ethnicity - is discriminated against; and that also actively works to celebrate the great diversity of our community.

Overview of my chosen organization


The Attleboro Council on Human Rights has the following mission statement

“The Attleboro Council on Human Rights (ACHR) was established within the municipal government in 1994. The ACHR, under the general supervision and control of the Mayor, works to promote mutual respect and understanding among individuals and groups in the city by improving the quality of public discourse and eliminating unlawful discrimination. The ACHR consults with departments, boards, and commissions of the city, and other organizations within the city, which have interest in and responsibility for eliminating discrimination and protecting the exercise of civil and human rights.” (City of Attleboro)

The organization is there for the community and open to the public. Its board is selected to be diverse in many ways.

“We welcome all members of the community to become involved by attending one of our meetings or contacting us with your thoughts and concerns.

The ACHR is comprised of a maximum of nine members appointed by the Major, subject to confirmation by the Municipal Council. Members must be residents of the City of Attleboro. Members are selected to provide a culturally, economically, and professionally diverse representation. Members serve on staggered three-year terms.” (City of Attleboro)

One of the things that made me settle upon The Attleboro Council on Human Rights was when going over their listed responsibilities, they matched up so amazingly with the ideals of multicultural feminism.

What is Multicultural Feminism?


“Multiracial/multiethnic feminism creates a politics that interweaves gender with the continuum of dominance and subordination derived from other social statuses. It argues that feminist political activism can no longer be based on gender but must consider racial identifications, ethnicity, and social class as well. The battle for justice and recognition includes men, but he perspectives, politics, and cultural contributions of women of diverse racial ethnic groups take precedence.” (Lorber 194)

Let's compare the list of stated goals for The Attleboro Council on Human Rights vs Multicultural Feminism as found in the Blackboard Module by Professor Kristen McHenry


Goals of Attleboro Council of Human Rights
Goals of Multicultural Feminism
Promote understanding of diverse cultures through education. Increase community awareness of possible human rights violations
  • Establish own definitions for beauty, behavior, family, etc. based on racial and ethnic group beliefs and values in contrast to what the dominant group says the standards are
  • Thinks of society as having a plurality of cultural groups—celebrate difference
  • Promote diversity as a core principle
Promote good will and minimize or eliminate discrimination through public
and community programs.
  • Celebrate women’s culture and art: quilting, dances, folk music, food, embroidery, oral tradition
  • Views America as a “salad bowl” or “quilt” versus “melting pot”
Enlist the cooperation of public and private racial, religious, ethnic, civic,
fraternal, and benevolent agencies in eliminating unlawful discrimination by
cultivating an atmosphere of mutual understanding and harmonious intergroup
relations.
  • Works to subvert the dominant values and standards to give value and credit to own cultural ideologies and behaviors
  • Build coalitions between minority groups and women of color nationally and globally
  • Work to understand how race is power system that interacts with other social constructs (age, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, etc.)
Offer a public forum for any person or group with a perceived human rights
grievance, and serve as a source of support and guidance.
  • Work for all cultural groups, regardless of race and ethnicity, to be treated equally
  • Work to create tolerance and acceptance of difference
  • Work to create foundation and identity for ethnic and racial groups
Make recommendations to the Mayor, Municipal Council, and School
Committee regarding issues and actions that affect human rights in our community.
  • Examines the social construction of different groups and where they are situated in our culture—how much power do they have or not have and why?
  • Relies upon tools of racial, ethnic, and class analysis

As you can see in the chart I created, I feel that the goals of the Attleboro Council of Human Rights works hand in hand with the ideals of multicultural feminism- I think it is entirely possible that these principles were taken into consideration when the group was established - the idea of women and ethnic rights being basic human rights - rights that apply to ALL.

Practicing What we Preach


The Attleboro Council of Human Rights holds monthly meetings that all are invited to attend. They also present programs to celebrate diversity and promote understanding. The most recent I could find took place in October of 2011 and was found in this blurb in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle

ATTLEBORO - The Second Congregational Church and the Attleboro Council on Human Rights will host a community reading of Frederick Douglass' 1852 speech "The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro" at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The reading, to be held at the church, will be followed by a discussion led by Wheaton College professor Sam Coale, and refreshments will be served.

Organizers say the program is intended to take up the challenge by President Barack Obama at a speech in Philadelphia to remember the struggle for racial equality. On July 5, 1852 Douglass, a former slave and leading abolitionist, addressed a crowd in Rochester, N.Y. commemorating the Declaration of Independence.

"Fellow citizens," he said, "why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?"

The Human Rights Council , Attleboro Historical Commission, the Attleboro Historic Preservation Society, the Attleboro Public Library and the Martin Luther King Committee are joining with state historical and educational institutions in a statewide effort recalling Douglass' speech. The full text of the speech as well as accompanying materials are available at the Mass Humanities web site, www.masshumanities.org " (Foster)

This is but one example. They have also in recent years held programs on

Becoming American – the Latino Experience: Panel discussion based on the book Enrique’s Journey.

Becoming American – the Latino Experience: Movie and Discussion - Under the Same Moon

Breaking Bread, Sharing Stories of Coming to America
http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2010/10/24/news/8143271.txt
(Attleboro)


By celebrating diversity and by being a place that those who feel their rights have been violated can turn to, by holding programs to educate the public about the amazing men and women in their city, the Attleboro Council on Human Rights works to promote the ideals of Multicultural Feminism. It is my hope that in future years, as Attleboro continues to grow as a city and community, that the Council on Human Rights will continue to put forth these programs, continue to foster the good will of all of it's citizens, and continue to make the city of Attleboro a better place to live

Works Cited

"The Attleboro Council on Human Rights." City of Attleboro. City of Attleboro, n.d. Web. 27 Jul 2012. <http://www.cityofattleboro.us/pdf/acohr.pdf>.

Foster, Rick. "Learn About Fredrick Douglass' Speech." Sun Chronicle [Attleboro] 3 10 2011, n. pag. Web. 27 Jul. 2012. <http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=NewsBank&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=13A2D4850B5E89A8&p_docnum=3&p_queryname=3>.

Lorber, Judith. Gender Inequality; Feminist Theories and Politics. 4th. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010. 194. Print.