Systematic racism in intentional living

Is anyone else visiting, calling, engaging with communities with the hope of finding a more accepting and eco-friendly home … and finding … racism?
I am mixed, and usually pass as white. Up until about 6mos ago I was in a long term relationship with a black trans person, so we were looking at opportunities together. (We split up for unrelated reasons and still have a chill friendship.) We often found that if it wasn’t predominately white and made of “I don’t see color” sentiments (problematic and I don’t feel like explaining it right this moment why.) - we found instead it was just plain inaccessible.

Inaccessibility has been shown statistically to contribute to systematic racism. If someone’s grandparents were exploited for slave labor and didn’t get to build wealth - they aren’t likely to have the money for a down payment on a subdivision. This creates a predominately priviledged population unlikely to sympathize with the struggle of first generation wealth builders.

Are there any other mixed/POC people meeting the same struggle I am?

I also find that my Latine/Latinx culture is used as a “diversity win” and it feels patronizing. I’m treated like a monolith. For example I am often asked about Dia De Los Muertos, even though Puerto Ricans don’t even celebrate that holiday! “Can you plan a Dia De Los Muertos party for us to share your culture? Can you speak on being an immigrant? Wow! Your english is very good!” My Mother was an immigrant, I am not! aLsO PR IS TECHNICALLY A PART OF THE USA? Just because I am bilingual, doesn’t mean I want to be voluntold to be a translator or representative face.

Its not just intentional communities I find this in - but “community” focused groups as a whole. I am recruited not because I am wanted - but because I add variety.

I’m not a jar of spice! Please stop treating myself and my friends like we’re just charity cases or picturesque representatives.

Sorry if this came across as ranty - but I’m tired. Ultimately I didn’t want to have to create a whole new project but I ran into this issue years ago and realized it was neccessary.

Are there even any other afro-latinas like myself here? Am I the only one?

Please give me hope that this movement can be something different for POC.

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Hi Kyra,

I’m so sorry you’ve experienced that racism and unfortunately it is a common experience for non-white communitarians. I work with communities on becoming more diverse and I tell them not to do the exact things they’ve done to you! Anyway it can be a struggle to find the right community and I don’t have specific ones to direct you to, but I will encourage you to join the BIPOC Intentional Community Council. We are all BIPOC–identified seeking to live in community. We have members all over the world with various experience in communities. We have a biweekly support call and funding available to give out. Let me know if you want to connect and talk more. www.bipocicc.org

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Hi Kyra may all be well. I’m building a City for sovereign high vibrational people who is ready to be done with the system and away from low vibrational energy. If you are interested, maybe we can connect for more information.

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Why would my comment be flagged? Thanks for restoring it, but who finds a problem with what I’m offering to humanity?

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Is anyone else visiting, calling, engaging with communities with the hope of finding a more accepting and eco-friendly home … and finding … racism?

Can only speak from my (perceived as white, benefiting from white privilege) experience. But my visits to ICs can speak to this issue. There are culture clashes between racist “norms” and those very much trying to end the same (and those who identify as antiracists).

It seems based on BIPOC I’ve lived with that the work of bridging these cultures may be far too much to take on within an IC. (EDIT: please note this is only my experience with BIPOC friends who have shared this, and it’s hopefully quite obvious I am not aiming to speak for any BIPOC. I’d love to hear that it’s actually easy for many people!). So far I personally have seen it end with antiracists leaving the community or antiracists running the community. The latter is a “win” we see too little of. When it doesn’t “end” per se, those are other stories about how they found integration that are a bit too personal for me to post on a public forum. I hope BIPOC will feel comfortable posting or reaching out to you.

As for the most IC types I’ve had access to, it’s either predominantly white or the “middle ground” of racists, antiracists, BIPOC, white (and also fascists, communists, sexually exclusive, sexually inclusive and other culture polarities) all living together ― because that is the very real reality of a microcosm of the traumatized Turtle Island inhabitants of today. It is quite precarious, triggering and results in frequent turn over as various norms shift into dominance within the IC.

In the Twin Cities for example, our community was coached by IC organizers that many BIPOC found the Minnesota communities to be quite uncomfortable and the “diversity win” tokenism you speak of common as well. We were told that BIPOC wished to share with white communities that the predominant “community focused groups as a whole” as you mention indeed have a poor understanding of community; and it was so alienating to be a part of them they longed for more BIPOC to be around. The reason this was difficult to share with white communities (according to discussions members of my community experienced from a white person studying this phenomenon specifically) seemed to be a combination of the usual white fragility, what-about-isms and so forth, but also a lack of dedication within white communities to basically understand and end racist practices, as well as unwillingness to modify whiteframe world view to accommodate truth.

That last one is a doozy. Truth itself is very threatening to whiteframe. It means owning up to behaviors, it means accountability, it means healing trauma and a variety of other activities we traumatized Euros have failed at while blowing trauma all over the rest of the world. A couple antiracist resources I found useful for “bridge work” include: Resmaa Menakem (author of “My Grandmother’s Hands”) and the documentary films of Sheldon Wolfchild (director of “Doctrine of Discovery”).

The times that I experienced being “recruited” are rare, but they were in predominantly white communities or anarchist communities who probably viewed me as a “safe” member.

There is probably a reason many IC ask for some form of unity like predominantly BIPOC, predominantly a major religion and so on.

I am excited to hear that you are creating a whole new project, because that seems to be the most happy and least stressful way. Of course, it would be great to live the Dream, but (EDIT: it requires a lot of work and primarily by people accustomed to not working on those issues. It has gotten easier for me in the 10 years of my community experience to bring up these issues, but it’s slow, and yeah … I recognize doesn’t speak to any actual change for POC). Sorry for all your trouble, and I really hope that your projects will be a huge success. I am sure you will succeed and find/organize your group(s) because in my experience you are certainly not alone in sharing these unfortunately common sentiments. Your presence and your rant do help people understand. I don’t think you need to apologize. Thank you for sharing your experience.

I have only met maybe two who vocally welcomed the identity of Afro-Latin[a/x] in the IC circles I’ve visited, and I will let them know about your project. I hope many more people whom you want to live with will read about and support your project.

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Kyra, thank you so much for this post!

100% yes. I think about this all the time, in the context of the United States as whole and our “utopian,” usually-still-pretty-racist intentional communities. I’m white, I want white supremacy to die a fast death, and I feel tangled in the web spun by capitalism and racism. I have visited a few large communities, and I’m very fond of them, but at least when I visited in 2016, they had a lot more work to do on racism and were not undertaking that work with alacrity. It may have changed somewhat since then but all the communities I’m thinking of are still vastly white – which is partly due to location, partly history, but also partly because of ongoing harm and lack of accountability. I also lived at an urban community for a while that was trying really hard not to be racist, but was still pretty racist, since we could mostly only seem to attract other white people. My own community I’m helping start is also inaccessible to most people due to the absolutely usurious cost of the real estate we’re buying! And that disproportionately bars BIPOC people from joining, so we can’t seem to escape the bear trap either. And the tokenization you’re talking about is such a huge problem as well. As communities, and as white communitarians with privilege, we need to do better. I am trying to figure out if my small community can adjust cost share based on race as well as income without violating fair housing laws, but, uh, probably not. Adjusting based on income alone is one way to mitigate the issue a little bit since BIPOC households and individuals are so disproportionately oppressed into poverty, and I also think the group equity structure helps equalize access to land security if the cost share is low enough, even though it also doesn’t allow for the accumulation of real estate wealth like traditional homeownership does. Advocating for unionization in my workplace is another way I try to be supportive since that will improve working conditions for all of us who work there and better standardize pay to help mitigate bias. Plus, I’m working to learn from my mistakes and unlearn my own biases, and learn more every day. For example, I didn’t know Puerto Ricans don’t celebrate Dia De Los Muertos. Which is one reason #ownvoices and similar campaigns are so important, and also LISTENING TO PEOPLE instead of talking first. I hope to be part of the solution but am still part of the problem as well – I present these ideas as conversation starters aimed at other white people, though I myself still have a long way to go. I also think it’s a good idea to have discussion groups on anti-racist books that are run by white people and intended for white people (because it’s Work to run these groups and educate and that should not all fall on people of color) while of course allowing BIPOC who would like to come, although I also see cons to this idea and would be curious what people think of it.

I really appreciate you bringing your experience and insight to this forum and starting the conversation on this thread.

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Hi Kyra,

Yes, it is pretty exhausting. And as a mixed, also Afro-Latina, but very light-skinned although not white passing individual, I am reflecting more and more about tokenization in white spaces.

Please check out the BIPOC ICC Google Group as Crystal suggested to find some BIPOC-founded spaces. I find that BIPOC-founded and led ICs and community projects are a better suit for me personally to avoid these kind of triggers and retraumatization rather than white-led or founded projects. My current journey in BIPOC spaces involves my being more conscious of the way colorism, citizenship status, and other elements contribute to power dynamics in BIPOC spaces.

Also lol at them asking you to do Dia de los Muertos. Madness.

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I enjoyed reading your intelligent, honest, thoughtful response. Thank you for your response. :heartbeat:

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