Building diversity awareness

Building diversity awareness

24 February 2021 Marjatta van Boeschoten 3804 views

The Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain (ASinGB) is committed to promoting diversity.

Since the killing of George Floyd in 2020 and the consequent rapid expansion of the Black Lives Matter movement, the issue of equality and diversity has received heightened attention and support in many countries around the world.

It is widely acknowledged in Great Britain that racism is an unresolved blight on the country as a whole, with devastating and far-reaching consequences for individual lives. Now, many corporations, university heads and leading politicians have supported the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement. As our colonial history has been re-examined, statues commemorating those who profited from the exploitation of black people have been pulled down. The current government however appears to consider racism a minor issue despite a raft of statistics that indicate numerous areas of inequality, including British black people being four times more likely to die from COVID 19, and up to 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police.

Different demographic

London has the largest non-white population of any European city and is the most linguistically diverse city in the world. But on entering Rudolf Steiner House, the home of the Anthroposophical Society, the demographic is radically different. The majority of members are both white and elderly and, whilst the genders are reasonably well balanced, it has taken nearly 90 years to have a woman as general secretary. The current ASinGB Council fully acknowledges that, as a Society that earnestly aims to be open, contemporary, diverse and responsive to all seekers of the spirit, significant changes are important and urgent.

Already before the death of George Floyd the Council had resolved to take positive action to mitigate the continuous stream of accusations of racism against Rudolf Steiner. Whatever Rudolf Steiner said 100 years ago is what it is. Now we can strive as best we can to model and uphold the high humanitarian standards that anthroposophy and our times demand. The Black Lives Matter movement and the accusations on racism have given us an extra impetus to do this.

Diversity training

The Council has resolved to take several initiatives (some sadly postponed due to COVID), including diversity training for Council members and the publication of a Diversity Statement for our websites. These are only the first formal steps; much will depend on building real human connections beyond the current demographic of people drawn to anthroposophy or its practical initiatives. We wish to give support and encouragement to anthroposophical institutions seeking to raise their awareness and review their practices. We are currently recruiting a cultural director who will initiate and oversee many of our events and we sincerely aspire to generate an increasingly diverse participation in all we do. We acknowledge that it takes time to translate ideals into realities, but the ASinGB Council is committed to ensuring that change will happen.

I conclude this brief report with Rudolf Steiner’s words spoken in London in May 1913 (GA 152): “Allow me to greet you in the warmest way with that deep inner feeling of unity that belongs to Anthroposophy, and in which all people on earth can unite without distinction of race, colour or any such thing.”

Web: Anthroposophy in Great Britain