Puzzling over exclusion

Before George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, we had become aware that some of our crossword puzzles were emphasizing cisgendered, white, elite culture.

We did some reading and found support for this idea that crossword puzzles like The New York Times can foster racial bias, misogyny, and classism. The New York Time’s puzzle workplaces is assessed by some to be a prime example of institutional racism.

We have stopped solving The New York Times crossword and stopped using our USA Today book of puzzles because it, too, had clues that we deemed exclusive based on gender identity, ethnicity, and sexual preference. We felt sad and mistrust solving those puzzles. They did not meet our needs for acceptance, equanimity and play.

Crossword puzzles are the most effective way we have found for getting our internal people to work together. As a result, we may seek crossword puzzles that are more inclusive (they exist) and also free of charge (harder to find). We don’t have a lot of energy or cash flow. If you know of any such puzzles, can you let us know?

Younger Child continues posting that Black Lives Matter. Younger Child continues to lose followers and is undeterred by this. Older Child posted about anti-racism, white privilege, and white fragility. Older Child almost never posts at all.

These young people want to use their voices to end white privilege, to give a voice to historically marginalized people.

We try to teach and practice acceptance. Even those who deny racism and white privilege are people trying to get their needs met. They might not want to admit to being part of a harmful system because it threatens their needs: for autonomy, to nurture, for harmony, for connection.

We will be persistent in trying to end white privilege by listening and learning and supporting.

To those who want all lives to matter, we think that all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.

We are all people. We all have needs for Autonomy, Connection, Meaning, Peace, Physical Well-being, and Play. If we can find ways to meet these needs in other people and ourselves, everyone gets their needs met. Once you care about other people—even people you might think are your “enemies”—in addition to yourself, you can practice Peace for All.

We would propose working together in the spirit of connection and not try to “win” via strategies that promote disconnection.

5 thoughts on “Puzzling over exclusion

  1. Wow, I didn’t know that! My mom does the NYT crossword puzzle. I’ll have to tell her about this.

    One of the articles you linked to had some links to other crossword puzzles: “Last year saw the launch of Inkubator, a subscription service that publishes crosswords constructed by women, and Queer Qrosswords, a charity puzzle pack from LGBTQ creators with LGBTQ themes. Meanwhile, rival puzzles have sprung up with fresher sensibilities. (Slate Plus members have access to the American Values Club puzzle, for one!) The New Yorker launched an excellent weekly puzzle last year, with an unusually diverse roster of contributors and a contemporary vibe that’s both intellectual and zingy.”
    I don’t know if any of those appeal to you! It looks like the Slate Plus subscription is $35/year (I don’t know how many puzzles that would include), and Queer Qrosswords will give you 22 puzzles if you donate $10 to one of the charities they list. Maybe that’s something? I didn’t look into it in depth though, so there’s a chance those numbers may be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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