Waking Up to My White Privilege
photo credit Patricia Peña
I do not know the exact ingredients needed for an awakening I just know when I wake up, a fire lights in me to learn all I can about something and to take action. Once my psyche locks onto something I can become almost desperate to act, obsessive, practically unhinged in my quest to find out more, and with a desire to press others to follow suit. This is where I have to be careful now. Sadly, I’m in totally uncharted territory and I want to be sensitive and do my best not to make too many mistakes. Although I’m sure some will be made.
That said, I feel I need to do some serious self-examination. I have of course heard of white privilege, but to be honest, until now, I never really gave it much thought. What I’m now realizing is that I am definitely a beneficiary of white privilege, in too many ways to count (although I’m making a list of the ways in my journal). And the simple act of denial, the ability (e.g. privilege) to not have to think about it, is in fact racism. That oblivion allows an unjust, systemic white supremacy to flourish unchecked.
I now see that one of the ways I benefit from white privilege is that I have the choice to remove myself from the conversation. Admittedly I've steered clear of politics, not wanting to expose myself to ‘negative energy’. I have never had to have difficult conversations around race or racial injustice. As a privileged white woman that has been easy to avoid. I used to say that the most I could do was to do my work as a spiritual teacher and to shine my light into the world as far and wide as I can. I am now seeing, oh so clearly, what total bullshit that is.
Yes, yes being kind, shining light and spreading love are important ingredients, but that does not bring about any kind of REAL change, if it did the world would be a much nicer place for everyone already. Change is hard, change is painful, change requires one to get uncomfortable, it’s messy, and it takes commitment over the long haul.
So, how do I, we, privileged white women, begin to take responsibility for our part in a corrupt system? How do we begin to help dismantle it? I certainly do not have the answers but I’m ready to get uncomfortable and messy, even though the thought of that really does scare the shit out of me! If I’m being totally honest, in a fight or flight situation my instinct is to flee. And yet I know that I’m tough, that I have grit, so I’m holding on to that. I want to truly show up for BIPOC. I want to take responsibility for my part in a corrupt system and do everything I can to dismantle it.
I am open to suggestions. I am available to have hard conversations. I am ready to learn and to be guided. I am also sending out as much love and light as I can.
If anyone wants to join me in working through Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, I would love the company.