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Awakening to White



I’ve coined the phrase “awakening to white”. White people need a wakeup call to understand that they participate in a worldview shaped by whiteness and to be aware of this worldview, they need to initiate a process to investigate its origins and understand its implications. This is NOT, however, a process that exists solely in consciousness- it is necessary to modify one’s actions and consequences of one’ social and political, cultural behaviour and activities to align with this awakening.


We all need a wake-up call to change our worldviews. Or, as Jack Mezirow said, a “disorienting dilemma”. Mezirow is famous in the world of transformation. He says a disorienting dilemma is the catalyst for perspective transformation. Dilemmas usually occur when people have experiences that do not fit their expectations or make sense to them and they cannot resolve the situations without some change in their views of the world. Disorienting dilemmas alter our worldview, including the values, beliefs and assumptions that form one’s view of the world.


People of colour and others have criticized the trend that we white people focus on changes in consciousness that exclude acting for equity. It’s no wonder. To make actual and real social change, we are compelled to act out from inclusive perspectives. To rejoin the world in a way that is trust-worthy, we need to demonstrate that we have learned the damage of the effects of Whiteness and white culture and are willing to take some responsibility. Yes, responsibility going forward.


The motivation isn’t guilt. White folks have long talked about their guilt to no end. That is, guilt doesn’t stimulate authentic and aligned action. The alignment I speak of is alignment to one’s values. It’s a core alignment. Alignment between values and actions provides a power and an energy that is authentic. It’s authentic action that is true. And in this truth, lies trustworthiness.

And now we are talking a language that all people can recognize and rely on. Relationships are built on trust and authenticity. Going forward these are the relations we need. To get there, though, .reparation is required, reparation that speaks to the hurt and the betrayed, reparation that must be addressed in the mediation of relations.


Awakening to white requires a perspective shift. In research I did for my dissertation (Overcoming Resistances to Transformation of Consciousness: An Integral Journey Towards Inclusion) I identified competencies and capacities to guide perspective shifts of worldviews. I’ll be looking at these qualities and abilities in the the upcoming weeks. Or, if you can’t wait, contact me at margot@margothovey.com.

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© 2019 by Margot Hovey, PhD