Curious about Whiteness?
I’m settling in to my home office after a winter break over the Christmas holidays. That tells you a couple of things about me. Somewhere in my past or present, Christianity has influenced me. Also, I am privileged enough to take a suspended break without income. And finally, I live in a home large enough to include a home office.
All of these are characteristics of privilege and, more particularly, many privileged White people.
I have made the commitment this year to create an online course that explores Whiteness, particularly as it impacts social and work-oriented settings. Over the past decade “Whiteness Studies” has emerged into Academia. There is a vibrant discussion that has started, not so much in Corporate and Mainstream settings, though I’d like to bridge this gap.
Many of us spend hours each day making a living surrounded by lots of people. For decades in many cities around the world white people were dominant in many ways but now are moving to the margins. Still, the presence of Whiteness is notable. I was at a conference in the Fall and was moved by the story of one man’s experience. He said that it was a struggle for many white men to even imagine that race was one of his identities. He said that when asked, he would say “of course I don’t have a race. I’m not white. I am Scottish, Irish and British.” Nationalities, then, were ways of identification that he was aware of and comfortable with.
How is it that he and many white people aren’t aware of being white? There are times being white feels to many as innocuous as the snow on my balcony. Living in Montreal, we see it throughout the winter and stop actually recognizing it after the first snowfall.
Clearly, lots of us aren’t even used to talking about it. When we do, it is most often because some person of colour has brought it up. Well guess what? Many folks who are non-white are sick of playing that role. They are tired of being asked to take responsibility for white people’s learning.
This course will address this need, or at least it will lead participants along the journey of opening, learning and discovery of a more inclusive We.
I’ll be writing about this process over the next few months. I’d like the conversation to be generative, that is, to inspire us to talk about it as we find our way forward and take ownership of the impact we have in our communities, in our families, in our workplaces and in our homelands.
It helps to have a meditation practice while you are engaged in this type of learning and self-knowing. If you are curious about meditating, check out my online course that will support in establish your practice: