Needing to Talk about Whiteness
This past Sunday, as I’ve done for the last 3 months, I hosted the Awakening to Whiteness book club meeting at our church.
I’ve noticed that the first time that people come to this colloquy especially formed to discuss consciousness around being White, they have a distinct need to talk about their realization of being White – the first time or at least formative experiences that made them consider that they were White. They need to share this with others. The sharing is significant. This is something I’ll be sure to ask for feedback on at the end of the book club. The sense I have is that by speaking the stories out loud to others it validates their journey towards an awakening.
Such a journey needs a map. The first steps require bravery and courage. For some it seems that talking about Whiteness is unseemly and they fear upsetting others or instigating heated discussions or conflict (heaven forbid). What has become evident is that sharing creates a connection between people and that responses are not likely to be judgmental but instead encourage pursuit of the line of inquiry. Clearly, this journey is one of inquiry.
As the median age of this group is 70, people have much life to consider before they have their first conversation about Whiteness. They are asking themselves, “What took me so long to get here? What influences formed me so that it took until now to consider the implications of race.” One participant said: “I didn’t think I needed to consider the influences of my prejudices because I have a bi-racial grandchild. But, in fact that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her.”
She, and others there gathered were stunned by her shared realization that White is a race! And further, that we share in the characteristics of this race, one of which is an unexamined assumption about its very existence and influence on our day-to-day lives.
I am present for the examination of the journey and look forward to guiding others along the voyage. The implications are significant. If we can understand the implications of Whiteness in our daily interactions – in our concern and caring for each other, we can legitimate this discussion with others and reduce the negative implications and impacts of race in the work place, in the sports stadium, and at the shopping mall.
If you want to join me on this journey contact me: