Last week I was a part of conversation about privilege and racism/sexism/oppression. I was asked about some simple starting points and this is the list that I came up with. I know that it is flawed and limited but it might be a good start.
I would love hear your additions.
I will venture to get this started – the suggestions are going to be provisional at best and will need to be supplemented (heavily) by others.
- Assume that you are definitely part of the problem and only possibly part of the solution.
- Put yourself under the leadership/care of someone or a group that is not like you in race-gender-sexuality. So … if you go to George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland and it is time for you write your Master’s thesis, ask Randy Woodley, Roger Nam or Mary Kate Morse to be your adviser.
- Listen to them. Just listen.
- Resist the temptation to ask questions that have numbers in them. Like don’t ask “how hot does a sweat-lodge get and how many rocks are used?” or “what percentage of people would be X ?” White guys love numbers – it’s a european enlightenment thing I think.
- Listen some more and do not discredit any of it – don’t allow yourself to think ‘that seems over the top’ or ‘it couldn’t have been that bad / blatant’. Don’t do it. You will want to. Don’t.
- Buy books by people that are not like you in a greater percentage than ones by white males. Start with Randy Woodley’s Shalom and the Community of Creation and Mary Kate Morse’s Making Room for Leadership. You will not be sorry.
- and most importantly! – do what they tell you. No… Do what they DO … if you can. If they say ‘Don’t go to that conference’ cancel your plans. Even if you like the topic and you will lose money. If they say ‘This group could use some volunteers’, ask them if that is something you could do. If they tell you that they are doing something next Saturday, ask if that is something you could come to. Cancel the other thing you were going to do. Someone else will probably do that other thing.
- Assume that you are definitely part of the problem and only possibly part of the solution. You will make mistakes. It’s ok – we all do. The problem is so large and so seemingly insurmountable that we can not afford to get dis-couraged or to entertain allusions of grandeur.
- This is gunna take a while. Pace yourself. Embrace your spirituality in a new way – you will need it for the long haul. Don’t chuck it like so many do when they figure out how shitty the world is.
- Listen to the Smiley & West podcast every week.
- Whenever you are in a group do not use your whole percentage of air-time. If you are in a discussion with 3 other people – don’t talk 25% of the time (let alone 50). Use less than your percentage. I’m not saying ‘don’t talk or ask questions’. We don’t need to be silent … just use less than your 25% allotment.
Please let me know any additions or adjustments that you would like to see. -Bo