On Being White

Hosted by Sue Guttenstein.

I am offering a couple of FREE conversations about “being white” in the next while as a start on how to explore this issue. I want to create safe, open spaces for us to be honest with ourselves and each other, spaces free of judgments and full of courage.

Part 1: Thursday July 9 from 7-8:30pm

Part 2: Thursday July 16 from 7-8:30pm

One of the differences between being a white person and a racialized person is that as white people we can put the topic down at the end of the day. We can let it go or look away and pick it up again when we feel like it.  Not so if you are a racialized or indigenous person in North America.

The question I cannot put down is “should our value and our place in the world, the opportunities we have, our ability to feed ourselves and our children, the possibility of being safe and healthy be determined by the colour of our skin or whether or not those in power (literally or by inference us) feel we deserve it.”  I know that the answer is no, it should not be. But the facts are that all of this is more influenced by skin colour and indigenous heritage than we easily admit, whether we like it or not.  And the facts are that the systems we whites create and administer are unjust – treating people differently based not on facts, but on prejudices, on falsely held, often unconscious, beliefs.

Each and every one of us is in this story whether we admit it or not.  I don’t know why this reality is landing so much more deeply in me now, but it is.  I cannot put it down.

Part of what we are encouraged to do now as whites is to listen – to participate by listening, not by knowing. As a 5, I know how important it is to let go of “knowing.”  But I also know that listening is not as straight forward as it sounds – we need to listen, yes … but with an open heart and that is not at all simple.  We need to feel the truths in our bodies and our hearts.  We need to be truly present.  And we need to surrender knowing what to do and taking over the answering.  We need to be willing to follow.

We also need to know who we are in this by looking more deeply into ourselves. Part of what I love about the Enneagram is that it invites us into self-reflection.  It invites us to be honest about what we believe and about why we do what we do.  And to be non-judgmental about it all, so that we can work away at being more open and less defended.

In this moment, all the work we have been doing on being honest with ourselves is a good foundation for broadening the focus to include issues of race and indigeneity.  Can we reflect together on how we participate, knowingly or not, intentionally or not?  (This doesn’t mean we do not have hardship in our lives – it is that the hardship is not determined by the colour of our skin or our connection to native heritage.)

  • Doing this can make one nervous – what will I see, who am I really?
  • I think well of myself, but is that because I choose not to see things that are distressingly true about me?
  • Can I see them and still love myself?
  • What will it ask of me and will I be willing to do it?

These are hard questions to face and yet I believe, while they are always there, now is an opportune time to ask them together.

If you want to participate, register now (there is no fee).

If you want to participate but the times don’t work, please let us know.