Last week we explored taking up space.
This week we’ll explore the ways we use our privilege to discount others (and impose our needs on them).
I was recently facilitating a workshop. Right away, during the introduction, one of the participants indicated that he was aware of his privileges as a white male. Great! I thought. It’s always helpful when people “get it”. But what became clear during the workshop was that he didn’t get it. It showed up in his actions. He took offence to something a woman of colour had said (expressing how they felt about an experience of racism) and suggested a different way they could say it, so he could receive it better.
Who gets to be comfortable?
When challenged about the fact that it’s problematic that we police other people’s self-expression (often called “tone policing”), he became defensive and angry. And then the conversation became about him and his feelings – leaving the woman who had spoken first, about her feelings, in the dust.
Making it about us.
The interesting thing about privilege is that we can easily think it’s all about us and fail to “see” others/other points of view. It’s a result of walking through life with access. What intrigues me the most about privilege is how easy it is to say we get it, when we really don’t – or we wouldn’t be demanding people change their self-expression so we feel better, we’d apologize when bumping into people (or just move out of the way to begin with, not expecting others to move for us), and we’d check ourselves.
Checking ourselves requires awareness. And awareness of privilege requires a close examination of the way we move through the world, what we expect, and how we demand access and recognition.
Food for thought:
Spend some time this week watching how people interact with each other. Who has to apologize and why? Who has to watch their tone, and why? Who is deferring to whom? And then join mark your calendar for 2:30pm EST on November 16th when we’ll talk about it on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/856382748