Queries - Virtual Worship for White Friends Confronting Racism
Resources for newcomers:
Worship of the Written Word can appear as:
- an inability or refusal to acknowledge information that is shared through stories, embodied knowing, intuition and the wide range of ways that we individually and collectively learn and know
- continued frustration that people and communities don't respond to written communication; blaming people and communities for their failure to respond
Some antidotes can be:
- identify when circumstances require documentation on others' terms and bring transparency to how you respond (legal documents, funder applications, government forms, etc.)
- practice listening; because our culture doesn't value oral traditions or storytelling wisdom, we are out of listening practice or remembering how to hold a spoken word with weight (without having to write it down)
- What is the impact of the worship of the written word on my racial justice work and the work of Quaker meetings I am part of?
- When have I missed or misunderstood something in focusing on the written word?
- How can we grow to better understand and value other forms of knowing?
How does White Supremacy Culture work to limit your access to Spirit?
Either or and the Binary
This characteristic explores our cultural assumption that we can and should reduce the complexity of life and the nuances of our relationships with each other and all living things into either/or, yes or no, right or wrong in ways that reinforce toxic power. There is little or no sense of the possibilities of both/and as we try to simplify complex things, for example believing that poverty is simply the result of lack of education. This characteristic is closely linked to perfectionism because binary thinking makes it difficult to learn from mistakes or accommodate conflict. The binary is used to pit oppressions against each other rather than to recognize the ways in which racism and classism intersect, the ways in which both intersect with heterosexism and agism and other categories of oppression.
· How can we hold the complexity of our communal lives, and to refuse to submit to binary thinking?”
· How is either/or thinking present in our Monthly Meetings?
· How would our Meetings, Quaker culture, and, our perceptions change if we were able to understand truth as both/and?
Qualified is internalized primarily by middle and owning class white people, formally educated, who are taught by the culture that they (people like me who live in these identities) are qualified and duty bound to fix, save, and set straight the world…a Christian ideology that teaches a Christian duty to convert the "heathen," the "savage," the "impure," makes this characteristic particularly violent both psychically and physically in its determination to ignore and/or erase the culture, wisdom, genius, joy of people and communities being "saved" while seizing their land, labor, architecture, music, food, and other material goods to commodify for profit.
The deviousness of this characteristic is how strongly white middle and owning class educated people can internalize and assume their own inherent qualifications to "improve" whatever is in front of them that is "broken" without acknowledging or seeing their role in breaking it.
- In what ways do I experience using qualified as a way to approach problems without acknowledging my role in creating them?
- What do you feel when you think of handing over power/leadership to someone who feels 'unqualified' to you? (Based on that- what could help you and others deal with that feeling when it arises?)
- How/can you discern between internalized white supremacist notions of 'qualified' vs spirit led knowing of who is right for a task?
Sense of Urgency
Our learned cultural habit of applying a sense of urgency to our every-day lives perpetuates power imbalance, disconnects us from our need to breathe and pause and reflect. The irony is that this imposed sense of urgency serves to erase the actual urgency of tackling racial and social injustice. We become disconnected from each other, ourselves, and all living things.
We are called on to hold the volatile and tender contradiction of an underlying urgency about our immediate need for justice which is with us always with the day to day sense of urgency that too often defines our Quaker and community cultures, living with a constant sense that everything is urgent is a recipe for the abuse of power and burnout.
Where do I notice urgency arising for me in my justice work and how do I channel it with thoughtfulness and intention?