Episode 287: White Supremacy Culture – “What We Learned.”

What does it mean to think about white supremacy culture? I mean, to REALLY think about it. What happens when you think about it? Even just hearing the words “white supremacy culture”, or listen to ideas about it, how does it impact your body or your urges? What emotions do you become aware of?

So as a white guy, when I have these conversations, I might notice my stomach tighten at times, perhaps want a break or maybe even walk away or turn off the recording. I remember sitting in conversations like these before and having thoughts like, “That isn’t exactly correct” or “I wonder if they have their facts straight?” I also have felt defensive at times, or really, really sad. These are my experiences as a white person, and I’ve come to expect them to show up still, even though I have been on this antiracism journey for a while now. Now when I see these reactions show up, more otfen I can tell myself that they won’t last forever, and see what I can learn about the reason I’m having these strong reactions. I imagine that other people who are not white may have their own set of thoughts, urges and emotions that may have some overlap with mine, and some of which may be very different.

So what I’m saying is that this is normal to have these kinds of experiences in response to a hard topic like thinking about white supremacy. But what do you do next? What will make it better or worse? Will you stay or will you go? What will help you to grow more, to work on your biases, or help you understand the shaping influence white supremacy culture has had on us all?

So today our multiracial team of antiracism educators and friends will reflect on what it has been like for each of us as we’ve discussed the traits of white supremacy culture. This is the last episode in the series, and for reference, we are using the online document White Supremacy Culture – Still Here, a link to which is found in the show notes for this episode.

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 286: White Supremacy Culture – “Right to Comfort.”

I know many people in my city who tell me they will intentionally change their commute to work to “avoid sketchy neighborhoods”… often times lengthening their commute in order to do so. Other people who live outside the city in the surrounding bedroom communities will tell me that they may not want to drive into the city because “it might not be safe.” Most of these people have never had a traumatic experience either in the city, or in certain neighborhoods, but nevertheless hold to these beliefs. When asked, “What do you think makes a neighborhood sketchy?” or “What concerns you about the city?”, many people talk about the fact that some of the locations in the city “make them uncomfortable.” When asked what kinds of people live in the areas where they “feel uncomfortable”, there often is a racial characteristic to places they feel most uncomfortable in. This is quickly followed by statements like, “But I’m not racist.” or “It isn’t race, it’s poverty that makes me uncomfortable.” There is a deep discomfort with reminders of racial inequity, so much so that we avoid neighborhoods, cities and even conversations about it. This is one of the most deeply entrenched aspects of white supremacy culture: the right to comfort.

So today we are going to talk about the right to comfort, and its play cousins fear of open conflict and power hoarding – traits that are endemic to white supremacy culture. We are using the online document White Supremacy Culture – Still Here, a link to which is found in the show notes for this episode.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 285: White Supremacy Culture – “Defensiveness and Denial.”

Are you the kind of person who is open to being wrong? Perhaps you didn’t have all your facts straight, or perhaps there was information you didn’t have at the time you made your decision. What do you do when you find out there were other things to consider? A pastor once told me this observation that he made about leaders. He said, “You can’t tell much about a leader when they get things right. Watch the leader when they get it wrong. A great leader is someone who responds well when they get things wrong.” And the thing is every leader, and every person will, at some time, get it wrong. Who are each of us in these moments?

But it is more than who each of us are as individuals when we hear things, think things, say things or do things. What are we like collectively as groups of people when we are confronted with oversights, inhumanity, or injustice that we discover. Do we get angry at the messenger, or do we consider the message? For myself as a white person, what do we as white people tend to do when we hear about the harmful things we as white people collectively do?

So today we are going to talk about the reactions of defensiveness and denial that are endemic to white supremacy culture, particularly when presented with stories and statistics about harm to other racial groups. We are using the online document White Supremacy Culture – Still Here, a link to which is found in the show notes for this episode.
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 284: White Supremacy Culture – “Individualism.”

Who are you like? For many of us as white people, we know we are white, but we don’t like the idea that non-white people see us as a group with some predictable characteristics. We often talk about our individual characteristics as more defining of who we are. For example, we may identify more with diversity characteristics as members of a political party, whether we belong or don’t belong to a religious group, our gender, or sexual orientation. And these things do make people different from one another. But we go further as white people. We may believe that we are smarter, have more leadership skills, or that we “know what works better.” As white people, we tend to think of ourselves by the things we think make us unique – in some ways unique from a comparison group of people who are also white.

In general – and I’d say this is definitely true for myself – we as white people have difficulty perceiving how our group characteristics – as white people – set us apart from people of other racial or cultural groups. For instance, we may think that the way we handle conflict by being direct about what we think and feel is the correct way that all people should handle conflict. We may point to experts, most of whom are also white, in fields like psychology or counselling who agree with us, and use this to further bolster our views that our white way of handling conflict is the best way. This probably works pretty well in groups of white people who more or less value these traits, but we may not even know of other completely functional ways of handling conflict used by other diverse cultures around the world because we as white people rarely find ourselves in situations where our cultural values are not adhered to in the places we live. The systems we as white people developed in colonization, create environments where now whiteness and white values are privileged, and other people and ways of living are given a lower value or even punished.

So today we are going to talk about individualism, one of the characteristic of white supremacy culture. We are using the online document by the same name, a link to which is found in the show notes for this episode.
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.
CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 283: An Antioch Podcast Encore: White Supremacy Culture – “Perfectionism.”

What makes you feel good about yourself? I remember how much I used to dread performance evaluations. I remember so often feeling anxious, my palms would sweat, I’d feel restless, and have this sick feeling in my stomach in the hour before I’d have my yearly performance review. I hated it. It like I was always going to be evaluated based on some invisible criteria of someone who may not actually know what I did all day. There were times when negative writeups would end up in my file. I always wondered if there was an actual file. Regardless, the threat that my performance reviews would taint me was something that often kept me feeling tense at work.

But I wasn’t always the person being evaluated. Later in life I became a person who evaluated others. One of these times was when I was working as an educator. During that period I would give weekly evaluations to people who were trying to learn how to do something difficult for the very first time. It was not uncommon for people to cry or feel sick because of the stress. I remember people deciding to quit or drop out, often people who were very talented, and I would try to take those people aside and tell them what I saw in them and how it is normal to experience strong emotions and have doubts on the way to learning how to do difficult things.

The thing I was trying to convey to them is that they were not bad for being imperfect, feeling embarrassment or running out of ideas. In fact, it was quite the opposite – this is what it feels like to learn something difficult. In fact, if they stuck with it, they likely would discover novel ways to overcome the problems they were running into. I recall one of these tearful conversations once with a student who thought about dropping out of their program because they were struggling in my class. After the conversation they decided to stay in the program, passed the class, and eventually went on to earn a PhD in the same field where they now are doing cutting edge research.
Perfectionism smothers and kills so much passion in life. I have heard it said, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” and that might be the perfect way to think about the standards we so often hold ourselves to.

Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about perfectionism this week as one of the characteristics of white supremacy culture – characteristics born out of our colonial past that divide us from one another and even ourselves.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 282: An Antioch Podcast Encore: White Supremacy Culture – “Fear of Disconnection.”

What makes you afraid? A common thing that people across cultures run into is having a fear of unfamiliar foods. New flavors, textures, or smells can create strong responses – sometimes embarrassingly strong responses. However, we tend to think that the food “we” like is … “normal.” I remember discovering that some of my non-American friends from overseas found making macaroni and cheese from a box to be disgusting, when it was a childhood favorite food of mine. Hearing them describe to me what they found disturbing about mac and cheese though made me see their point. They said, “I can’t believe that you eat food coated in rehydrated powdered cheese that only sticks to the pasta because you don’t rinse off the starch water.” After hearing how they saw one of my favorite foods actually made ME lose my appetite a little.

White Supremacy Culture in many ways is like mac and cheese – so common, and yet unexamined for what may not be appealing. But in this way it is also like mac and cheese – if you only eat that, you miss out on the nutrition found in other culture’s foods. White Supremacy Culture is in many ways the air we breathe in cultures where white values are normative. These values are found in the school system, the legal system, many religious denominations and norms for conducting business in “professional settings” among others. This way of doing what works to keep white majority people comfortable is the topic our multiracial team of Christian antiracism educators and friends are going to explore together in this series we are calling “White Supremacy Culture.” It is based on the online document by the same name, a link to which is found in the show notes for this episode. Today’s episode is titled “Fear of Disconnection.”

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 281: White Supremacy Culture – “Worship of the Written Word.”

Have you ever had the thought that because someone doesn’t express themselves with proper grammar, that what they have to say is somehow less? Perhaps we don’t even think about the point the individual is making because they don’t express it according to the grammatical values we hold. Perhaps we never consider how these grammar rules historically came from groups of people with and agenda to exclude people from circles of power… and yet here we are doing the same thing. Judging or dismissing information based just on the way someone speaks or writes. Or have you ever noticed that to “prove” something in academic or legal writing that the way you justify the validity of what you are saying is to cite sources? What if your sources were oral sources, historical artifacts, or patterns of life that can be best understood through experience like art or dance? In western culture, which is deeply shaped by white supremacy, we place more value on documents or other things that are written down which use academic language and follow standard grammatical structures. We tend not to value to the same degree oral stories, experiential knowledge, or people or processes which are not documented or undocumented. White supremacy culture deeply values written words.

Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about this today in this episode we are calling “Worship of the Written Word.” We will be using the document White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, a link to which is in the show notes for this episode.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 280: White Supremacy Culture – “This Stresses Me Out!”

We have been talking the past few episodes about aspects of White Supremacy Culture, and noticed … well … a lot of these characteristics cause us stress. Its true, the list of white supremacy culture characteristics in many ways is a list of stressors that impact so many of us – trying to be perfect, trying to be enough, trying to be objective or logical striving to present ourselves as qualified. The list goes on and on. So we decided today to take a moment to talk about how to cope with the stress of White Supremacy Culture.

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 279: White Supremacy Culture – “Progress! Bigger! More!”

“But if we do that, we will lose people!”
Have you heard these words before in a meeting? Someone proposes an idea that is in keeping with the mission or values of an organization, and the idea is not shot down on its merits, but rather because there is a fear that it will turn off people with resources who may not have bought into the core mission. Something happens when institutions begin caring about keeping those who resource the institution comfortable more than the welfare of the people the institution was initially established to serve.

It is a simple story to say that success is countable – more money, more people, more staff. But what does success feel like? I remember asking a group of people to think about an adult who wasn’t a parent who impacted their life. I’ve done this experiment many times. People come up with teachers, mentors, youth leaders, care-givers, pastors, counselors, coaches, friends, and even bosses or supervisors – and here’s the thing: they remember them by name. Usually they say things like, “They really saw me”, “The helped me when I was struggling” “They showed me how to believe in myself” or “They didn’t abandon me when I was down.” These individuals often provided these life-impacting moments when it wasn’t something they were paid for, or the wages they got for doing this were far below the wages of other professionals. These decidedly impactful deeds change the direction of countless lives – but are rarely counted as markers of success in many places. The idea that success is measurable is one of those insidious qualities of white supremacy culture.

Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about this today in this episode we are calling “Progress! Bigger! More!”.” We will be using the document White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, a link to which is in the show notes for this episode.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 278: White Supremacy Culture – “Either/Or – There Is No Between”

Have you ever been the victim of a lost story? Viola Davis tells a story in her autobiography “Finding Me” of a time when she was in elementary school wearing clothing that smelled badly. Her teacher could have told herself a story that black people like Viola didn’t care about standards of cleanliness and that the consequences should be that she deserved to be kicked out of the classroom because of how she smelled when she came to school. However, Viola’s teacher was curious about the reasons this little girl came to school smelling so badly. The teacher discovered that Viola was living in a home with no running water, and this was the reason she was showing up in the classroom the way she was. It would have been within the teacher’s rights to ask Viola to leave, but because she was curious, she discovered a story that allowed her to have a more helpful response and allowed Viola to have dignity.

But it would have been easy for the teacher to tell herself a simple story to come to a quick conclusion and remedy the problem. How rare is it to withhold rushing to judgement and instead slow down to make a decision that considers people as well as problems.

Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about the importance of slowing down, and perceiving nuance today in this episode called, “Either/Or – There is No In-Between.” We will be using the document White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, a link to which is in the show notes for this episode.

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 277: White Supremacy Culture – “Who is Qualified?”

Who is qualified to make a decision? Like it or not, it is in the human nature to continually evaluate our surroundings based on almost imperceptible judgements. Sometimes these judgements keep us alive. Our bodies remember things to keep us safe, to “jump out of the way” of all sorts of perceived dangers. Some of those dangers are real, like oncoming cars, and these imperceptible judgements help us make quick, real-time decisions. But let’s be honest, most of our judgements are not about life and death situations … but we react to them as if they are. Emotions like disgust, shame, jealousy, anger, hurt and anxiety all make our bodies react as if there were danger that could end our lives. I regularly think of conversations about race where white people describe the conversations as “feeling unsafe” when the conversation becomes challenging… and many laws have been written through the history of the nation to keep white people feeling safe at the expense of the actual safety of people of color.

But sometimes, the impact of these imperceptible judgements takes on a different quality when these assessments are about who is and who is not qualified to make decisions for themselves or make decisions on behalf of others. We are going to talk about what it means to “be qualified” today in our conversation about this characteristic of white supremacy culture.
Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about being qualified today, using the document White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, a link to which is in the show notes for this episode.
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 276: White Supremacy Culture – “Antidotes to Objectivity.”

Do you think you know other people’s motives? A lot of us do. I remember working in a psychiatric hospital many years ago where a part of my job was to write down the observations I made about the individuals under my care. It took training to try to describe factually what I noticed in such a way that I was not implying motivations for behaviors I saw. Later in my career, as a staff educator, I would teach documentation skills to other staff – trying to help people realize that their assumptions were not facts, but rather interpretations trying to make sense of the things they observed. For example, a frustrated care staff may want to write down that a patient was “being manipulative” who kept asking for things at the nursing station, when this interpretation may have more to do with how the staff person was feeling – frustrated – than what the patient was doing – asking multiple staff for the same thing repeatedly. The word manipulative implied a negative motivation. Sometimes asking, “What was the person doing?” instead of “Why do you think the person was doing it?” helped the hospital staff to perceive how to document more accurately. None of us can tell what is in someone’s heart just by watching.

Culturally speaking, the belief that any one culture is “objective” and that other cultural ways of seeing or responding to situations is unreasonable is at the heart of the Objectivity trait of White Supremacy Culture . Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about antidotes to objectivity today, using the document White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, a link to which is in the shownotes for this episode.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 275: White Supremacy Culture – “Antidotes to Perfectionism.”

I know a number of perfectionists who tell me that one of the things they like most about their personality is that they strive to make things better. And it makes sense, there are a lot of things about the world, and about ourselves, that could benefit from improvement. But one of the things which perfectionists struggle with is that their inner critic is harsh and unrelenting. I’ve heard one perfectionist tell me before, “No one can be harder to me than I already am on myself.”

White supremacy culture has perfectionistic tendencies, as we discussed in earlier episodes. When a cultural way of doing life and conducting business takes on these characteristics, it can be hard on everyone involved. So how do we act the opposite of this way of living, especially for those of us who are white who may not recognize that there are other equally good ways of decision-making? Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about these antidotes to perfectionism, one right way and paternalism in today’s episode.

Episode 274: White Supremacy Culture – “Objectivity and Paternalism.”

Everyone has a perspective or bias, and most of us like to think that our biases are accurate. As a therapist, I often hear couples tell me about the problems in their relationship, and I will ask each partner to tell me the story of the problem. Often these stories are somewhat different, reflecting the perspective of each partner. I am no different. I only see the truth from my vantage point. There is a saying among marriage therapists that there are three sides to every problem: what I think happened, what they think happened, and what really happened. The truth, to quote the X Files … the truth is out there.
So what if one culture says that their cultural values or their cultural members get to define for everyone what is correct, what is valued, or what is important? In today’s episode, our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about how white supremacy cultures creates problems through paternalistic behaviors and a belief in objectivity. It’s just our perspective … and we are putting our truth out there.

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 273: White Supremacy Culture – “Perfectionism.”

What makes you feel good about yourself? I remember how much I used to dread performance evaluations. I remember so often feeling anxious, my palms would sweat, I’d feel restless, and have this sick feeling in my stomach in the hour before I’d have my yearly performance review. I hated it. It like I was always going to be evaluated based on some invisible criteria of someone who may not actually know what I did all day. There were times when negative writeups would end up in my file. I always wondered if there was an actual file. Regardless, the threat that my performance reviews would taint me was something that often kept me feeling tense at work.

But I wasn’t always the person being evaluated. Later in life I became a person who evaluated others. One of these times was when I was working as an educator. During that period I would give weekly evaluations to people who were trying to learn how to do something difficult for the very first time. It was not uncommon for people to cry or feel sick because of the stress. I remember people deciding to quit or drop out, often people who were very talented, and I would try to take those people aside and tell them what I saw in them and how it is normal to experience strong emotions and have doubts on the way to learning how to do difficult things.

The thing I was trying to convey to them is that they were not bad for being imperfect, feeling embarrassment or running out of ideas. In fact, it was quite the opposite – this is what it feels like to learn something difficult. In fact, if they stuck with it, they likely would discover novel ways to overcome the problems they were running into. I recall one of these tearful conversations once with a student who thought about dropping out of their program because they were struggling in my class. After the conversation they decided to stay in the program, passed the class, and eventually went on to earn a PhD in the same field where they now are doing cutting edge research.
Perfectionism smothers and kills so much passion in life. I have heard it said, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” and that might be the perfect way to think about the standards we so often hold ourselves to.

Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about perfectionism this week as one of the characteristics of white supremacy culture – characteristics born out of our colonial past that divide us from one another and even ourselves.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 272: White Supremacy Culture – “Fear of Disconnection.”

What makes you afraid? A common thing that people across cultures run into is having a fear of unfamiliar foods. New flavors, textures, or smells can create strong responses – sometimes embarrassingly strong responses. However, we tend to think that the food “we” like is … “normal.” I remember discovering that some of my non-American friends from overseas found making macaroni and cheese from a box to be disgusting, when it was a childhood favorite food of mine. Hearing them describe to me what they found disturbing about mac and cheese though made me see their point. They said, “I can’t believe that you eat food coated in rehydrated powdered cheese that only sticks to the pasta because you don’t rinse off the starch water.” After hearing how they saw one of my favorite foods actually made ME lose my appetite a little.

White Supremacy Culture in many ways is like mac and cheese – so common, and yet unexamined for what may not be appealing. But in this way it is also like mac and cheese – if you only eat that, you miss out on the nutrition found in other culture’s foods. White Supremacy Culture is in many ways the air we breathe in cultures where white values are normative. These values are found in the school system, the legal system, many religious denominations and norms for conducting business in “professional settings” among others. This way of doing what works to keep white majority people comfortable is the topic our multiracial team of Christian antiracism educators and friends are going to explore together in this series we are calling “White Supremacy Culture.” It is based on the online document by the same name, a link to which is found in the show notes for this episode. Today’s episode is titled “Fear of Disconnection.”

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

CREDITS:

https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/characteristics.html

Episode 271: Hannah Reed – “Strength, Struggle and the Shepherd.”

The Antioch Podcast is a team of Christian antiracism educators and friends who gather every week to have a conversation about faith, race and the things that matter in our lives. We are a diverse group, but recognize that many of us are… well, we aren’t the youngest people doing this work. So today, we invited Hannah Reed to join us for a conversation about what her journey has been like as a white woman who has been an antiracism leader in the early stages of her adult life and career.

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.

Episode 270: The Intercultural Development Inventory – “Kissing Doesn’t Count.”

The Intercultural Development Inventory is a tool to help individuals and organizations assess their cultural competence and chart a path to increase this competence over time.  Last year, we took the IDI as a team, and since then, we have reflected on and grown from the information we learned from the experience.

On today’s episode, our team talks about what to do and – what not to do – to grow as culturally-competent individuals.

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.