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.