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.