Whites need affirmation too - a quick summary of my channelling
"We are all here are the Emmett Till monument that represents the civil rights movement for blacks," a man is heard saying. "What we want to know is where are all of the white people."
I was reading the Emmett Till signage story and this quote caught my eye. It sums up the work that needs to be done in this country.
In March 2018, I was working with a gentleman who was performing a past life regression with me via hypnosis. During the session, I (apparently) started channeling. We were talking about America and the problems we are having and I remember I was reciting something that I knew to be true (both through experience and the fact that it resonated with me), that white people feel "left out" and don't feel "special" or honored like minorities.
Back in high school (early 1980's), our school had "Brotherhood Week", where different minority groups performed at assemblies during the week, to share their culture with the rest of the student body, in order to alleviate ignorance and help uplift an appreciation for different cultures. That was noble, but that week, I'm told, also led to the most fights and such.
The group I hung out with at lunch (white kids) weren't overly open minded regarding race. We would lament that there wasn't a "white" day, to counter act the African day, Latino day, Polynesian day, etc. It seemed that "white" people weren't as special as non whites. The concept of "white privilege" was not there with us, nor the marginalization of minorities, women, non heterosexual behaviors, etc.
I can look back and realize the errors in our thinking and attribute those errors as immaturity of our group. As I've matured, I've reflected on the error of that way of thinking and work to prevent it with my kids and people in my social cirlces.
I bring it up, because I recognize the same feelings being echoed throughout the country. The "Straight Pride" parade in Boston, the White Supremicists that keep shooting up Emmett Till's memorial sign, the farmers in the central part of the country who don't feel appreciated for the hard work they do.....all want some form of "recognition" that they are special too.
Funny how projection works; these are the same people that accuse social justice warriors of being "special snowflakes".....yet they are the ones acting out because they desperately want to feel loved and special. Even Trump wants to be loved and made to feel special.....because he is so empty inside.
In the end, to bring this country together, we will need to sort this out. I think a lot of the MAGA folks feel like everyone else has a birthday party, yet no one is going to throw one for them. And if they can't have one, no one else gets to have one either. It, literally is, chopping off one's nose, despite their face.
The MAGA hats aren't all bad seeds, just not matured yet. Think of them as middle school or high schoolers with limited life experiences in social issues. It might help ease the angst we feel in these unsettled times.
Love you all! Thanks for letting me post up!
Very interesting to hear your thoughts. This makes for some deep thinking doesn't it? Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, I appreciate the feedback. As I was writing the post, I do reflect on how much I've evolved over time. It is so easy to stay in the lizard brain mentality, it requires little effort of empathy or understanding, and allows for the ease of the tribalistic and ego based justification for acting in a selfish manner.
There was a lot of "paternal programming" and social circle programming that had to be undone. I'm a better person for it, not only in my own day to day life, but as a way to minimize my judging of people, because I've felt the same things they did. The difference is that they haven't moved past their egos/lizard brain/tribalism yet. I hope they will, but they may have to suffer in order to do so.
@codyroo, People aren't born with prejudices, they are taught. So is the group think. I was raised by a bigot. I had friends of different colors in elementary school, and I figured out quickly that I shouldn't bring them home. I was raised by someone who complained about equal opportunities in employment-it held up hiring, getting the job done, etc.
I raised my kids to be tolerant, as I recalled how I felt as a kid when I didn't understand reactions I saw at home. I was always open with my kids about their grandparents. I did not understand systemic racism, white privilege, etc. in my younger years, I was a lizard brain as well. I too evolved. I am eternally grateful that my son isn't judgmental when I ask him to explain things to me when I don't understand them. He knows in my heart, I truly believe in equality, but my upbringing has instilled some inequality traits in hidden corners-because when they were installed I hadn't a clue what they were. The more I've learned and weeded out the seeds that were planted when I was a kid, the more I can detect on my own to evolve further. I hope to evolve for the rest of my life.
Here's a recent story that underlines what Codyroo said.
IRL I'm a member of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) - a group of non-black/non-AA people who meet regularly to train in understanding the systems of oppression and how to become and remain a good ally. I'm also a member of an adult chorus that is NOT church-based (it's through community college continuing ed).
The choir is comprised of mostly older (>65), white people, with a few latinx and asian sprinkled in each section. Recently the director gave us a piece to sing. It's called "I Wish I Knew How." It is a modern gospel song written by AA composer Billy Taylor. The lyrics [paraphrasing] are about wishing I knew how it feels to be free, to undo the chains binding me, fly free like a bird, etc. The director asked for volunteer soloists, of which 2-3 of the whitest white people volunteered to sing the solos while the chorus learned the background.
I WAS HORRIFIED. I immediately put down my music book and just listened as the director instructed everyone to "Put more soul into it like the [black] choir in the Youtube video!". I waited until after the rehearsal to approach the director (a white woman, > 70 years old). She is a very sweet lady, for sure, and she's a good director. BUT. This is such an inappropriate choice of music.
I approached her gently, and told her the following points, which to her credit she did listen, but to date she clearly has not absorbed (more on that below):
- It is inappropriate for a choir in which there are NO black people to sing modern gospel, old spirituals, African songs in native languages that are not from a musical or film.
- This is a form of cultural appropriation.
- It is the embodiment of perpetuating the system of racial injustice that has plagued this country since its founding.
- I know you had no bad intentions, but going forward many of us are trying to change the way things are done and forge a better path. This includes acknowledging past injustices, not appropriating and calling out when we see those things, as I am doing right now.
- But the composer is black and he gets royalties.
- The composer is from a very privileged background - from a wealthy family, he even went to college.
- There are people of color in the choir that like this song and have no problem with it.
- So then should we not sing in Latin because we're not Roman? Or never in Hebrew because we're not all Jewish? What about Circle of Life?
- Isn't the feeling of not being free universal to some extent?
- There are spirituals in Lutheran hymnals, my father was a minister and we used to sing them all the time, so this shouldn't be a problem.
My rebuttals to the rebuttals:
- I doubt it was the composer's intention that his very gospel style music should be butchered by a mostly white chorus.
- The fact that he was born black in this country limits his privilege more than you can imagine, invoking his so-called privilege to appropriate his culture is wrong.
- If there really are people of color in this choir, you should assign the solos of this piece to them and then I'd be happy to participate in backing vocals, not to the lily white people who do not have gospel voice ability.
- As for singing in other languages, it depends on the content and source. Circle of Life is from a Broadway musical, written by a white man, so not an issue. The song in Hebrew is also from a musical [Prince of Egypt], and is not from a Jewish book of prayer. Oye Como VA [yes, we're singing that too, and badly I might add], is a pop song, so totally okay to sing it.
- Saying that feeling chained and enslaved is universal is disingenuous. As a woman certainly I have suffered particular oppressions, however they are NOTHING compared to descendants of African slaves. Just by being born white I have benefitted from the existing system, as have you and everyone else in this choir as far as I can see [still looking for those people of color -specifically black- she mentioned before, there are none].
- The reason old spirituals are in some protestant hymnals goes back to pre-Civil War. It was a way for abolitionists to raise awareness (and money) for the cause. We have TV, internet and phones now, we don't need them in hymnals anymore, besides the Lutherans are not exactly known for their diversity.
- I am uncomfortable singing this song and will not rehearse or perform it.
- I'd appreciate deeper thought being given in future to song selections.
Upshot? Nothing changed. She asked the choir today if anyone objected to the song (because a few noticed I wasn't singing it). They all told me I was being ridiculous and divisive and that they love the song. And the solos? Went to a very white mezzo, 1 asian man and 2 very white very old men. She said that before they sing the song, she'd make an announcement to the effect that "Even though we're not black, we can identify with the message of this song."
Performances start next week. I may be dropping out.
I agree that one's orientation to and understanding of privilege and race is developmental. Here's one perspective on developmental stages of white people regarding race and racism:
White Racial Identity Model (Helms)
1. CONTACT: In the first stage of contact, the individual adheres to the “colorblind” motto. They see racial difference but do not find it salient and in fact may feel that racism is in fact propagated by the discussion and acknowledgement of race as an issue. In this stage, there is no conscious demonstration of racism here. This seemingly non-racist position can cover unconscious racist beliefs. If the individual is confronted with real-world experiences or knowledge that uncovers the privileges of White skin, they may move into the disintegration stage.
2. DISINTEGRATION: In this stage, because the person has new experiences which confront his prior conception of the world and because this conception is now challenged by this new information or experience, the person is often plagued by feelings of guilt and shame. These emotions of guilt and shame can be modified when the person decides to channel these emotions in a positive way but when those emotions continue to dominate, the person may move into the reintegration stage.
3. REINTEGRATION: This stage is marked by a “blame-the-victim” attitude that’s more intense than anything experienced in the contact stage. They may feel that although Whites do have privileges, it is probably because they deserve them and in are in some way superior to minority groups. If the person is able to combat these feelings, they maybe able to move on to the pseudoindependence stage
4. PSEUDO-INDEPENDENCE: This is the first stage of positive racial identification. Although an individual in this stage does not feel that Whites deserve privilege, they look to people of color, not themselves, to confront and uncover racism. They approve of these efforts and comfort the person as these efforts validate this person’s desire to be non-racist. Although this is positive White racial identity, the person does not have a sense of how they can be both White and non-racist together.
5. IMMERSION/EMERSION: In this stage, the person makes a genuine attempt to connect to his/her own White identity and to be anti-racist. This stage is usually accompanied by deep concern with understanding and connecting to other Whites who are or have been dealing with issues of racism.
6. AUTONOMY: The last stage is reached when an individual has a clear understanding of and positive connection to their White racial identity while also actively pursuing social justice. Helms’ stages are as much about finding a positive racial identification with being White and becoming an active anti-racist.
THANK YOU!!! This is so wonderful to see it laid out like this.
❤️ 🌹 ❤️ 🌹
Just came across this video from "She the People" & am feeling excited and hopeful!:
I hear you, and in your shoes I might feel a similar concern. However, if the performance (and the reason for honoring this song) were framed with the right context, I think it would avoid the cultural appropriation issues and actually be a very positive influence for the choir members and the audience alike. Specifically, I agree that it is very wrong to just say "even though we are not black, we can identify with the message". Instead, I would precede this song with a statement about how this song embodies the struggles of the slaves in that ugly chapter of our country's history even up to the civil rights movement, and that we honor this song as a remembrance to them and a testament to the freedom and equality that is the birthright of every single human.
The reason why I think it's important to frame it this way so that the chorus can go ahead with singing it, is because I disagree with the idea that people should avoid performing culturally distant works of art. It is through art and engaging with it that we broaden our perspectives, and by performing these works, we can often be effective ambassadors to share those new perspectives with others who are most like us . People are more likely to listen and identify with the perspectives of people who are culturally closest to them. This is why cultural "bubbles" form.
The chorus performing this song has the potential to pierce that cultural bubble in a very positive way for many in the audience.
I suggested exactly the same thing, but the director deflected by saying that the composer is "from a privileged background himself" and the other choir members called me divisive. We do sing other things that are culturally distant but that don't carry the heavy weight that gospel songs do (again, we're not even a church choir).
Their audiences consist mostly of nursing homes and community centers, so any message would most likely fall on [literally] deaf ears.
Another issue is that in my extensive choir experience, whenever a not so diverse choir attempts to sing gospel or even just foreign language tunes, they do it badly. In this case, the director just sent out an email today that she may strike "I Wish..." from the upcoming concerts because it sounds so bad musically. So fingers crossed.
In the meantime, I'm taking time away from the choir to consider my membership in it. I just don't have the energy to die on this particular hill, again, because in fact, I DID die on an extremely similar hill 2 years ago, the result being I had to leave a [church] choir I loved singing in. So I'll go back in a couple of weeks, after the upcoming concerts, to see what-all we will be singing over the winter. As I may have said, I feel that I did plant a seed with the choir director, so maybe next choices will be better.
And my issue stems entirely from your same point: you have to put certain songs in their correct context. This is not being done at all in this case.