Interrupting Racism in the Present

This is a testament to the amazing work my RC Community is doing on eliminating racism.

As a dark-skinned African-heritage female from the Deep South,1 who has had the battle of internalized racism; who has a mother who’s battled with well-meaning progressive white folk; who has learned, from participating in black nationalist movements, to regard (well-meaning) white people with caution, it has taken me a number of steps to feel that the battle against racism being waged in this predominantly white organization of RC is not just theory.

At our Community’s workshop last weekend, we shared the site with an all-white (outwardly benign) group of senior citizens, two of whom assumed that I was part of the “help” at the site. At two different times, two different members of that group addressed me with questions about some custodial matters at the site (as though I couldn’t possibly have been a guest there).

The restimulation on my part was immediate, and I struggled with the decision to leave it alone or bring it to the attention of my Area2 Reference Person. I thought that perhaps I was being too sensitive, and that nothing could or would be done. And why bring up this “small” matter? After all, it wasn’t a flagrant violation. (They were ever so polite.) People might even think I was making it up. However, I pushed past my patterns of isolation and self-doubt and brought my concerns to my Co-Counselor, a teacher, and my Area Reference Person.

They didn’t say much to me, so I thought, “That was the end of that,” and “At least I didn’t just ignore it.“ However, soon I was informed that action would be taken—and indeed, something was done. The organizers of our workshop approached the white group’s leaders and (apparently) gave them such an effective lesson on racism that they claimed they’d even work on recruiting “people of color” into their own organization. They even offered an apology.

There it was. In the quiet of a New York State (USA) mountain conference center, a piece of this country’s historical sick love affair with a widespread, deeply damaging pattern was brilliantly exposed and challenged.

Much credit is due to the leaders of my Region.3 They interrupted racism in a real way and demonstrated that change can be made.

If only I’d had that kind of support in my youth when I was faced with such not-so-subtle forms of racism. If only everyone had backup4 when encountering such hurts, and was allowed to safely discharge them.

I left the workshop with feelings of euphoria and hopefulness. So, this process works—slowly, but surely. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Patricia L. Mallory-Oduba

Brooklyn, New York, USA

(Present Time 171, April 2013)


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Last modified: 2017-05-31 15:55:34-07