The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House – Audre Lorde
Growing up female in Texas and later coming out as a Lesbian, I am well aware of systemic sexism and homophobia. However, along with everyone else, I have had to learn about my own racial bias and my part in supporting systemic racism. I am a recovering racist.
Tools that have helped me along this journey include my PhD education in mythological studies. I have at least a 101 education in all the major cultures and religions in the world, which is helpful in guiding organizations into right practices in recruiting, onboarding, and retaining diverse employees. I give you this information because I am often asked, “What do you as a white woman know about racism?” Part of what I know is my connection with sexism and homophobia, but I also offer that since white people created and perpetuate racism, it is my job to help dismantle racism.
Another tool was the research process of my dissertation, The Changing Myth of Mary Magdalene. This is where I learned the reality of the deliberate and systemic oppression and repression of women in the Christian church. This systemic and institutionalized repression of women, gave me the lens to recognize the systemic and institutionalized repression of Black and Brown bodies that is prevalent in this country. My dissertation also gave me a concept that I work to bring into all of my DEI work. I wrote,
“It is essential that all expressions of the human race can identify with the sacred. The God-image evolves along with humanity, thus, all marginalized people are faces of God.”
This includes all races and cultures and also gender-nonconforming people, transgender people, and all those that identify as Queer. We are all swimming in a sea of biases – racist, sexist, homophobic, gender, cultural, class and others that we all have to wrestle with. Looking at those biases and working to overcome them, makes us better people. Doing this hard work, not only helps those who are being oppressed, it helps us to become more beautiful versions of ourselves as we recognize beauty in others.
I would also offer that grace is something we have to offer each other, not shame and blame. Shame and blame never teach what we want them to teach. We need to give honest efforts in our anti-racist work as we acknowledge that we will make mistakes. In the words of Brené Brown, “I am not here to be right, I am here to get it right.” Here are some real-life options for you to use if you are called out for racist behavior, in the words of 828 Consultant Sherese Gamble:
- “Take a breath…it doesn’t feel good and defensiveness doesn’t diffuse. Focus on the impact of the comment, own it. Listen, seek to understand on your own time and apologize.”
- “I recognize that I have work to do.”
- “I’m going to take time to reflect on this.”
- “What I’m gathering is, (insert what you have just learned by the call in)”
- “I believe you.”
Work to recognize that all people are faces of God!