For the past seven years, I’ve been on a path of internal development and learning to step into the work of collective liberation as a wealthy white man. My guiding questions: “Why am I here? What is the work that is uniquely mine to do?”
This journey has led me to see that true healing for society can happen — when we create the conditions for reciprocity that is informed by historical patterns of privilege and oppression.
On August 12th, 2017 the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA ended with the murder of a counter-protester and injuries to many others. Since then, I’ve been watching the shocked reactions of white liberals and shaking my head.
Most want to dismiss the Charlottesville tiki-torchers as hate-filled bigots. If those guys are bigoted assholes, maybe some of that’s because we, the “good” white people, failed to build relationships with them? We were too busy feeling superior maybe?
But we can still learn. There may not be much hope for coaxing back dedicated white nationalists, but there are a LOT…
I breathed deeply, feeling my heart pounding and my feet under me on the creaky wooden stairs leading to the conference room. This time, I thought, I will fight for justice.
I once served on the board of a non-profit that provided services to mostly low-income people of color. The administration and board of the non-profit (myself included) were almost all white and not originally from the neighborhood being served. When the white executive director announced she was retiring, she tried to install her son as the next leader via a closed-door process.
This happened while I was starting to…
Learn more at risksomething.org
“I stood to my feet in the midst of the cosmos. I discovered that all were intoxicated and none were thirsty. At the moment you are inebriated, but free from the effects of wine, you too may turn and stand.” — Yeshua, Saying 28, Coptic Gospel of Thomas
I am heir to the great American tradition of East coast white liberal ideology, raised believing that Republicans were the problem and Democrats were the solution. My political education happened around the dinner table, where we would talk politics, history, and literature, and rail against conservative ideology.
When it became clear that it was too late for us to save ourselves, the hidden rocketships appeared.
The alien loudspeakers echoed across the land: they were here to save humanity. They would give us safe passage to a glorious new, bigger, verdant earth-plus planet, until now untouched by “intelligent” life. We would get the chance to start over.
But there was a catch.
There is one group of people who will have to stay behind. One group to be the last outpost of humanity in a world that will become uninhabitable to our species as a whole.
This morning, I walked around my neighborhood while looking up. Normally, I look down, just trying to get to my destination.
But this morning, I deliberately pushed myself to focus on what was elevated. Rooftops, skylines, treetops. The sky was a clear blue after two days of nonstop rain.
By looking up, I reoriented myself. This is my neighborhood, a place I know well in some ways. But in focusing upward, I saw new many new things. …
In my Star Wars allegory, I am a stormtrooper assigned to midlevel management on the Death Star (a gigantic moon-like construction that has the power to destroy entire planets). I never chose this role…I was born into servitude and in return I get to lead a pretty comfortable life, even as I live every day in violation of my own values.
I learned to love myself through realizing that my station didn’t preclude me from doing good work just because I don’t get to fly an X-wing with the Rebellion. To the contrary — I’ve got access to the Imperial…
Can good teaching save America? Considering the number of education-focused government agencies, non-profits, and businesses in America today, there are plenty of folks who believe that this is true. I’m one of them.
Liberal white folks like me usually focus on low-income children of color when we think about saving America’s educational system. In my case, I spent a decade of my life as a dedicated teacher of such students. There were many unmet needs in the schools I taught in, and the resulting costs to my students’ education and health were significant.
But this essay isn’t about the challenges…
Burnout saved my life.
I didn’t think so at the time. In fact, while it was happening, my burnout as a public middle school English teacher felt like watching a close friend dying a little bit each day while I helplessly looked on.
For ten years, I was a dedicated teacher, spending my time, energy, and money in order to provide the best education I could for my students.
But something was wrong. It wasn’t that I wasn’t working hard enough. It was that I was working in the wrong direction.
Today and every day, I give thanks for my…
White people, we are not free.
We are not free.
This may sound strange, to those of us who are no longer in denial about the ways that systemic racism benefits us at the expense of People of Color in every single American institution — education, housing, healthcare, law enforcement, employment, and on and on.
These institutions give a few of us unearned material wealth, access to power, and physical comfort. Millions more White people are given a leg up when it comes to accessing the institutions that shape our lives. …