Wow, what a day! There were many ups and downs, twists and turns. I have no clue where to begin but anywhere is better than nowhere. The opening ceremonies were amazing! We had a Navajo and Pueblo blessing and then a bird song followed by a local supporter who introduced our first keynote speaker, Dr. Heidi Beirich from the Southern Poverty Law Center, who was amazing! She highlighted the many hate groups throughout the US and the increase in hate related violence. Although the statistics are staggering, to say the least, there is hope as many of the people with the privilege to attend this conference are continuously working toward a more pluralistic, whole community.I also attended workshop discussing “abortion as genocide” and another about decolonized spaces.
I need more time to process all of this as I have done a significant amount of work regarding force/coerced sterilization in communities of color. I see parallels between the sterilization and abortion issues and how white people manipulate, even if there are good intentions behind the actions, things in ways that will benefit their position or gain support for their position. How do we see the world and how is that world view part of the either the dominant “normalized” view and where do our views deconstruct the norm? What does it mean to be in an environment that has so many people at different places in their journey and affirm all those many aspects and positions? How do I personally perpetuate the same institutional inequalities?
I think the most interesting, confusing and stunning experience was the white anti-racist caucus. This was the first time I have ever been in a white caucus before and it was interesting. I had no idea how to deal with all the various emotions and perspectives that were being brought up. There were so many things that I identified with, how I make mistakes all the time, how I have the ability to pick and choose my battles which is a privilege that others do not have, how I get so angry with myself, with other white people, how sometimes I wish I could just forget everything that I have and just live, how there is no way I could live with myself if I didn’t continue to explore issues of power and privilege, how I practice my white privilege all the time and most of the time don’t even realize I’m doing it. I demonize white people who overtly and unknowingly perpetuate racism and then at other times have compassion for those who don’t see it because there was a time when I didn’t see it. There have been so many times when I have felt so alone in looking at my privilege, felt like I couldn’t relate to other white folks. I wanted to be one of the “good whites” who had friends of color. Then realizing that no matter what I do, I am just another white person who perpetuates racism, classism, ablism, etc., the only difference is I am choosing to look at that privilege. Understand it, learn from it and utilize it as a tool to provide room for others to have the floor. I am not good at it, I am always making mistakes, hurting others, lashing out because I am scared. Scared of being alone, of loosing face, of making that one big mistake that causes me to loose the people who mean the most to me. Scared because I don’t really fit in anywhere, not with my family, not with other white folks and many times, not with people of color. At the end of the day, I will always be that white person who means well, works hard to be honest but may at any moment turn, perpetuate the racism a little too strongly. Even knowing that that those mistakes will happen and that there is no perfect white person, no one who can live a life as an ally or as Dr. Eddie Moore, JR says, the “white superstar”, because we have all grown up in a society that places people into categories and then places values on those categories. We have internalized this, every single one of us.