Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Between a rock and a soft place

As I am trying to summarise what our last dialogue meeting brought up - I can't seem to get a grip on the "one thing" to start with. So much happened on so many levels.

Most present in my mind is the shift that occurred this time, when we got together: the crossing over from every day mundane functioning to a deep mutual and caring connection where we were able to speak and confront and listen and be silent together.  This could of course be just a temporary glitch (the cynic in me is alive and well) a glance at what is possible between us,  but in the moment it felt like a true quantum leap towards our continuous effort to listen with no judgement and speak from our truths -

whatever it was, it was magical!

Listening to everybody's journey over the last 18 or so months, what stood out for me was how this process has profoundly changed us as individuals and as a group. We started out as a random bunch of women with very different agendas coming together to deconstru…

White supremacy, white privilege and why is it all my fault?

Reading the open letter to white anti-racists, which was the article we chose for last weeks dialogue session, my first instinctive response was:

Surely it's not my fault that I am born white!

I had to read the article again to overcome my initial defence mechanisms and open my heart and mind to look a little deeper. What I am beginning to understand with the help of my fellow dialoguers is that it is not my fault that I am born white...
...but (and here comes a big BUT, which is a separate issue altogether from Miley's scrawny, twerking behind by the way ;-))
 ....but
once I am waking up to certain privileges and advantages that come along with being born into the "right" skin - I can no longer hide behind the "it's not my fault" excuse and have to take accountability for my continuing to rely on these privileges and advantages.

At the same time I can't be an anti racist activist:  it's not my place to represent somebody who has not asked to…

Lesson learned....?

As  my struggles continue to find a new perspective, or at the very least the lesson behind the experience, there slowly but surely seems to be a shift happening in the perceptions around me. 

While there are those stubbornly defending social conventions, reverting to the default setting from generations back, where children's bodies are not their own when it comes to adults demanding hugs or kisses from them, there is at the same time a growing awareness amongst mothers and fathers that this is the symptom of dis-ease rather than a sign of appropriate social conditioning. Other mothers are coming forward, publicly demanding that people  Stop Asking My Daughter for Kisses as they finally find a voice for the unease that has been sitting with them unacknowledged for too long. This particular mother regrets that she  has become a silent witness to her daughter's private space being invaded by relatives, friends, even strangers and how social conventions dictate that we stand by…

Where to from here?

Image
Working through this  subject feels like clawing my way out of a sewage pipe - Now that the first shock is over - I am left somewhat stunned trying to understand how I got myself into this mess.

I am reminded on a daily basis of the friendships that are lost in the wave of anger and resentment washing over me after I "did that bad thing" - which was to first speak and then even publicly write about my experience and my feelings instead of just keeping quiet. 

As I am learning to stand exposed in my truth, working hard on my attitude of non judgement and open mindedness, the most difficult part is to not constantly defend myself and my actions, to stop doubting my own perceptions and to continuously make my way back to my place of truth.
I realise that being in defense mode - mostly in the early hours of the morning,  when I wake myself up reasoning with the people who tell me I am wrong - means I am quickly losing my truth by getting caught up in mind games and semantics.

Can of worms

A friend said to me " you know that you've got to keep on writing until it feels OK again"....
It doesn't by a long stretch -

This can of worms has been sitting unopened for far too long - and now that it finally exploded  in my face -  it is probably not surprising that emotions fly around like shrapnel.

Everything about this subject feels raw and painful, people respond with their own stories, their own agendas, their own fears. It feels like the epicenter of an earthquake, where everything around me shatters, yet in the midst of it all is a stillness; the clarity that it was inevitable somehow. I didn't choose the moment, the event or even the subject. It found me and I am doing what I need to do in order to get to the moment when it feels OK again...

There is nothing brave about it.
There is nothing evil about it.

As much as all the messages and phone calls of support and love have warmed my heart and helped me through the 4 o clock wake up calls of nausea…

Too polite to speak my mind - are we setting our children up as future victims?

Image
So this is a little off track - or maybe not, as it is about my children - but nothing to do with adoption or race for once: Instead this is a subject that touches my very own old stuff,  creeping it's way back into my life, as horrifyingly confusing as the first time round but - and this is my hope - with a new clarity and a different outcome.

This is about the big uncomfortable silence where we should be talking, but our social conditioning tells us not to "go there". This is about the pitfalls we as parents blindly stumble into or negotiate on instinct and good luck alone. Or we choose to ignore the issue all together as it only ever happens to "other people". But where our society seems to prescribe collective blindness, the facts are painting a scary picture: Statistically every 4th child gets sexually abused in some way before turning the corner into adolescence and the vast majority of abusers are the very people they know and trust.

This is about how …

The inherent racism in employing domestic workers

So here I am again - in the middle of a "race" dialogue on whiteness - this time there are eight of us - luckily I am with a (black) friend - cause groups still make me feel uncomfortable, especially when I don't know anybody; and yes, it does matter that she is the only black woman in this setup, with one black man and one Indian woman(I am assuming that they would both identify with this description - but of course I can't be sure)  - the rest of us: white.

The more I am part of conversations about race/ism the more I feel confused and unsure about - everything. The only certainty is that the issue in itself is a minefield and there are as many different feelings, assumptions, opinions flying around as there are people in the room. As my somewhat simplistic assumptions about white Afrikaans people and their racially challenged attitudes get torn to pieces by somebody who so clearly doesn't fit this roster, my opinions have to stand back once more and my emotion…

Get over "it" and move on? A dialogue that exposes my impatient side...

So. Our last dialogue meeting was about a week ago - I am still processing and coming to terms with my own open and hidden reactions. As we are getting to know each other a little better each time, there has been a noticable shift from polite and somewhat distant attention to emotional, sometimes disturbed and even confrontational listening.
I like that. A lot.

What I realised more than anything though was my own lack of patience and tolerance when it comes to fellow white people being (unintentionally) dismissive of our black or multi-racial counterparts experiences of racism. Be it by too hastily comparing those traumatic and humiliating events with episodes in their own lives, where they might have felt victimised, implying: "I know exactly how you feel, and it is actually no different being victimised for being fat from being at the receiving end of racism." Or be it by insisting they don't even notice somebody's skin color (my favourite: green/pink or brown I …