I’ve had several conversations during this week that touched on racism and white privilege. Often times the conversation quickly devolved into confrontation as defensiveness (on both sides) percolated to the surface. It’s often difficult for a person of color, as an immigrant, as a woman, as one who identifies as LGBTQ, as a non-Christian, or any other minority to express our perspectives without taking it personally when that perspective is questioned, minimized, invalidated by members of the dominant culture. Often times privileges (gender privilege, political privilege, and especially white privilege) blind those who are in positions of privilege and power to the needs of those who are among the oppressed and marginalized. I am grateful however that were are allies and friends out there who are conscientized and are aware of the dynamics at play. Thank you Br. Dan Horan, OFM.
There’s another kind of WMD and, although this kind of WMD doesn’t involve bombs, it can nevertheless result in explosive anger. This WMD is white male defensiveness, which is the experience that often arises when people attempt to have conversations about structures, systems, institutions, and cultures of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and other forms of discrimination. What I’m attempting to name here is an ostensibly instinctual (think flight or flight) reaction of self-defense when white-identified males are confronted with the reality of pervasive societal or even ecclesiastical injustice. And while this is also a common reaction for many women, as a white man I feel it most appropriate to address this issue on these terms and according to my experience.
Part of the problem is a conflation of terms and ideas. Though the topic of discussion may be structural racism—or to borrow a term from Fr…
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