What do I do when I live in an all white community?

Uncategorized Oct 31, 2019

Dear Racial Justice from the Heart Readers:

This week's blog is dedicated to answering questions from a recent Q&A call for people who signed up for my Afraid to Say the Wrong Thing? Master class.  

Please join us for the Stop the Hurt; Stop Your Implicit Racial Bias 5 Day Challenge.

An important question came up--again.  So, I though I'd share the edited transcript with you.

Peace and love,


What do I do when I live in an all white community or there's an all white situation or state like Vermont?

Well, thank you for bringing it up, Wendy, because I do get it a lot actually. And in fact, that's one of the goals that people have when they choose to work with me — how do I break out of my white bubble. The first way to break out of your white bubble is to investigate your own hidden implicit biases.

Because your hidden biases are influencing choices you make. They're influencing who you're in relationship with and who you're not. And they're also communicating maybe non-verbally or maybe verbally to the people of color who you do interact with or you, you run into, um, something about your readiness. So the first step to me isn't, Oh, let me go out and you know, find people of color in my town or you know, meet with the Latino ministers in my city. 

I think the first step is really to look at you and to discover, to get clear on your own journey with whiteness, so that when you do engage in relationship, you are doing so without causing harm. Or when someone points out to you how what you said is sort of within a right frame of reference or is bias, you have some capacity to be with it without falling apart and falling into defensiveness.

So there's a lot for you to do before you just try to seek out people of color. When I recommend the five steps to counter implicit bias, it's not until Step Four ( way down on the list) that I say to go towards that which you fear. To go towards it in a respectful way. And one of the ways to do that is to go where you're invited. So if people have a parade or a performance or an exhibit, and they say, everyone welcome or you get an invitation, you're wanting to go to that. If you are afraid of transgressing and going to a space which is, you know, a private space, then you could always call ahead and ask a question or send an email, ask the question.

But that step to me happens after you've done a lot of investigation on your own part, into your own hidden biases. So that's how I would answer that. And thanks Wendy. I think that's a question that a lot of people have. And if you do live somewhere like in Western Massachusetts or Vermont or Maine somewhere, maybe not Maine, I don't know. I've heard that Portland is a super diverse city, but if you live somewhere that is overwhelmingly and predominantly white, you can build relationships. 

For example, I've worked with someone all the last couple of years who, a European American woman whose goal in her mentoring with me was to break out of that "white" bubble. And because of her particular interest in farming and you know, food, she was interested in somehow supporting, uh, a community garden that was led by a Black people. 

She wanted to support that, but she wanted to go in there in a way that was super respectful and also that was mutually beneficial. So it wasn't like she was trying to be a savior or "let me tell you," or something like that. And she also had a lot of expertise because of her profession before she retired. So, in working together, we navigated her journey. And a lot of it was what were her internal thoughts and fears, you know, the fear of judgment, the fear of being rejected, um, the fear of harming other people, the fear of being called out in public. (Please go here to check out  our interview about her experience.)

So this desire I think is, um, is awesome, and I think it's best done with some company. You know, like most things, some accompaniment along the way, a racial justice buddy or accountability partner or if you have a mentor,  getting support from your mentor. 

Please join us for the Stop the Hurt; Stop Implicit Racial Bias 5 day challenge.


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