I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Seems a little facile. I’m more for making resolutions whenever… meaning thinking about life and my direction.
George Yancy’s Dear White America article below helped me to pause and think about all the “ism’s” in the world and in our lives. He confronts the reality of racism in all white people and makes me think that all attitudes towards others are nuanced. Meaning that whether the issue is race, gender, gender identity, nationality, body size, looks, city or country lifestyles, or in the helping fields,” “patient/clientism” the dynamics are similar. We all are on a continuum of like/dislike, accept/criticize.
We judge, no matter how hard we try to be “non-judgemental “. We continually react to others. That is our nature. I think it’s in our genes. Unless they are in our tribe, “others” are potential danger. (Not that people in her own tribe can’t be a pain) This doesn’t mean “so be it”. It means we must be continually cognizant of our own tendencies to make people “others”. We should strive to be on the lookout. Notice our immediate reactions when meeting others, whether we pass them by on the street, they are our neighbors or clients. Whether it’s a person walking down the street wearing clothing you react to or a tattoo (sorry, full disclosure, a tough one for me), or someone’s race, size, class, or mannerisms scanning for differences means some feeling will come up.
And after we notice this reaction we must remember to be kind to ourselves. Remember we were a member of the human family that can be judgmental and unfair. But just by recognizing you are having a reaction to another person you are beginning a path of understanding and acceptance. Our job is not to dismiss the feeling as “bad” but rather accept it something we feel at the moment, based on our history and who we are. That other person may or may not be the person we imagine them to be. So only by acceptance and realizing our impressions are skewed can we grow and learn. And then we can continue to reach out just a little bit more to get to know the “others” as variation of us in another skin, size, gender or whatever.
Read the full article here