Open the Window: Impossible work?

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 3-4 weeks asking myself two questions that I received from the Black Lives of UU:

How does living in a white centered world affect your humanity?

What works about the white supremacy system that is in place for you?  

Here’s another reflection that has come out of that consideration.

I have come to think that I am working on an almost impossible work.  There are many insidious things about the system of white supremacy.  The insidious thing for white people is that the system works for us in ways that are virtually invisible to us and silent to us.  If nothing calls my attention to it, I am most likely not to see it and not to hear it. If I am opposed to the white supremacy system then I have to work HARD to learn how to see it and to hear it.  The white supremacy system is destroying all of us, and so, I am looking for ways to see and hear the white supremacy system so that I can help dismantle it.

Recently I took notes for 30 minutes while watching an episode of Blue Bloods on television.  Within 30 minutes we were shown 28 commercials. One half of them included only white people.  One quarter included a mixture of People of Color and white people one of which only showed People of Color in subservient roles. About an eighth included no people at all, and 1 commercial of the 28 included just black people.  

Conscious or not, we are swimming in advertising. It favors white people shaping the unconscious way that we do business in the world (in other words, this is white supremacy alive and well). I have to work hard if I want to be aware of it, and as a white person, I don’t have to be aware of it at all.  

As I try and make visible and audible the system of white supremacy that has shaped me since infancy into this kind of blindness and deafness, I looking for voices of People of Color to listen to, especially through blogs, interviews and books.  If they make me react and defensive, that’s a sure sign I need to listen and learn.  

Bob Patrick

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1 Response to Open the Window: Impossible work?

  1. Margaret Townsend says:

    Thank you, Bob Patrick, for this thoughtful, insightful piece. I frequently tape shows I want to view and then watch later, fast forwarding through the commercials. I have missed a critical learning point! Thank you for shining the light for all of us on the ‘visible and audible white supremacy system that has shaped us.’ We need to see it and name it before we can more to the actions required to change this narrative.

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