I’m white and confused
…and I’ve learned that confusion is a powerful place to create from.
In fitness theory, there is a concept called “muscle confusion.” It’s the idea that when you keep your muscles guessing and constantly shift your muscle focus, you end up gaining more strength in a faster period of time.
We live in a time of confusion and chaos and chaos makes predicting the future very difficult.
But chaos CAN make us all stronger, give us a greater awareness, and do it all at hyper speed.
And that’s the gift of chaos—which brings me to “white privilege” and how it fits into this “muscle confusion” analogy.
On a private forum for spiritually aware entrepreneurs the moderator recently posted this:
“A white spiritual entrepreneur posted very adamantly on a thread about racism on my timeline that there ‘is no such thing as white people or any other color. It’s all an illusion.’ How would you handle that?”
The comments were many and landed on a spectrum from:
“It’s another form of spiritual bypassing and white-passing.”
“As a student of A Course in Miracles, I see this as ‘mixing levels’ (which I find myself grappling with a lot).
- On the purely SPIRITUAL level, yes, the world of FORM in this physical existence is all a vast illusion. Only Love exists in the Ultimate Reality (capital R).
- But while we’re here in this incarnation, we are immersed in THIS reality (lowercase r), and our task is to accept and navigate this realm of duality and separation — so we may find our way back to Oneness and Love.
- This tendency to ‘mix levels’ is natural and unavoidable for most of us on the spiritual journey. As we keep growing, we get incrementally better at discerning the distinctions and holding both levels without ‘mixing’ them. Ascended Masters (Buddha, Jesus, Moses…) had mastered this clarity of vision. Most of us, though, are still learning…”
That last post about “mixing levels” feels important to me, but…
WHITE PRIVILEGE MAKES ME NERVOUS AND IT FEELS LIKE A DANGEROUS CONCEPT TO ME
…and it’s not because white people aren’t privileged. We are–and we should make an attempt to EARN those privileges, just as everyone who has privilege should do.
However, as clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson, has so passionately stated many times,
“The idea that you can target an ethnic group [white people] with a collective crime regardless of the specific innocence or guilt of the constituent elements of that group—there is absolutely nothing that is more racist than that. It’s absolutely abhorrent.”
Which led me to respond to the forum moderators post on illusion with the below thoughts. I’m sharing it here because I’m learning to soften my fear and anger and find empathy and this post and the comments and links which followed helped me find a more compassionate place.
Now, I’m not saying that blind compassion cannot be a dangerous thing—it can be and often is. However, I’m doing my best to integrate all perspectives with the intent on coming up with some kind of universal truth in the end. I don’t know what the solution is. I just know that I’m allowing myself to soften in an attempt to really feel into what’s happening in our country.
Here is my post (I’ll follow it with some of the comments which made me stop and think and then I will post further links in the comments of this post which I found thought-provoking):
I’M WHITE AND CONFUSED
Having read this entire thread and the linked articles [from spiritual entrepreneurship “illusion” thread], I must admit that I am frustrated with how ignorant I am on this subject [white privilege] but keenly interested in improving my experiential knowledge. I’m doing my best to feel into the uncomfortable feelings I’m having about this subject and doing my best to properly identify their origin, understanding that the discomfort is pointing to the healing available.
Since many of the people I work with are coming from the following perspective, it would be a disservice to not share said perspective here in the hope of finding greater clarity which I can then share with others:
—> Where does the concept of “anomaly” fit into all of this?
- anomaly – something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected
My core teaching has always been that ANYONE can become the anomaly in ANYTHING when they do the proper emotional clearing work and gain mastery over their thought patterns and vibrational output. That it’s easier to teach people how to change their emotional/vibrational output and watch reality reflect that back to them as the anomaly in each scenario than it is trying to change the entire system before one can start feeling satisfied with macro-reality.
My teaching has been that it’s so much easier to heal our own emotional injuries rather than trying to change everyone else’s. And that every person who does the emotional work at a micro level, then adds exponentially to the vibrational output of reality at the macro level.
This type of thinking (reality being relational to one’s emotional/vibrational expectation of it) is the basis of teachings like the Abraham-Hicks work, which millions of people use as their guidebook for reality. That’s why I feel it’s important to identify where all of this fits into this conversation of white privilege.
Which, I suppose, leads to my real question or query:
- What are the emotional/vibrational injuries on either side of the conversation which need to be healed?
- Are there POC who do not experience racism?
- Must everyone at the macro level heal before we can receive the benefit of our own emotional work at the micro level?
I’m interested in what can be healed on a personal level and how healing at the micro level translates up to a macro level? Subjective vs. objective reality. I suppose the conversations happening are the result of micro awareness meeting macro reflection. I get confused about whether my focus should be on the problem or the solution, however. For me, I always assumed the solution was teaching others how to gain mastery over their own personal universe.
I’ve remained silent in threads like these because my own ignorance is often met with condescension, or I’m viewed as a contrarian. I’m terrified of being misunderstood or labeled part of the problem. However, if I am part of the problem, it would be twice as damaging to go on perpetuating false teachings—so, I’m speaking up, finally, in hopes that I and others tuned in but afraid to comment might gain some awareness and that I might be able to clear the injuries which prevent me from being truly of service to all people.
Some of the fears which come up in me as I reflect on white privilege are:
- Others might think any success I have achieved is only because I was white (and what if they’re right?)
- Maybe all of the coaching I’ve done about being the anomaly in all things has been a disservice to POC
- What if my own ignorance has led to others hurting?
- If I speak my current perspective others will be angry or I will be misunderstood
- I’ll be seen as unsympathetic to POC and part of the problem if I express my current “truth” even though I’m always hoping to expand my awareness, otherwise I’d just stay quiet
- If I talk about humans being vibrational/emotional/spiritual beings above any physical attributes we have, I’ll be seen as ignorant and others will project anger at me
- Any personal examples I share about “being the anomaly” or “success in playing with emotional/vibrational energy” will be rejected because I’m white
- I’ll be immediately labelled a “white supremacist” if I share conservative viewpoints on any subject
I’m terrified to post this here, but it’s important for me to gain more clarity on what I don’t know so that I am sharing information and advice that is universally relevant in the future.
I’m always willing to be wrong in an effort to be more aware more often. I’m eager to heal anything within me which is out of alignment with love. I’m just a little confused at which areas need healing and how many of my current understandings about vibrational/emotional reality fit in with the concept of white privilege. I know I’m not the only one having a gut check about this, right now.
Open to being ripped to shreds, here, so long as the conversation ends up benefiting everyone.
Many thanks to all of the dialogue which has already been shared here.
Here are some of the comments I received:
Thank you, Jon, for your post.
I’m not sure that it’s possible to respond to everything. I think that you have very clearly articulated many of the concerns that are common for those of us who are white when we start to notice the disparity between our perception of reality, based on so much of how the world benefits us, and the experiences of people of color.
I think that these questions you are asking are questions for you to hold gently, and to honor and reflect on.
For me, questions of individual healing preceding social healing, or vice versa or simultaneous is a slightly different question then what is needed in our present moment.
I think the first thing to explore is not how to heal, but how to stop causing injury. How our perceptions of ourselves, our behaviors that come out of our sense of what we have a right to do or be or think or say, how our participation in a social and political world that explicitly benefits us while diminishing the experiences of others before I can think about healing, I have to stop hurting.
While of course, I have thoughts and opinions on what you have said above, honestly, there is so much that I am concerned that choosing just one of the items you mentioned above will take us down a rabbit hole.
In fact, you have lifted up very well the kinds of things that we must grapple with.
I do not believe this can be answered in a single post, rather it is the work of a lifetime, and something to focus on for a period of time.
I am grateful for what you have written here, and I hope that you, and others reading here, will recognize that this kind of awakening does not happen at the speed of social media. I think that you have just outlined the work ahead of you. You have identified questions and concerns, and are now free to go explore.
But as I said, I think that before healing can happen, before we can truly understand how to participate in the healing of ourselves and others, we have to first recognize how we are participating in harm, and reduce or stop that.
I appreciate your posting here with your inquiry, and I hear you that this feels risky to post this here.
Instead of wading too deeply into your specific questions, I’ll offer this to you.
1. I also believe that we are most empowered when we are working to shift what is in us, to affect change around us. Because I am a person of color, it’s always been a given that healing for me includes addressing the direct effects of racism on me and my self-worth.
And I have internalized this shitstorm of an oppressive system we were all born into, and because of that, I am a part of the problem. You are a part of the problem too. And because you are white, it’s a lot easier for you to be oblivious to that. Because you are white, anti-racism is not a given in your personal healing journey the way it is in mine.
Once we start to look at that and look at how to NOT be a part of the problem, the “what to do” in the external world, in our work, in our families and communities, in our politics, starts to become clearer. And it’s clear to me that just working on ourselves as individuals is not enough. It’s a good start though.
2. Again, I hear you that it feels risky to put all this out there. My (unsolicited) advice to you is that you will need to deepen your capacity for self-compassion so you can take personal responsibility for your internalized -isms. Self-compassion is the ultimate skin-thickener. It is the antidote to white fragility.
I doubt anyone here plans on ripping you to shreds, but you do need to be able to take care of yourself, care for where you are wounded, so people of color and/or others are not being asked to take care of you as you learn.
That is the difference between self-compassion and self-pity. I hear your desire to grow in this area. I wish you good skill and every ounce of self-love you need to do that.
Thanks for your thoughtful inquiry, Jon. There are many questions here. So I won’t go too deeply into each, other than to say:
Learn more from POC and from people who changed history rather than white armchair philosophers who were completely out of touch with their times, some of whom might even have been scam artists.
Read the writings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, Rosa Parks, Imaculee Ibigiza, Aung San Su Kyi, “Brown Versus Board of Education”, and more. Take a more global approach to your learning.
Watch the Nancy Duarte TED talk “The Secret Structure of the World’s Greatest Speeches”.
And yeah! As RP said: have more self-compassion and don’t expect POC to take care of you and your feelings.
When I first heard the term “white privilege” it rubbed me the wrong way. It still does. I’m not sure it’s the best way to go about affecting positive, long-term change, but then again, maybe it is. It’s okay to admit we don’t know sometimes.
However, my personal belief is that anyone CAN become the anomaly, as I’ve outlined here in the same forum:
I’m one of those white people who believe healing the self/soul, first, is the only true way to be of maximum benefit in one’s community. Here’s my current thinking on that (always open to new ideas, however):
What many call hereditary or genetic or cultural wounds, I believe stems from the emotional injuries and addictions of each parent which are passed down to the child at conception.
If the mother has issues with men, the child likely will too. If the father is an addict because he did not feel loved, that passes to the child, etc. The child, then, begins in error or emotional injury in their soul and because of that error continues to act out of alignment with their true soul desires.
The Law of Attraction, as a constant in the universe, is not responding so much to mental affirmations, but rather, is a mechanism that shows each of us what the emotional injuries within each of us is and what needs to be healed to fully embody our soul’s desires.
We render a reality which shows each of us the emotional injuries which we, as individuals, must heal (even though many of those emotional injuries are inherited from our parents and their’s inherited from the parents who birthed them and on and on).
In many instances, community and “external comfort systems” are used to AVOID dealing with the deepest emotional addictions which stem from birth and childhood emotional injuries. Community and really, reality itself, in my thinking, is specifically designed to show us the emotions which we each have repressed as a way to avoid pain. And everyone’s emotional injuries are different, although, cultural groups with similar upbringings and ideology often share collective emotional wounds.
However, my feeling is that most people never go deep enough into the individual emotional healing work because it’s so much easier to create external compensatory strategies, one of which, can be a community which makes you feel better about your emotional wounds without encouraging you to experience those wounds fully, heal, and release them.
Where I have trouble with blanket labeling any problem by race or any other factor (and trust me, I’m really feeling into this and open to shifting my thinking), as in the white privilege label, is that it creates a supposition, when there isn’t enough context, that changing or acknowledging behavior is all it takes to heal emotional wounds. But I’m still not so sure that is accurate.
My current thinking, as someone wisely wrote in another comment to me, is that behavior changes can temporarily prevent further injury, but if the individual emotional wounds are not soon healed, no amount of behavior change is lasting.
We see this in A.A. all of the time. It’s easy to start using all of the right words and doing the seemingly right things according to The Big Book, but if you don’t really start feeling your feelings on your own and healing the emotional addiction which led to the physical addiction, you’ll use again.
The reason I am a promoter of individual healing, first, is that until I am healed, how can I truly see how to help another.
In the Bible Jesus has a famous parable that essentially says, “Don’t try and remove the speck of dust from your neighbors eye, before you have rid your own eye of the freaking block of wood which blinds you.” (I’m paraphrasing)
Yes, I’m a huge believer in the power of community, but it has a tendency in my experience of creating very conditional healing. If the group is no longer around for support, it can often lead to emotional relapse because the causal emotions were never truly healed inside each individual.
When we use reality as a mirror, to show us what we are repressing which needs to be fully felt, we learn to experience our fears rather than living in them. Only having the individual bodily experience and passing through the repressed emotion can we truly heal. Then, once healed, we can teach others this same healing process. The interesting thing is that the healing of causal emotion removes much of the external turmoil, because the turmoil was only there as a signal from our soul that the deep healing was available and necessary to truly have full reception of the soul’s desires.
All that to say, I see MANY approaches, both individual and community driven, having success at the micro and macro level and I think it’s dangerous to bucket people into groups which we blanket label with traits and qualities because of their skin color without considering the deeper emotional pattern which are at play.
Isn’t bucketing qualities by race what started racism in the first place? How is it healthy to continue that theme of tribalism? It misses the greater truth which is that reality is a reflection showing us that which is not yet healed inside of us.
Now, I’m doing my part to heal my blindness to some of the advantages I have because of my white skin. I see those advantages. But the white privilege narrative, to me, seems to champion a message that one person cannot rise above cultural bigotry and I just cannot fathom that anomaly is not an option for absolutely everyone. So, when many of us are focused on promotion self-growth over cultural growth, I think it’s because many of us believe that to do it the other order would be getting the cart before the horse.
I’m seriously confused about this and open to the group’s insight because I am and want to continue to heal any biases within me (and I acknowledge that they are there), but identity politics seems to leave out a very important part of the equation: we are all having individual experiences of a collective reality environment. So, shouldn’t the healing happen fully at the level of self, first?
One response to this post which I found helpful came from a POC regarding the #TakeAKnee protests. The analogy made me think in a new direction as I pondered about whether protests were in actually harmony with love or not (I’m paraphrasing):
“When you’re walking down a dark alley and a group of men much bigger and stronger than you try to rape you, there’s not much you can do. But you can yell for help and maybe, just maybe, that cry will result in a solution which comes in time to prevent further suffering from these evil men. Right now, POC feel like they are getting raped in an alley. Bending a knee is a yell for help, and a hope that someone will shine light on a solution.”
And I believe that’s where the concept of “mixing levels” from above is valuable. Yes—we can all be the anomaly, but reality is showing us via Law of Attraction what still needs to be healed within us PERSONALLY to truly move seamlessly between the perception of being human and the perception of being one with God. Society is a reflection of the collective inherited emotions which still burn within our personal bodies.
If we are seeing a collective cry for help in any form, our very perception of the cry shows us that there is something within ourselves which still needs to be healed, even if we don’t think we agree with the cry.
True mastery and morality is not about just doing nice things when it’s convenient, or just assuming we are nice people even when we turn immediately from anything that feels painful or uncomfortable. Mastery is about taking ANYTHING you perceive and using it as a trigger or catalyst for identifying that deep-seated emotion within yourself which still needs to be healed. Turning from suffering because it doesn’t feel nice and then spiritually bypassing by saying “it’s all an illusion” is a missed opportunity to heal something deep within yourself.
Whether you believe people should take a knew at NFL games or that “white privilege” is real is beside the point. The mere fact that you’re perceiving a reality where these discussion and protests are happening shows you that there’s something deep inside which YOU still need to heal. It’s not your fault. We all inherit all kinds of generational crap when we’re born. These inherited emotions really are the concept of “sin.” To rid ourselves of that generational emotional baggage, however, we have to make an individual intent to feel deeply the hurt, grief, pain, and suffering of our inherited past. Until we do, we can never truly be of any real assistance to anyone.
That’s a difficult concept, but I firmly believe it’s what this time of awakening is all about. With expanded awareness comes a light which showcases all of the skeletons in the closet. If we’re unable to look at them, integrate them, and walk away healed, then we can never expect to walk as Masters.
Are you MIXING LEVELS or SPIRITUALLY BYPASSING?
Or maybe a better question to sit with is:
What does it mean to truly be loving?
I don’t know, but I’m allowing myself to transcend anger and fear and sit with all of this. I hope you will too.