We hugged and sat down. Sipping coffee she tells me that she can’t understand how our nation elected this guy.

I felt her panic and disorientation. She was waking up to a nation she didn’t recognize. I remembered feeling so many of the same feelings years before. The only difference between us was time.

White people experience the first lessons of awakening to white dominance much like older generations taught kids to swim…some encounter provides the toss and you panic at the awareness of a surrounding you know nothing about.

Someone yells “swim!” as your head tilts back and your limbs fail to find a motion that feels familiar.

Privilege convinces white people that we can choose to engage the disorientation of the deep end of white dominance or to get out and say “I’ll try that again when it feels better”. From where I sit today, it doesn’t ever feel better. Exploring the deep end of white dominance is counter to its demand for silence, secrecy and solidarity.

White people spend a lot of time and energy in one of two places:

  • trying to pretend white dominance doesn’t exist; or
  • congregating in the shallow end sipping a cold drink and ignoring the deep end as if half bodies in the water was enough.

I spent the first 30 years of my life in those spaces. I will be 60 before I’ve spent as many years swimming in the deep end of white domination as I spent ignoring its existence. While I still don’t feel comfortable, what has changed for me is the ability to navigate the deep.

This is a pivotal choice. How will you respond?

Come join us as we learn together!

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Rebecca Greenidge

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