Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds

Exploring White Privilege at Spirit Rock

[Editor’s note: this day-long is being offered at Spirit Rock in May. It is offered, in part, as a Continuing Education course for Health Care Professionals, so I understand why they direct the advertising toward working with “clients.” However, my experience is that people of colour, queer, trans and disabled people are often treated as “clients” in every situation, even in Buddhist communities, where they should be regarded as equals and as leaders, not as “clients.” I hope the workshop itself is able to steer people away from that kind of paternalistic, disempowering relationship.]

Spirit Rock – Awakening Our Hearts: Exploring White Privilege to Build Authentic Relationships Across Difference

Buddhism has as its refuge and vision a heart that is unrestricted, luminous and free. As we practice the Eightfold Path, our hearts begin to open and call us to explore unconscious beliefs and behaviors that cause harm and suffering to others and ourselves. For example, we as white people are unaware of the ways we build identities of whiteness which cover our hearts and separate us from people of color.

One of the main obstacles to exploring unconscious beliefs and behaviors is that as white people, we prefer to examine ourselves individually to determine whether we personally carry prejudices. We believe that we are “good people” who wouldn’t discriminate and that the unconscious beliefs and behaviors don’t apply to us. We prefer to adopt a more “color-blind” position. This stance does not take into account that our lived experience includes having “caught” messages about race and having received the benefits of white-skin privilege, which occurs mostly outside of our awareness.

By becoming aware of our group identity as white people and by owning this reality of privilege and access to power and resources, we are able to transform ourselves and our ability to be in authentic relationships, across differences. We begin to work towards the creation of multicultural communities by addressing the changes needed to bring about true inclusion. Through this process, we will have the opportunity to create structures and cultural norms that honor everyone in our sanghas.
The exploration we are proposing grows from the premise that we are always deserving of love and that self-judgment is a barrier to open-heartedness and new learning. Because we understand that this uncovering may touch places of shame and blame, our gathering will be conducted using practices of awareness, loving-kindness, patience, truthfulness and the invitation to skill development. As we increase our understanding and deepen our exploration, we may find ourselves experiencing a new freedom of expression unobstructed by constructions of identities around whiteness, and this daylong is therefore intended for people who self-identify as white.

Teachings are appropriate for individuals as well as health care professionals. Continuing Education (CE) credit available.

Learning Objectives for participating health care professionals-
This workshop is designed to help you:

  • Incorporate while working with clients, the understanding of the adverse impact of white privilege, and integrate heart-opening practices with themselves and others across racial differences;
  • Identify, and examine with clients, the personal, and often unconscious, opinions and beliefs we live with around privilege and race, and how that can cause harm and suffering to others and ourselves;
  • Recognize, and share with clients, how we express messages in our personal and professional relationships through denial of difference, shaming and blaming, rescuing and other micro-aggressions;
  • Communicate how structures of exclusion in organizations are normalized in policies, procedures and culture and how we can change them.

Young Adults (18-26) and Seniors (65+ with limited income) are invited to attend this day for $45.

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This entry was posted on 2016/04/11 by and tagged .


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I do Tai Chi with Paul Read, the Teapot Monk, @ 21st Century Tai Chi Academy https://www.21stcenturytaichi.com/academy/89szm

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