Friday, April 4, 2008

(Pasty) White Privilege

One of my dreams is to be a documentary film maker. Today's world is a fast-paced one, with little time for meaningful conversation around issues that matter to us. In my experience, documentaries slow down that pace for a moment, creating an opportunity for dialogues that can change the world.

The documentary that inspired me to make films is called "The Color of Fear." I saw it for the first time as an undergraduate student, and was so moved that I've watched it five or six times since. Each time I hit "play," I learn something new. I go another layer deeper into racism in the U.S. ... and into my own process of uncovering the pain and confusion I experience as I attempt to unlearn my role in this racist system.



This week is the 9th annual White Privilege Conference: an event established by a young black man named Eddie Moore, Jr. who wanted to create a family-like atmosphere to host difficult conversations about race, white privilege, and social change. I've always wanted to go to this conference, and this year, it's hosted in part by my grad program!

After walking into my first workshop on Thursday, I saw Victor Lee Lewis - one of the men in "The Color of Fear." When I saw his face, feelings of warmth and gratitude washed over me and my mind went back to the roots of my journey as an anti-racist activist. I never thought I'd be in the same room with this inspiring man!

I tried to say hello after the workshop, wanting to tell him what an impact the film and his role had on me, but he was pretty much swarmed. Luckily, he hosted another dynamic workshop today around internalized dominance and oppression with Peggy McIntosh and a few other inspiring speakers. I stayed after and was able to chat with both Victor and Peggy. What a great day! It was like an social justice activist's version of Disney World.

Victor was very gracious and asked that I email him the photo - he likes to collect them. Very cool, Victor Lee Lewis. Very cool.

This is me and Peggy McIntosh, author of "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" and other works on white privilege and race.

Peggy: "Can I see the picture?"
*looks at the picture*
Peggy: "Oh dear... we look very pasty."
Me: "Well, that's what happens when you're... you know... white."
*laughs*

Peggy is awesome in person and a delight to talk to! She really gave everyone the time of day.

You know how some say that activists have that "fire" within? Well, sometimes my fire can get a little low if I'm feeling defeated, challenged, or without allies... This week, I gathered kindling for my fire. Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters out there doing this challenging work. You are an inspiration!

2 comments:

Jen said...

Great post!
(Lovely dress and jewelry too!)

Lauren Marie said...

Jewelry pictured is by the one and only Jen Kahn :) Thanks, Jen! I love, love, love it!