Acknowledging Who I Am, A White Man

ActivismConsciousnessEnvironmental Racism / IntersectionalityIntentional LivingJustice and EqualityLiving in Service and VolunteeringPersonalRacial Equality and Justice

As I was visioning my life of service today, I realized that I spend so much time acknowledging who I am. We live in a society that has been so oppressed and exploited, with white men doing the majority of the oppression and exploitation, that increasingly with nearly everything that I do, I feel a draw to acknowledge who I am.

Some may read this and jump quickly…

“That’s because this culture is so ‘woke.’ We can’t even be ourselves anymore!”

I do not acknowledge who I am out of any sense of guilt or shame.

“Ah! He’s virtue signaling!”

I do not acknowledge who I am to improve my social status or to appease others.

“Liberal, just trying to fit in with the rest of them!”

I do not acknowledge who I am because I want to fit in with a portion of modern culture.

I acknowledge who I am because I see it as absolutely central to dismantling the oppressive and exploitative systems that I am in service to help dismantle.

To not understand how I have gained from being a white man…

To not understand my complicity in systems designed by white men, primarily for white men, that intentionally – as well as unintentionally – oppress and exploit Black and Indigenous people, people of color, and women…

To not understand how I am still blind in some areas and how this may contribute to the pain and suffering of others…

To not understand how my presence may affect others, both for what I can control – my own actions and words I have been indoctrinated with by the dominator culture that I have yet to shed – and for what I can’t control – simply that I am a white man…

To leave this self-observation and self-understanding out of the process when I choose my actions and my words, would be complicity in the injustice and inequity to humanity that I am trying to liberate myself from and play a role in liberating others from. To leave this out of the process of my being would go against the idea of who I want to be and how I want to come to society as a public servant. To leave out all of this would not meet my need for integrity, transparency and truth.

To leave out that the so-called “United States”, was founded by white men using the enslavement of Africans, 

To leave out that I live on land that was stolen through the genocide of hundreds of Indigenous cultures…

To leave out that the white male-dominated political and corporate systems have molded this nation to benefit white men the most…

To leave out that the past that this “nation” was founded on is the present via The New Jim Crow Era, discrimination and exclusion built into the current systems and inter-generational trauma…

To leave out that as a white man, I have benefited from all of this…

To leave any of this out would be living in a state of delusion or lack of integrity.

So I acknowledge who I am not out of pressure, guilt, or shame, because “I should” or “I have to”; not out of duty or obligation.

I acknowledge who I am because my soul would be crushed if I didn’t. Because I would not be living in integrity, in truth. I would be living in the delusion that the colonialist, capitalist, consumer culture wants me to be living in.

I’d also like to share that I acknowledge who I am, not out of altruism of any sort. I acknowledge who I am because I want to belong. I want to belong as a part of this diverse and beautiful humanity. This is difficult and vulnerable to say… but there are struggles to being a white man in this dominator culture, too. I have been indoctrinated. I have been a part of the great separation of humanity. I suffer from this, too. I hurt knowing what I have done and what I might do. I hurt knowing the feelings others have just at my presence. Although I will always be a white man, I feel much sadness when I’m viewed as the oppressor because I am trying so hard to dismantle the oppressor inside of me. I feel sadness when people assume the worst of me and lump me in with “all white men”.

Acknowledging who I am is a way to help meet my needs of belonging, of shared reality, and of mutuality with others. I believe that my friendships will be deeper, my collaborations with others will be stronger and my ability to love and be loved will be elevated. I believe that acknowledging who I am helps to foster safety, respect, understanding, and mutuality. 

I wasn’t planning on writing this today. I just sat down at my computer to make a few notes and this flowed out of me. This is vulnerable to write and to share publicly. I am uncertain of how it will be received. Part of me wants to not publish it out of worry or out of avoiding possible conflict or tension. I am hesitant to center myself in a society that disproportionately centers me and I worry about how some people may perceive me in reading this. But I don’t know how to truly acknowledge who I am, without centering myself. I also walk the line of existing in a radical state, while speaking in a way that people who are guarded or new to these perspectives can understand and gravitate toward. I have been doing a lot of listening and I have learned a lot in the last few years. But I am still learning how to live in harmony with others in these difficult times. Please know that I share these thoughts from a desire for compassion, peace, healing, mutuality, harmony and understanding. 



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