“…We might also stop to imagine when there might be moments when it is important to take a step back and ensure that others have space that does not include us.
“For example, William, an African American, spoke of his experience seeing groups of whites entering a situation that would have felt unapproachable to him had the situation been reversed:
“There is also a sense of privilege, a sense of entitlement. … you think about the Million Man March. This was a day of atonement, everybody asked, ‘Please let us just have this day for ourselves and this is something we need to do.’ Then you watch CNN or CSPAN … and you see some white people walking in there anyways.
“For William, although legally allowable, white people entering that space was inappropriate and can only be described as the enactment of privilege. Even if the white people’s intent was to show their support, we should wonder, did they ask whether or not the African Americans who planned and participated in the event desired the support? If we do not see that our everyday behavior often carries a sense of entitlement we will not ask questions about its effects. For this reason, just knowing that we need to ask the question is an important step.”
From Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How To Do It,
by Shelly Tochluk, 2010, pp. 121-122. Tochluk, a researcher, counselor and teacher, trains educators to work with the diverse Los Angeles school population as an associate professor of education at Mount St. Mary’s College.
This column is prepared by the BYM Working Group on Racism (WGR) and sent to the designated liaison at each local Meeting. The BYM WGR meets most months on the third Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Locations vary to allow access to more Friends. If you would like to attend, on a regular or a drop-in basis, contact clerk David Etheridge, firstname.lastname@example.org