Blogger Spotlight

Blogger Spotlight: Donna at “A Year of Living Kindly”


I have been reading Donna’s work for several years now, and I have long grown accustomed to finding a remarkable, thoughtful treasure when I peruse a fresh post on her site. With the example shared below, my (admittedly) high expectations were generously exceeded. Donna’s words are honest and well-measured, and the topic is both prescient and necessary. The presentation and development of the key elements is admirably-sculpted in the delicious way that excellent writing engages the reader, even those who might be hesitant, and holds up a mirror that some of us might not want to see, but we should.

Enjoy.


White America Must Embrace Becoming a Minority

The price of privilege is the moral duty to act when one sees another person treated unfairly.” (Isabel Wilkerson, Caste)

These are discouraging times, yet also illuminating. While the Black Lives Matter movement has brought hope and determination over this last year, it also brings awareness of how very far we are from achieving equality. And the anti-Asian sentiment that became more evident in response to COVID and climaxed in the horrific shooting in Atlanta last month shows us that hate is an equal-opportunity employer. As more of us act to counter the inequities surrounding race, ethnicity, and gender, the backlash by those intent on preserving the status quo becomes more malicious.

I am a white, middle-class, cisgender female. I recognize my privilege and know I will never fully understand what it feels like to be a minority or a member of a marginalized community. Perhaps it is that recognition that makes me eager for the day when whites join our sisters and brothers of color as minorities in America. It can’t come soon enough.

The U.S. Census Bureau has projected that by the year 2044, non-Hispanic white Americans will join all other ethnic groups as minorities. The Bureau states that, “no group will have a majority share of the total and the United States will become a ‘plurality’ of racial and ethnic groups.” In a few states—California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, plus the District of Columbia—this plurality already exists. Georgia and Maryland will soon follow, and many other states will be without a majority population in the next five to fifteen years. I don’t understand why this is so troubling to many white people, but clearly it is.

A few years ago, I was having coffee with several women. All were over fifty, white, well-educated, suburban, and privileged by just about any standards. Our conversation ranged across the usual: family, food, books, politics, aging…. Someone mentioned the Census Bureau projection that before mid-century, Caucasians would be a minority in America. This aroused considerable alarm and generated further conversations about borders, birth rates, and quotas. My comment, “So what?” was dismissed, undoubtedly viewed as flippant.

I tried to listen for what I was missing, but all I heard was fear and a sense of entitlement that puzzled me. These were smart women, kind women, women who would take offense at any suggestion that they were prejudiced. But they were. Of course, they were. In her extraordinary book, Caste, Isabel Wilkerson refers to this sort of prejudice as “dominant group status threat.” It may not be the usual prejudice or stereotyping; instead, it reflects the vulnerability one feels regarding their own advantages and position in the hierarchy.

I’ve thought back to that conversation a lot, and my response is still, “So what?” (and—more and more—an impatient, “Get over it, sister.”)

Why shouldn’t whites be a minority in America? No historic right was ever conferred on Caucasians decreeing that we have claim to the majority. Why does it even matter? If all people are equal, then whether any of us has majority or minority status shouldn’t matter.

And that gets to the heart of the problem. As long as one segment of the population believes it has an inherent right to be in the majority, we are not equal. Even if we speak up for immigrants’ rights, even if we support Black Lives Matter, even if we brandish our liberal credentials, if we are in any way resistant to the idea of becoming a minority ourselves, we have some work to do. Because, whether we admit it or not—whether we even realize it—we must be viewing minorities as “less than,” and minority status as undesirable. As long as we are unwilling to become a minority ourselves, we carry an implicit bias that we are somehow better, and deserving of privilege. Instead of denying it, let’s acknowledge it and work to put that bias behind us.

Those who are troubled by the notion of becoming a minority need to examine their beliefs. There will, of course, be those for whom racial prejudice and entrenched white entitlement will continue to hold sway. Those people may never change, and their resistance to the progression of American values will continue to place them on the wrong side of history. For many others—most, I hope—it’s just a matter of examining beliefs, acknowledging privilege, listening to the stories of others, and being willing to see from a new perspective. We’re not losing anything by joining our brothers and sisters of color as minorities in America. We’re gaining something precious: we’re moving closer to making the American Dream a reality.

In her book, Wilkerson raises another provocative question: “if people were given the choice between democracy and whiteness, how many would choose whiteness?” Recent actions in some state legislatures have provided a troubling answer.

Unless white Americans are unreservedly willing to become a minority in this country that we share with so many other minorities, our talk of equality, equal justice, and equal opportunity is hollow. Our reluctance to relinquish majority status attests that we fear the same discrimination we have practiced for centuries, and that we assume an undeserved privilege granted by the color of our skin.

Instead of wringing our hands, let’s join hands and celebrate becoming a nation of minorities united in a common vision.

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”  (James Baldwin)



You can peruse more of Donna’s work by clicking here. If you have comments specifically for Donna, please be gracious enough to make them on the original post found here so Donna can be assured of receiving your thoughts.

The opening photo is the cover shot of George Michael’s 1990 album “Listen Without Prejudice”. I manipulated it a bit in PaintShop, playing with the texture and coloring. That album, by the way, is quite lovely. George fought the Sony Executives over the design aspects of this album, insisting that he didn’t want his name on the cover so the focus would be on the music and the message.

That was 31 years ago.

The American Civil War ended 156 years ago. But not really, shameful but true.

Isn’t it time that we all started listening to one another, without prejudice?

Peace.

22 replies »

    • I simply had to do so. I happened upon Donna’s post right at the same time I was going through some difficult interactions with some of my own family members, and Donna’s words expressed what I wish I would have said during those conversations…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Belle! (Although the credit for the heavy-lifting all goes to Donna.) “Heal the Pain” is a terrific song, and actually, that entire album is really special. George fought hard to release songs that were personal for him, even though all the music executives just wanted him to keep remaking the “Faith” album…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great post. I can relate a lot to this, not only about the racial equality issue, but also the powerlessness and frustration one feels when one talks about serious issues with friends, among whom conservative ideas rule the day. For this reason, I hope Republicans will never change. If they ever change, maybe just a little bit of their racial attitude, most of my circle of Asians will flock to Republican party because their conservative ideas about family and government really align there. I often have this weird satisfaction when conservative Asians complain about racial discrimination against themselves. Don’t they see the irony that the bigotry they believe in is being practiced against them?

    Liked by 2 people

    • It always amazes me when I see people who have been disenfranchised by the Republican Party (and there’s a long list) racing to join that very party. There’s a theory, and it has some credence, that some people who are victims of prejudice will join an organization that allows them to victimize other cultural and ethnic groups as some form of twisted revenge. I just don’t understand how people who have experienced hate would actively promote hating others…

      Like

    • It’s here in Texas, as well. At least according to the statistics. But in reality, the Republicans have gerrymandered the hell out of the state so that the elected officials do not reflect the populace. The stains of corruption are deep, and it’s going to take some time to wash that out…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Brian, for your kind and generous words, and for sharing this post. I’ve been heartened by the response to it and wish the wider world were more like this thoughtful blogging community. It gives me hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Us white folks have been the minority in California for a while. Unfortunately, there are still neo-nazi groups strutting around and causing problems. And a lot of the wealth is still in white folks bank accounts.

    Owning white privilege is sooo difficult for so many people. I had to have a serious look at all my privileges. I’m disabled and poor, but I’m intelligent, fairly attractive and white. Yeah, I get treated differently than people of color, people with less education, immigrants who are ESL…

    I do agree with the “so what”. It has never bothered me to see few or no other white faces around me. Excellent share, Brian! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was just chatting with Melanie about this, so I’ll share some of the same highlights: Even though I grew up in Oklahoma, one of the epicenters of vengeful white power, I was so abhorred by the extreme racism and intolerance that I ran in the opposite direction, intentionally seeking experiences with other minorities (after all, I was one of those wretched gays) and cultures and alternative thinking. They were initially hard to find in a place where conformity was dictated, but once I opened a few doors, I kept finding more doors, and I opened as many as I could, thrilled about what I might find.

      A satisfying and happy life is just not possible if you never open doors that look different than yours.

      Liked by 1 person

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