By Sister Maria Friedman
For any event I have an immediate reaction and then something that lingers.
The first night I was impressed with the 600 people registered – some in person, some online, 600 people wanting to assess their experience of white privilege. That was heartening. The next day there was keynoter #2, Jasiri X. I’m not interested in rappers, I said to myself. He turned out to be my favorite keynoter.
Now I look at what images from the conference remain. What sticks with me? I am aware of two striking truths.
#1: A person who is not included experiences deep pain. It isn’t that people are mean – though there is plenty of that – but to not include people in activities, to not invite them in, often causes them – in this case minority persons – to feel like outsiders – forever. One speaker talked of minority people saying to one another, “Why don’t white people care (about our suffering)?” That struck me.
#2: White people and minorities approach racism differently: When white people talk about race it comes from their heads, one speaker said; when minorities talk about race it’s what is in their hearts.
The overall message for me was the pain that minority people experience.