Protest and shadows…
Last week, we left off with Blue [DQ] content and its diversity. We’ll pick-up from there, but first, let’s extend our exploration of protest a bit. Our own privilege is often hidden (from our consciousness) in our shadow—or, blind spot. In her book, Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of race, Debby Irving writes:
Privilege is a strange thing in that you notice it least when you have it most. [pg. 71]
Jesus helpfully defines privilege in a familiar parable—the good Samaritan—we find in the Gospel According to Luke [cf. Luke 10.30-37]. The privileged are represented in Jesus’ story by the priest and the Levite. It wasn’t their religious position, per se, that made them privileged in Jesus’ sight—although their status as ‘priest’ and ‘Levite,’ and how they used it, likely contributed significantly to their blindness. Rather, their privilege was the discretion they were able to take for themselves, to simply ignore their brother’s misfortune—as they both “passed by on the other side.” The privileged are those who have the discretion to overlook injustice because they are not the ones under its cruel heel.
In the ‘race’ discourse, a matter as simple as a shared understanding of the terms for the discussion is often not so simple. For instance, an over-simplistic, personalized definition of ‘racist’ fuels one huge difficulty in reckoning with the aftermath of our nation’s original sin—e.g., slavery, and resulting U.S. economic benefit, growth, and prosperity on the backs of enslaved African Americans. In White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo writes:
In the post-civil rights era, we have been taught that racists are mean people who intentionally dislike others because of their race; racists are immoral. Therefore, if I am saying that my readers are racist, I am saying something deeply offensive; I am questioning my readers’ very moral character. [pg. 13]
Of course, DiAngelo doesn’t use the ‘pop’ (individual-evil) definition of ‘racist’ in her corporate, ethnic-awareness training work. She also understands through experience the amount of effort it takes to help her audience [white people] see nuance in the ideas of what racist means—e.g., socialized, systemic injustice toward a group of people whose identifying characteristic is that they lack ‘whiteness.’ DiAngelo identifies one very problematic consequence of shaming as a growth strategy when she writes:
Racial bias is largely unconscious, and herein lies the deepest challenge—the defensiveness that ensues upon any suggestion of racial bias. [pg. 42]
Add the socialization to privilege that white people receive which places them outside ‘race,’ it’s small wonder white folks relegate anything implicating any kind of complicity in racial injustice to the unconscious realm.
Mississippi, for example…
This week Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith modeled a sad example of unconscious bias (see story here). That Hyde-Smith emphatically states she did not intend to invoke Mississippi’s dark history of lynching actually makes the point (see here). Her remarks, containing racial innuendo, betray an unconscious projection. Unlikely that Hyde-Smith would double-down on the ‘just kidding’ justification she has offered if she had no need of defending a shadow. [cf. James Cone article here]
In his book, White Awake: An honest look at what it means to be white, Daniel Hill writes:
Another major historical reality that has shaped the fabric of the United States is the seventy-plus years of black lynchings. [page 73]
Why do we not talk about lynchings more? In the United States every year we honor the 2,996 people killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, as we rightly should. But have you ever heard of an honor ceremony to acknowledge the 3,959 [4,400] lives lost to lynching? [page 73-74]
Why do we reverently remember the casualties of those attacked by terrorists from outside our country (again, as we should) but turn a blind eye to the black lives lost in acts of terror at the hands of those within our own country? [page 74]
The simple answer to Hill’s question is we have repressed our own ugliness into our unconscious. An intrinsic, active ability to confront, disarm, and effectively open the unconscious is why an art exhibit, installation, or performance (or an historic depiction/reenactment/installation) in a museum or contextual environment can sometimes be the most powerful forms of protest.
Recall both Spiral Dynamics [SD] and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin predict that evolutionary advance is always marked by increasing complexity and inclusion. As we unpack DQ we see ‘higher’ (or ‘deeper’) levels of the spiral are indeed more complex and inclusive than their preceding levels. Further, while all Blue animating energy is most essentially working on liberating us from the tyranny of the self, e.g., Red [CP], and establishing a [higher/deeper] ‘order,’ we quickly discover that our Blue—whatever flavor it may be—is not the only kind of Blue out there.
The thin blue line…
As we mentioned last week, Blue [DQ] is the first ‘conventional’ stage of values development—convention, or what we have agreed upon, what we have established. Again, Blue opens the space for conventional identity. So, assent is a necessary but not sufficient aspect of DQ. ‘Necessary’ in order to be a member; ‘not sufficient’ because humans are not robots. In his overall argument for grace and trusting the faith of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul acknowledges the inability of the law to produce righteousness [Romans 3.20 ]. Further, Paul confesses his personal inability to absolute compliance [Romans 7.15].
Our Blue [DQ] nationalistic identity in the U.S.A. is born and bound by our founding narratives and documents, and is formed in us every day by the experience of life. Our constitution [and attached Bill of Rights] is the umbrella under which our system of federal, state, and local laws find meaning and authority. Sometimes the order to which all have assented must be restored by imposition. Law enforcement serves as the accountability loop for our nationalistic, ‘American’ identities. Law and order makes Blue an effective check on Purple [BO], Red [CP] excesses. As we’ve noted, Orange [ER] and Green [FS] excesses need to be checked as well, but Blue has traditionally struggled with taming those—e.g., DQ‘s limited agility, etc.
Common but different…
Religious Blue [DQ] content includes: Judaism is Blue. Islam is DQ. Hinduism is Blue. Buddhism is DQ. Sikhism is Blue. Jainism is DQ. Shintoism is Blue. Confucianism is DQ. Taoism is Blue. And so forth. You’ve probably been waiting for me to say, Christianity is DQ. There’s also nationalistic Blue. Beyond religious and personal freedom and responsibility, other American Blue identity myths include: ‘pioneer spirit,’ ‘revolutionary heroes,’ ‘huddled masses yearning to breath free,’ ‘conquering the wild West,’ ‘land of the free,’ ‘home on the range,’ ‘rags to riches,’ ‘home of the brave,’ just to name a few. There’s much more we can say about Blue content, economic DQ, for instance. We’ll save that.
In all this, Orange [ER] sees many good opportunities; Green [FS] sees many stories, and good diversity. Blue [DQ], however, has an absolutist tendency and sees multiple Blues as troubling. Ironically, atheism is also a form of Blue, often absolutist. People like Richard Dawkins use this ‘absolutist’ feature of naïve Blue as a straw man to knock all religion down. Next week we’ll pick up on this problematic aspect of Blue [DQ] and also begin to look at readiness for change—different postures in relation to change.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
Note: I know it’s ambitious trying to introduce a big picture idea in a blog format, so I’m using a serial approach. Introductory post (here). First in series (here).
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