Chapter 12 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving
Think of a time you grossly misinterpreted a person (of any race) or situation. What information was missing that allowed you to draw incorrect conclusions? What in your belief system contributed to your misinterpretation?
I had a really hard time with this question. I’m relatively intuitive, so I often make decisions with very little concrete information. But I’m also introspective and have usually questioned how I perceived situations that led me to believe what I believed. Because the church was always so central to my family and my life, and because I had relatives and family friends who were missionaries, I generally approached “foreigners” as people who were interesting, and I understood that they had different cultures and norms in their lives. The missionary gene did lead to a lot of paternalism, and one of my greatest horrors is to be seen as “Lady Bountiful” when dealing with the poor or people of color.
I’m often reluctant to try to develop a friendship with people of color because I don’t want to be perceived as being a “fixer.” Perhaps I bend to far over backwards in not engaging, rather than being taken for a goody-two-shoes.
If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.