The Dominant White Culture: Moving from not knowing what it was to feeling it in every recess of my being

Chapter 36 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Take a look at the continuums below. The qualities on the left are often associated with the dominant white culture. Folks working to break patterns that maintain racism notice that thinking and acting in ways closer to the right side of the continuum can be useful in addressing racial healing. Take a minute to place your self along each line. You may notice that you move more to the left or right depending on your environment. What is it that causes you to move one way or the other?

I BEG you to get the book if you don’t have it already, and check out this chapter and the page she is talking about. I find myself mostly on the left side (by the way, those traits are also ones I have come to connect with being a Myers-Briggs ISTJ.) Because I understand those traits, a little, I also understand that my initial tendency is not always appreciated in a collaborative group. I hope I am beginning to, at least, appreciate the traits on the other side of the continuums, particularly when working on racial matters.

The traits on the left have stood me in good stead as a CPA, but now that I’m retired, I also recognize that most people don’t function that way.

This year, a friend of mine asked me to come to work on a temporary, part-time basis to help her company out during corporate tax season. I worked back in accounting on my own schedule with numbers, and rules, and exactitude for a couple of months, and I realized how comfortable, calm, and fulfilled I was. Since I’ve retired, I’ve been doing a lot of volunteer work at the church and in various social justice settings, and I found I was taking those problems to bed with me at night – to wrestle with in the small hours of the morning. During the time I was working in accounting, I slept better. Those lovely numbers that stayed on the page and behaved as I knew they should calmed my soul. The book is right! It’s hard to begin to work in a collaborative, supportive setting, but I think it’s ultimately worth it.

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.