Attitude and Personal Growth

I caught myself being racist

Soon after the pandemic hit I went to Danny’s hot dog stand on the Brunswick mall. There was a long line, all six feet apart, and when I stepped to the counter I was horrified to see that no one making hot dogs was wearing masks or gloves. Weren’t food providers supposed to wear masks and gloves?
 
I was not courageous enough to confront the woman taking my money. Yet after I got my hot dogs I dropped them into the nearest trash can. Then I called the police. Not 911, but the office just to see if I was right about the law. I was a little freaked out I guess. The virus was new and scarier to me then.
 
That same evening I ordered take-out from Lisbon House of Pizza. I know! Basically I eat hot dogs and pizza; that’s what it looks like. Anyway, when I stepped to the counter I was horrified to see that no one making pizzas was wearing masks or gloves. While being handed my pizza I said to the woman at the counter, “So no one is wearing masks or gloves in the kitchen? I probably won’t eat this.”
 
She was taken aback; insulted. I explained that I was perfectly happy to pay for it, which I did. I thought that would make things okay.
 
In the first instance I turned my discontent away from the hot dog clerk and to a third party, the police. In the second instance I vented directly to the pizza clerk. Why did I handle these two instances differently?
 
I’m sick to admit it but I think it’s because the hot dog clerk was white and the pizza clerk was black. I guess I thought it was more okay to directly disrespect a black person than a white person.
 
Make no mistake. My comment to her was disrespectful. I told her to her face that I was rejecting the food she was handing me. Paying for it did not make things okay.
 
I have this awareness because the Black Lives Matter movement inspired me to read two books about racism by black authors, So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo and How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I’m starting to see things I didn’t realize before. Systemic racism is in my blood, sick to admit it or not.
 
Without this awareness I would have justified my poor behavior on many other grounds.
 
As a white person I have to be more aware and call myself out. This post is me trying to do what the books are asking me to do. This is me trying to be an example for other white people. It’s not fair to put the burden on black and brown people to bring this stuff to light.
 
And notice the title of my post. It’s about a behavior not a person. It’s okay to catch oneself doing racist things without defining oneself as a racist. Just because I did a bad thing doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. I choose to define myself as a white person who grew up with systemic racism trying to learn to be anti-racist.
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If it fits in my head, it’s probably too small

 Good Group Tips

 

In principle, big ideas are always the result of putting our heads together. Really big ideas are already out there in the heads of many people just waiting to be put together. Without sharing my ideas with fellows and without openness to new ideas I am a prisoner of my own limitations, incapable of more than I can imagine.

Practical Tip: I serve the group best when I am humble. I accept that I probably don’t have all the best answers and if I do, the question is surely small. I talk with others about my ideas and their ideas. I release my ideas, let them be criticized, and let others build on them. I trust the wisdom of the group.

It’s okay that I don’t understand everything; that it doesn’t all fit in my head. I am open to ideas and achievements beyond my imagination.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Ask, don’t tell

Good Group Tips

In principle, good group decisions are based on shared understanding and shared understanding comes from asking questions of each other. When we tell a peer what they should do without first asking their opinion, we risk having made a decision without the benefit of all available information. And we risk missing the opportunity for advance support of the decision.

Don’t ask, don’t tell contributes to inaction. Tell, don’t ask contributes to oppression. Ask, don’t tell contributes to good group decisions and resulting good actions.

Practical Tip: In relations among relatively equal peers, ask someone’s opinion before telling them what to do.

Facilitating leaders ask. Commanding leaders tell. Facilitating shared understanding and advance support for an action dramatically increases chances of it being implemented well.

Asking rather than telling is a spiritual attitude of humility and a practical way to muster all available information and enthusiasm.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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