I have been doing workshops, seminars, and classes for the last decade or more on White Privilege. It is important work that attempts to challenge white leaders to recognize the manifestations and the impact of the privileges their white skin affords them, and costs others.
While there are aspects of this that are academic, and in fact most of what I learned about the subject took place in pursuit of a doctoral degree in the field - for me this has been a remarkably spiritual undertaking.
My father, a good and a kind and a hard-working man, was a racist. He did and said many things that demonstrated that he saw and treated white skin differently. He said and did many things that were designed to teach me the same lessons about white skin and black skin.
I know enough about my family’s story to know that the seeds of this racism were planted long before my father cultivated them. I know enough about my own story to understand the spiritual cost of aligning with the injustice of racism rather than aligning with the Spirit of a loving, living God.
Call it shame. Call it guilt. Call it regret.
By whatever name it goes, living in denial of it while committing to complicity with evil only makes the pain grow with each passing generation.
My academic pursuit of the origins, the dynamics, and the manifestations of white privilege has enabled me to be an advocate and spokesperson for a new way of living. That is important work.
What I didn’t realize when I started this, though, was that this work is also a means of seeking spiritual healing to deep wounds that have Dorhauers have endured for generation. What I am coming to understand is that the spiritual healing that is occurring brings comfort, solace, grace, and peace not just to my restless and wounded spirit – but to the lingering and as deeply wounded spirits of ancestors long dead who, like me, were asked by empire to perpetrate a costly injustice in exchange for the baubles of privileges received.
Saying yes to that may have netted my family privilege, but it cost us a great deal. We sold our birthright for a pot of stew. We spent our life on that which was not bread. Doing the work of repairing the damage caused by racism and white privilege not only creates the potential for a more just and equitable world to emerge; that work to repair the damage also helps heal deep spiritual wounds that the oppressors and their allies carry – but often suppress and deny for the sake of their unearned privilege.
There is much work to be done here – both as an advocate for racial equity and as a Dorhauer helping to heal my spiritual wounds and the wounds of my ancestors.
I am fully committed to that work. I trust fully in God’s Holy Spirit to sustain me on that journey and to heal the brokenness that has come from my own family’s complicity with evil.
Gentle listener, I invite you to share the road with me. In whatever way you carry the pain and the anguish of this long-tolerated injustice, be it as ally with and benefactor of its privilege, be it as witness to its atrocities, or be it as victim of its unmitigated power to deprive: may the power of God’s abiding spirit heal the wounds that have long festered and for too long now gone untended.
And may the healing that is to come inspire us all to see with new eyes what God envisions for, from, and within human community as we travel our pathways into the Mystic.