I'm currently enrolled in a Game Changer Intensive through the Pachamama Alliance. The question about privilege and repression was asked in the most recent discussion forum. I want to share my response here, because it feels very important at this moment in time.
It began with, "Are you ready?" Here is my response:
I'm not sure if I'm ready for this, and ... I'm going to write anyway. (with deep respect to Lynne Twist, who I heard say something similar at the Bigger Game Expo in 2013: "I don't know if I have the answer to that, and I'm going to speak anyway." So brilliant.)
I remember being about 8 or 9 years old, and making a trip with my parents to Mexico. Typical tourists, we had our photo taken in a cart with a gentleman dressed in a broad sombrero and a sarape. After the photo was taken, and I began to step down from the cart, a young boy approached me and held out his hand. I thought he was offering his hand to help me out of the cart, so I took it and stepped down. It was only years later that I realized he might have been the one looking for an offering. I had no idea that people, children, begged on the street to sustain and survive.
I was raised in a relatively upper middle class privilege, and never knew that others weren't living the same way. There was no spoken gratitude for what we had, or any instruction that others did not have the same privilege as we did; I grew up in such total naivete, that it still astonishes me, especially since my parents were first gen. Americans, lived through the "Great Depression" and two world wars. How could there not be gratitude??
I also remember being a few years older, pre-teen perhaps, watching television with my mother and my maternal grandmother, and my grandmother made a comment about the "number of Negroes (her word) on tv". Too many in her opinion. I still remember turning around to look at her, and at that moment, truly knew how narrow-minded she was, even hated her at the moment, not having the skills to understand that she just didn't know any better, as I wished desperately for another family.
This would have been mid 1960s. The representation of any minority on television was scarce at best.
How did I know that what she said was so morally and ethically wrong? I just did.I just did. My heart ached when she said it, and rejected it. I wasn't influenced by my family's prejudices and for that, I'm so grateful. They were all allies in me finding my voice, my own opinions; my own knowing about who we are to each other and how we can be connected.
I'm not sure I answered the question in the forum, and I know that this Game Changer Intensive is for me; to really explore my voice and how it shows up in leadership in the world. So, I express my gratitude to any one who reads this, and wants to reply. And if not, I know it's my journey, my work that shows up here, and that's really what matters in the end for any of us, isn't it?