In our workshop this past Saturday, Michael Gonzalez told us that “dissociation is fundamental to racism,” meaning that racism is perpetuated when we assume we are self-contained individuals, rather than integrally connected to others (both the perpetrators and the victims of racial violence).
While most of us have a strong impulse to dissociate from a group when there is a negative aspect to it, but notice how we also have an impulse to identify with a group when there is a positive aspect to it. For example, when it comes to my favorite sports team (Liverpool Football Club), I easily say that “we” won the game. When people are talking about good things that our American ancestors did, you’ll often hear them say that “we” did those things.
But when it comes to bad things, like white supremacy or colonialism, we easily abandon identification with the group and instinctively dissociate: “That’s not me. I never owned slaves. I’m not racist.”
For further learning this week, and to prepare for our discussion groups,
- Read this short article by Dominique Gilliard on these dynamics: “When What Is Lawful Is Lethal“.
- Listen again to the sermon from this past Sunday, and at the end of the sermon, pay attention again to the “Woes” to white Christians, attempting again to listen not as an individual, but as a member of a group that has perpetuated violence and oppression. What do you notice in your body as you listen to the woes?
3. Spend some time this week noticing, in our culture AND in yourself, where you see this impulse to either identify with a group, or to dissociate from a group show up. This will be the question we’ll be discussing this coming Sunday and Tuesday in our groups.