Let’s talk rather than assume

August 21, 2010

A white woman involved in anti-racist work told me about a national organization she thinks is doing great work on non-violent communication.  She noted that her only concern is that it is primarily white people who are involved with it.  The rationalization she used for that being the case raised some questions for me.

The rationalization was something like  “it might not be a priority to people who are concerned about more basic needs.”  That seems to infer that all people of color are only focused on food, shelter, and safety. Sounds like presumptuous stereotyping to me.  AND it lets the organization off the hook from asking people of color directly why they are not involved. Perhaps it’s because they simply don’t like or agree with the way it is structured or whether it is useful, particularly if it is based primarily on white norms.

I’m bothered that once again a white person/group is making assumptions about the actions of people of color without actually talking to them.  Such an approach just widens the gap between us.  Let’s talk to each rather than assume.

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