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  • Writer's pictureNancy Willbern, PhD

Waking Up

(Marketing image for the course by this name created by Brownicity)

Ever since the murder of George Floyd and the outpouring of reactions to it, I have taken my unconscious assumptions about race to heart. I am on Week 2 of an online class to learn as much as I can about how I have contributed to a White-biased culture. This series, spear-headed by Dr. Lucretia Berry is called What Lies Between Us and is offered by a consciousness-raising educational group Dr. Berry co-founded with her husband, Nathan Berry called Brownicity. I cannot recommend it more highly. So much has already been exposed about mass illusions that have been perpetuated by the system we are all swimming in.

It's so hard to understand how so many of us could remain so asleep for so long, who couldn't see what was right in front of us. I am shocked at myself! It might help to hear about a study done back in the day with two litters of kittens. One litter was raised in a room painted with vertical black and white stripes. The other was raised in a room painted with horizontal black and white stipes. When the kittens were gown, they were released out into the normal world - no more painted stripes. Amazingly enough, the kittens raised with vertical stripes, literally could not see anything that ran horizontally. They kept bumping their heads on the foot-rails of chairs. And conversely, the kittens raised with horizontal stripes kept running into the wooden legs. We have all been conditioned by our external environments, but thank God, as humans when that conditioning gets exposed, we can choose to see more around us. This class is graciously aware of the inherent, unrecognized biases in our culture. The point is not to shame, but simply to awaken through education, connection and dialogue.

(Marketing image for the documentary by this name - California Newsreel.)

One of the important features of the series is the showing of the three-part documentary called Race: the Power of an Illusion. The film was co-created by California Newsreel and Professor John A. Powell, from UT Berkley. The film series is both thoughtful and powerful. Each segment cracks open long-cherished ideologies held in the mind and the heart. Please watch it, even if you don't join What Lies Betwen Us.

Although much of this learning experience is wrenchingly painful, I can't tell you how glad I am to have finally opened a door that I didn't even know was there. Now that I know it is there, I can't keep it hidden anymore. And, I don't want to. This recognition both scares me and excites me.


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