An Immigrant’s Perspective on White Privilege and Cultural Bias

Confronting racism and all of its expressions as an active process in our lives is long overdue. I have found that my early experiences of growing up in Germany in the ’60s and ’70s and then immigrating to the United States in the ’80s, put me at a different entry point in this exploration than many who have grown up here. I hope that sharing the following glimpses into my early experiences as an immigrant highlights how subtle and often insidious the undercurrents of racism, white privilege, and cultural bias can be. And, perhaps, these might trigger your own reflections of early encounters that have shaped the way you perceive or misperceive or advantage or disadvantage those who fall into categories of the generalized others.

I was prompted to think about all of this again recently when I was backpacking near the Anza Borrego Desert in Southern California, which I had visited numerous times in the late ’80s just after I arrived in the U.S. In my return to this desert, I reflected on earlier days when I first came to understand what it means to live a life as an immigrant in between cultures with few resources, feeling the […]

2021-03-05T05:14:58+00:00March 5th, 2021|Culture, Social Change, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Communitas: Hope and Belonging in the Midst of Disruption

“The pandemic and current social uprising changes everything we see, everything we write, and everything we read.”
Jane Hirshfield, Poet


Point of Departure

It is likely that the pandemic and its aftermath may constitute a point of departure from the way we have lived to a future that is very different from where we seemed to be heading just a few months ago. While many of us continue to be “sheltered” at home or work, whatever bubble of protection we feel is likely to dissipate. In times like this, when things fall apart, and a new direction is not really clear, a sense of intense community spirit can arise among those who find themselves traversing the turbulence of change together. This shared sense of community spirit is referred to as “communitas” by anthropologists and other social scientists. It is full of intense relatedness, aliveness and feeling. Especially now, when the prevailing feeling of uncertainty and instability is so pervasive, appreciating communitas can give us insight and hope.