An Immigrant’s Perspective on White Privilege and Cultural Bias

Here is a picture of me, age 21, at a market near San Diego

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 […]

2021-11-11T22:11:37+00:00March 5th, 2021|Culture, Social Change, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Reflections on Racism and the Possibility of Social Healing

Reflections on Racism

Recently I attended a ‘dialogue on race’ which my friend and colleague Ronita Johnson hosted. Somewhat by surprise, it led me to reflect on how my understanding and experience with racism, as someone born and raised in Germany, might be quite different from those who were born and raised here in the Unites States.

Many participants, both people of color and white people, shared stories of their earliest experience of racism. We also talked about American slavery, the current presidential elections, black pride, the police shootings, and other injustices that African Americans experience. We discussed the notion of race as an anthropological construction and racism as a symptom of a power system that is rigged toward the advantages of a few.

I walked away from this dialogue feeling quite stirred up and touched by the often heart-wrenching personal stories that were shared. “Is racism really about color, or is it about maintaining structural inequality so that a few can profit?” Questions are like doorways and guides for learning; I […]

2019-01-30T12:04:25+00:00August 17th, 2016|Culture, Dialogue, Social Change|2 Comments

Gisela Wendling Welcomed at The Grove Consultants International

This brief article about my work at The Grove Consultants International was published in their Winter 2015 Journal. The Grove’s renewed focus on organizational and social change has been met with an exciting amount of interest and projects, including organization change and multi-stakeholder projects. Our increased focus on The Grove’s Learning and Exchange Network is generating a variety of new public offerings here in the US, Europe and Asia.

Introducing Gisela Wendling, PhD, The Grove’s New Director of Global Learning

By The Grove 

Gisela Wendling, Ph.D., joined The Grove in June 2014 as a new senior consultant and Director of Global Learning. She brings to The Grove a fine-tuned mindset and deep experience in organization change. Gisela describes transformative change as a process occurring over time, with distinct phases and a momentum that, if guided well, can overcome obstacles and resistance.

New Grove Intensive: “Designing and Leading Change”

At The Grove we are finding a growing need for organization and culture change work. Getting long-term results involves dedicated effort over time and significant shifts in values, focus and ways of working.

One of The Grove’s new workshop offerings to address this need […]

2019-01-29T16:43:04+00:00February 21st, 2015|Change, Multi-Stakeholder, Social Change|2 Comments

Change Fluency

Change is an increasingly pervasive phenomenon. In this global world we cross increasingly more boundaries, cultures and belief system. We have expanded our sense of freedom and exponentially increased the range of choices we have. At the same time many of us have become disconnected from a sense of belonging to place, community, and the organizations we work for. The complexity and ambiguity created by these conditions are obscuring the path and patterns of change contributing to increasingly more change processes being interrupted, neglected and even abandoned.

The sociologist Arpad Szakolczai captures the impact that the pervasive presence of continuous change has on us in the following way: “Human life is not possible and worth living without some degree of stability, meaning and sense of home. Liminality [the transformative phase in a transition process] is indeed a source of renewal, a restoration of meaning and the pouring of fresh wine into an old bottle. But if there are no proper “bottles”, the fermenting power is diluted and lost. If everything is constantly changing, then things always remain the same.” (Reflexive Historical Sociology, 2000)

All of us, especially those who are responsible for leading […]

2018-09-20T20:10:39+00:00February 10th, 2013|Change, Research|0 Comments