Spiritual white women: burying your head in the sand is hurting not healing

Images by Jahannes Krupins on Unsplash

Something I hear often from other white women, particularly in the spiritual or healing space, is that they don’t follow news or politics. The reasons they cite are various — feeling upset or scared by what they see happening in the world, not enough time or a feeling of not wanting to engage in “negativity”. While it’s certainly understandable to feel overwhelmed, you also need to understand that the decision to “check out” of what’s happening is not neutral — in fact, your privilege is what makes it possible.

When you live in a bubble, choosing whether to be aware of what’s happening in the world is optional. Our culture is structured to value white people more and protect them at all costs, so your survival isn’t dependent on knowing what’s going on and people you know personally may not be affected. You get to decide if you want to educate yourself about the oppressive system that’s benefitting you or just turn a blind eye.

You have the option of opting out of a difficult conversation about privilege because it’s uncomfortable or because you “don’t like to get political”. You can choose to not see the unpleasant, brutal and dehumanizing experience of others because it doesn’t happen to people who look like you. As a white woman, you have the option of hiding behind your fragility and being too delicate to deal with difficult things.

Refusing to see what is happening and neglecting to use your privilege to address injustice comes at the expense of others. There is no neutrality when it comes to racism and systemic oppression. Racism is for white people by white people. Even if you’ve never acted in a racist way or even had a racist thought, you’re still living in a society that values you for the color of your skin and benefits you accordingly. The fact that you have the choice to ignore this choice comes from your position of privilege and power, whether or not you acknowledge it.

Why am I specifically addressing white women here? Because, as a fellow white woman, I’m hearing from colleagues, friends and clients that you’re ready to do this work at last. And I know that if you don’t (really, truly) engage with it now, this moment may pass like so many others. Sending “love and light” is not enough. Focusing only inward and insulating ourselves with privilege is not “heart centered”. Dismantling white supremacy is a spiritual mandate. And we’re running out of time to save our humanity.

I understand if you feel helpless and overwhelmed when you look at what’s happening in the world — there are scary and overwhelming things happening, but most of them are not new. I’m not saying you should spend all your time going down the rabbit hole of 24/7 news coverage. Taking care of yourself is important but so is taking action. I’m advocating for sustainable steps to stay informed, look inward, learn and take meaningful action.

Handwringing is not effective.

Scrolling through social media and posting platitudes isn’t helping anyone. Performing activism so you look like “one of the good ones” is for yourself and it won’t change anything. Instead, amplify the voices of people of color and listen to what they are saying.

Educate yourself.

Identify trustworthy news sources (ideally at least one local) and set specific time to look at them. Don’t turn away from the stories about injustice. Take steps to start educating yourself about white privilege and anti-racism work.

Research and identify action steps.

Find out who your political representatives are and what they stand for. Look up statistics on policing in your area. Learn about injustice in your community or communities near you. Vote.

Look for organizations that you can support, preferable led by people of marginalized identities. What do they need? Is it money? Volunteers? Supplies? Identify how you can support them and make your support ongoing.

Educating ourselves can bring us closer with our communities. Taking concrete steps toward fighting injustice empowers us more than hiding and trying not to see. The world needs your courage, as well as your love and light.

feminist life coach, shame resilience teacher, justice advocate, cocktail queen and cat lover. jenpavich.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store