Why Rufus Woods chose to participate in the Living Into Inclusivity dialogues
I am excited and a bit anxious about being part of this group of well-intentioned and very white group in exploring what it means to be white, what Blacks, people of color and Indigenous People experience and also how our society “otherizes” people (women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, people who are incarcerated, etc.) This will not be easy or comfortable. Far from it.
I see this group as an important opportunity to uncover my own biases and the ways in which I have benefited from my position as a wealthy white, male, heterosexual individual in a society and a system dominated by wealthy white, male and heterosexual individuals. I want to better understand the ways in which I habitually stereotype people and seek to be more conscious and act with courage and conviction to be a more constructive force in the community — and help break down barriers that keep people from a sense of kinship and belonging here.
I have become much more aware of the inequities in our society in recent years, brought to a head nationally with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I am becoming aware of my own biases and the way in which I have failed to stand up for those who are “otherized” in our society. I realize individual actions do not tell the whole story of racism, sexism, etc. A focus on individual racism, etc. leaves out the ways in which our society has been structured around the priorities of the dominant culture (white, male, heterosexual and wealthy) to the detriment of people not in those categories. Structurally racist policies in our society are apparent if one wishes to look deep enough.
I am convinced that we need to heal the wounds that afflict our society when it comes to how marginalized people are treated and to do so we must first acknowledge and articulate the specific ways in which our system benefits some to the detriment of others. This will be highly uncomfortable for me and many others who choose to undertake this journey.
I wish to do what I can in my capacity to dismantle the ways in which our system discriminates either overtly or covertly. Furthermore, I seek to be intimately conscious of my own biases and seek to counteract those habits and tendencies.
I believe human beings share a common bond of kinship. We need each other in spite of and because of all of our messiness, inconsistencies, failings and foibles.