Colouring things in
12th April 2017
I am constantly amazed at how many people tell me that they are colour blind. They don’t see colour, therefore they don’t think that anyone else should see colour. Sadly they don’t see the problem that their blindness causes. They fail to see the injustices that are constantly committed and deny the microaggressions that people of colour live with, every day.
A doula organisation that I am currently a member of, are beginning to see that their apparent colour blindness is actually just blindness. However, within the membership, there are those that are standing up and admitting that they have begun the process of unpicking their privilege and that it hurts. Not many, but it has started and that is a good thing. Over the past couple of days, they are hearing that they need to stop trying to fix things and that they need to listen and to hear what is being and what has already been said.
‘Some of my best friends are black’
When things get uncomfortable, or when someone doesn’t want to be seen as wrong, in any way, they pull out a much known classic. ‘Some of my best friends…’, ‘I have been amongst different cultures, therefore…’, etc. Difficult, isn’t it? How much does the woman of colour need to say before she is heard? Is she not exhausted from the effort of the conversation? When will she speak and instead of justification, will she receive simple acknowledgement?
“You are not born racist. You are born into a racist society. And like anything else, if you can learn it, you can unlearn it. But some people choose not to unlearn it, because they’re afraid they’ll lose power if they share with other people. We are afraid of sharing power. That’s what it’s all about.“ – Jane Elliott
What we need, it would seem, is a safe space for people to talk and for others to listen. Listening is a skill. It is not merely remaining silent. It is about pausing and thinking. Is a response required? If so, what should it be? If the response to a spoken hurt is defense or a quick fix, perhaps we need to consider who exactly the response is for. Does it benefit the speaker, or the listener?
Cultural Competency is a set of behaviours, policies and attitudes that form a system that allows crosscultural groups to effectively work individually and within organisations where mutli-cultural situations are present. In changing the colour of the landscape, we need to be able to live and work effectively within it.
So that’s what I want. What do you want? Do you want to be able to reach into your community with cultural competence? Are you ready for the conversation and where it might lead? It’s time to colour things in. To look again at what truly is normal. Abuela Doulas is here for that very reason and we love women from all cultures and want to facilitate the conversation. Contact us here and come join us, as we welcome new life into our world and let’s change it, one birth and a host of birth keepers at a time.