Becoming a minister in an African American denomination made me extremely sensitive to how we as humans see one another. I honestly did it in part to challenge white friends and colleagues whose routine racism and ethnocentrism I was tired of hearing. I want there in part for that reason, but I re-discovered my own soul in the process.
The idea of centrism is something a lot of people don't think about at all....Afro-centrism is a totally different LENS from Euro-centrism, from Sino-centrism etc. We live in a Eurocentric country, and so most people who cross over into a different world are subject to projection (another film term!!)
What this means is that you project your way of seeing the world onto whoever you are viewing...So a Eurocentric person or cultural lens says that people of color are...fill in the blanks...you know the stereotypes... It is a huge challenge to even educate Eurocentric Americans to care about other possible ways of looking at the world. Trust me on this one!
Body type, gender roles, worship styles, styles of expressiveness, deepest values about individual vs collective cultural norms are all DIFFERENT in different cultures. I REALLY discovered this in attempting to lead any truly transcultural churches...forget the denominations...it is the race and culture factor that predominates, and the POV of the family of origin almost always wins.
As part of an exercise at a session of Leadership Long Beach the other day, various points of presumed "Identity" were placed around the room...Race, Class, Ability status, Age, Religion etc...and people were asked to go to the sheet with which they identify in a certain element of their life. I was so interested to realize that while at one point in my life I might have chosen one or another, I say "might" because i really don't know, I related to none of the "definitions" that were presented as IDENTITY...which is how the question was posed. This has to do with a SPIRITUAL perspective, and many years of lifting of ones consciousness above the definitions society imposes...
It is CRITICAL for people to understand that "It is not who you call me, but what I answer to that counts" And this has to do with what we call OURSELVES, yes?
Your subconscious mind hears everything you tell it, and it has NO SENSE OF HUMOR. Don't answer to anyone's definition of you if it doesn't fit YOUR definition of you.
Identity is a BIG DEAL....HUGE.
So who do YOU say you are? And as you contemplate that...Ask yourself where you got that idea...Parents? Teachers? Media?
Who YOU say you are is what counts.
Here's lookin' at cha:)
Love, Jane firstname.lastname@example.org www.tribealive.org