26 Responses

  1. Loretta Saint-Louis
    Loretta Saint-Louis April 15, 2013 at 9:15 AM |

    Christena, this is powerful. I have never heard anyone speak to this before. Thank you. Sometimes it takes everything in me to stay present — and is exhausting. Those times feel like sacred moments — times when just listening is a God-given assignment. And I call on God for strength. The hardest moments have been when the torrents of anger have been triggered by something stupid that I have done or said. The feedback comes as a God-given invitation to reflect and grow. Sometimes I have been very surprised at what I find in me and need to weed out. Prejudice has very deep taproots. Personal change and culture change take work.

  2. Katelin
    Katelin April 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM |

    How are you so amazing at articulate these truths so well!?! I want to be like you when I grow up!!

  3. Mike Friesen
    Mike Friesen April 15, 2013 at 11:38 AM |

    Great stuff Christena,
    Adam Phillips wrote some great stuff on frustration. He said that frustration has two paths.

    The first path is that is that we use frustration to kill desire. The first is through the inability to hold onto it. We seek to destroy it through hedonistic pursuits by learning to kill our urges (this is very Freudian). Or, if we hold onto it to long, our frustration kills our desires all together by teaching us not to want and desire anymore.

    The second path is learning to hold onto the frustration and learn from it. In learning from it, we can actually discern what we desire. In the frustration of injustice, we can learn what we want to do and how we want to do it.

    I wonder if the anger of the individuals comes out in one of these two ways. Either by becoming a victim, or by seeking revenge (the destroying path). Or, in the second path, holding onto it, we can learn that we long for justice and reconciliation.

  4. danielgroot
    danielgroot April 15, 2013 at 8:47 PM |

    This was a very challenging post, it lays out what truly listening, and displacing yourself as a privileged person requires! I will hold onto these points.

    I was surprised by one small point you made. In your paragraph on ‘soapboxes’ you ended the paragraph saying, “sorry folks, you cannot be a prophet and an oppressor at the same time.” In the context of that paragraph I do agree, however I think that statement needlessly dichotomizes people into two groups (oppressors and the oppressed). The reality is, most of us are oppressors, in some way. Having worked in urban poor neighborhoods around the world I’d be the first to say that people (in their sin) often oppress those they have power over, even as they are being oppressed by those that have power over them. And in my own multi-ethnic heritage I can count both oppressors and oppressed in my story and have to grapple with the realities of both. Also, within the span of a few paragraphs you readily identified yourself as both the privileged and the oppressed and (appropriately) I still see your truly prophetic voice!

    I believe that the people who often are given voice need to learn to be silent and to stay engaged, but it can needlessly shut down true dialogue when we forever relegate ‘oppressors’ to silence.

    I hope my point makes sense!

  5. Loretta Saint-Louis
    Loretta Saint-Louis April 15, 2013 at 9:49 PM |

    It makes a lot of sense to me!

  6. “Listening well as a person of privilege: Seek to… | The Richard W. Hendricks Experience

    [...] “Listening well as a person of privilege: Seek to understand and embrace anger” • christenacleveland.com/2013/04/listen… [...]

  7. Naomi
    Naomi April 15, 2013 at 10:05 PM |

    Thank you for this. I have shared it with my networks. It’s such an important conversation and a good reminder for us all.

  8. Jeff Kursonis
    Jeff Kursonis April 15, 2013 at 10:15 PM |

    Wow, thank you so much for these posts. You have such a skill to see deeply into these things and communicate them clearly. With your background (I saw your video) it seems you have really been set up to be a powerful peacemaker in our world. So glad to have found you.

    I recently read a research paper by Ilana Shapiro from the Aspen Institute in DC called Training for Racial Equity and Inclusion: A Guide to Selected Programs, in which they look at a number of different training programs coming from different perspectives. I wonder if you’ve seen that and would like to comment in a post or private message. I’m sure there’s a need for a diversity of approaches, but seeing as I like how you think, I’d love to hear your perspective. If you haven’t seen it you can download the pdf pretty easily online. Thanks!

  9. Ray Rosentrater
    Ray Rosentrater April 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM |
  10. Ray Rosentrater
    Ray Rosentrater April 16, 2013 at 4:05 PM |

    We have difficulty hearing a voice until we find a way to make it conform to our expectations. In so filtering, we loose important content.

  11. Diane Miller
    Diane Miller April 16, 2013 at 7:37 PM |

    Christena, the other person who teaches on this subject in an amazing way is Dr. Carl Ellis. He lays out Justice & Systemic Injustice in a picture window format and the visual is helpful & powerful.

  12. pmasthewitt
    pmasthewitt April 17, 2013 at 12:05 PM |

    I really appreciate this series. I’ve been following from the beginning and these have really shone a light on the dark areas and helped me think through my part in reconciliation.

  13. Listening Well as a Person of Privilege – the complete series

    [...] Seek to understand and embrace anger Only a cheap, self-centered reconciliation seeks to avoid the anger of the oppressed. Privileged [...]

  14. Must Reads!
    Must Reads! May 17, 2013 at 10:51 AM |

    [...] Shared emotion is a powerful unifying force. If privileged folks sought to empathize with and embrac… [...]

  15. Must Reads!
    Must Reads! June 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM |

    [...] Sorry folks – you can’t be a prophet and an oppressor at the same time. [...]

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