Can I complicate this?
In the name of “You don’t know, until you know.” I need you to know…
You take up a lot of space.
You dominate the conversation.
It’s not entirely your fault. You’ve had me, and countless other white women along the way, coddle you through this. Holding space for you. Constantly. Never speaking up. Or interjecting. Or speaking over you. Nope. We just smile. Nod. And smile some more. Giving you the false sense that everything you say is incredible and important. If there is a moment to add, we certainly do try, but often we pass it back to you. Or you take the opportunity away quickly with more.
I’m going to ask you to get curious…
Why is it that you believe that everyone is captivated by what you have to say?
Why is it that you believe that everyone wants to hear every word that streams through your head?
Why is it that you believe that you should be the center of attention?
That conversations cannot go on or be interesting without you?
Misogyny. Patriarchy. Toxic Masculinity. White supremacy. Whiteness.
White Supremacy culture. Hint: Paternalism, Power hoarding, Individualism, Objectivity, Right to comfort (Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun).
We are drowning in it. You are most definitely impacted by it.
You’ve been conditioned to believe this. To live by this. You’ve learned this from your fathers, and their fathers and the founding fathers.
There is not a beautifully packaged with a bow way to say this. Fuck that Bullshit.
The fact that you say you don’t know, is what is truly the most infuriating part about this. Is it that you don’t know? Or that you don’t want to look at this part of you? That you are afraid of letting go of control, power, and relevancy. You are afraid to connect to your heart. Your authentic self. Your vulnerability. And truly seek and listen to understand that your experience in this world is unlike anyone else. To be a white, cis, male in this country holds an immense amount of power, that you have been misusing for centuries. And yes, you can be a good person and still be doing this day in and day out.
Pssst. You’re jokes really aren’t that funny. And your “facts” really aren’t that interesting. The experiences you’ve had aren’t that impressive. It’s actually all quite boring and predictable.
How does that land on you?
I’m going to ask you to get curious about what is coming up for you in the moment. Where do you feel it in your body? Are you able to receive the information, or are you moving into a predictable stance of disconnection, defense and insistence on no mal intent?
You know what is Impressive? Authenticity. Showing up in a way where you step back and listen. Where you ask questions. Where you can hold space for all feelings. Where you can listen, without trying to fix. Where you listen and believe what is being shared. Where you listen and own the impact someone is sharing with you. Where you humbly receive the information, swallow the BUT, and respond with, “What I heard you say…, did I get that right?…Is there more?” Where you can anticipate needs and share in emotional labor. Where you can show up in humility and curiosity.
That is true power.
I humbly ask that starting now. You start reflecting on your beliefs, intentions and approach to every conversation you are a part of.
Time yourself. Take note of how often you interject. Notice if/when you get excited when someone volleys you a question you can answer or when you just go off on a tangent. For 10. 15. 20 minutes…Take a survey of the room. Of the group. Who is there? Who isn’t? What are the patterns of conversation? Who dominates? Who doesn’t say a word? Why is that?
I respectfully ask that you look into the beauty of tell me more. Of open ended questions. And instead of listening to interject and speak next. Ask a question to deepen the conversation and give someone else a chance. If you have women in your life. Let them speak the most. Especially if they are women of color. Ask them questions…How does that make you feel? How does that land on you? What is that like? What can I do? What do you need? What I heard you say…Did I get that right? Is there more? Tell me more. Please. I’m listening. I’m here. I see you. I hear you. I’m deeply listening. Only listening.
Let me know the response you get.
And continue to remain in curiosity. What is coming up for you after reading this? How you may be wanting this information in a different way (tone policing)? Dismissing and disbelieving what I have shared.
Maren J Miller
I am passionate, driven and committed to the work of racial and educational equity, as well as critical self development and healing. I want to empower humans to be conscious, reflective, change makers — towards greater self awareness, self trust, inner knowing and healing. I work with individuals, schools and organizations that have the will to look inward and view the world through a critical and restorative racial lens. For the betterment of self, but also for the greater good of all.
I am a coach/trainer/facilitator, reiki practitioner, podcaster and artist.
“May the residue of love remain with you and seep into your being always and forever.”