The Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids Inclusion Team exists to foster growth and transformation that creates, supports, and sustains a diverse, inclusive, and racially equitable culture on the Marywood campus.
This is not easy work, nor do we approach it lightly. We challenge ourselves to engage in the work of anti-racism. And we seek ways to share our learning with others at Marywood.
Periodically we share resources from our discussions and invite you to consider them for personal reflection.
Sister Mary Kay Oosdyke, OP, offers this reflection, continuing our series examining some of the characteristics of white supremacy culture.
The Right to Comfort and the Fear of Conflict
Most of us want to be comfortable in conversation. We try to avoid conflict as much as we can. We don’t like disagreement, think it’s bad, and fear results. Our reaction to conflict is revealing when we find ourselves feeling defensive. To understand the discomfort, ask yourself “what am I defending?”
To engage with people who raise difficult issues or oppose our viewpoint often results in conflict. Perspectives, ideas, and even facts may differ greatly. Seekers of truth and equity will begin with a question and will follow with attentive listening to gain insight. Initially most questions, have multiple answers. Past experiences, situations, and little-known facts may be revealed.
We tend to want instant answers. We do not readily relinquish our viewpoint. Both are barriers to an important question faced today: “How do we change our racist culture?” Resolving difference regarding values of equity, justice, or security, needs extended engagement.
Such conversations are like making bread, the staple of life. The process involves “sifting,” breaking down hard lumps into fine powder, followed by “kneading” which takes strength, feeling for the dough’s readiness, and ultimately, “baking” in a heated oven to produce fresh bread.
Too many systems created within and sustained by a white supremacy culture negatively impact people of color. Change requires graced understanding and passionate bread-making conversations.
Links for additional learning
Right to Comfort, Fear of Conflict
No Right to Comfort
Intention vs Impact (several short videos)