Mindfulness and Strategies for Coping with Racialized Exclusion (Entry IV)
Welcome! You have found your way into the middle of a discussion of the experiences of people of color in primarily white meditation communities. To access the beginning of this thread, click here. Otherwise, please read on. I'll be publishing a theme a week from my dissertation research until all the themes are covered.
Strategies for Coping with Racialized Exclusion
The members of color whom I interviewed used three broad strategies to deal with experiences of racialized exclusion. They accommodated white ignorance, they avoided white ignorance, and they leaned on the POC sangha for support. Some used all three.
One participant described her accommodation of white ignorance this way:
This is the thing that probably a lot of black people will tell you, is you have to make [white] people feel comfortable to be around you. And so I have to go over and I have to smile and I have to say, 'How are you?' and make people feel comfortable about being around me when everybody else in the room looks like them and I'm the only person that is different.
Another described why she has not participated in the primarily white group, sticking instead to the affiliation group for people of color:
I have a little nervousness. In the POC Sangha there’s just so much unspoken understanding of what we share. You don’t have to fully explain everything. Like if I experience something at work and it's about race. If I bring it up in POC sangha, people get it. But I don't know that [White people at ECMC] will understand, and they might start questioning me about how I'm making assumptions. I just don't want to have to give the whole backstory.
For many people of color I interviewed the POC sangha was a safe place to come back to as they encountered racialized exclusion in the primarily white group. They often used the POC sangha as a place to explore their experiences and regroup before reentering white spaces.
For other themes, click on the links below.
- Interpersonal Barriers to Full Participation
- Institutional Barriers to Full Participation
- Strategies for Coping with Racialized Exclusion
- Range of POC Experiences
- Failures of Leadership Support for People of Color
- Promoting Equity and Inclusion