This season of Lent our theme is “We are turning.” Lent, this season of spring, serves as a time of reorientation, of turning back to God.  Repentance is a part of that, as it reframing, reimagining, refocusing, and simply turning around to get a new view. Each Wednesday in Lent we are blessed by hearing stories from members about a “turning” experience from their life, a time when they have seen things in a new way or discovered God right in the midst of things. May you be blessed by these stories and may they get you thinking about your own stories of “turning.” -In Peace, Pastor Ruth

Turning Toward Intercultural Competence, Barb Burkhardt

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost and now I’m found; was blind but now I see.”

In White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, author Peggy McIntosh (2009) challenges our perception of privilege.  She states we tend to think about our privilege as a favored state, either earned or bestowed through birth or luck.  Furthermore, reflecting on conditions we as white people count on reveals that privilege works to systemically grant power because of race.

Prior to May 2020, it was very difficult for me to address my own white privilege.  I operated from the space where privilege was earned; from immigrants, homesteaders, the Great Depression, and World War II veterans.  Acknowledging white privilege felt disrespectful to my parents and all the hardships they endured to raise a family in rural Upper Michigan.  After May 2020, however, things turned.  Watching the video of George Floyd’s neck being pressed into the pavement by the knee of a white police officer changed me.  

McIntosh (2009) speaks to how “unearned privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or to dominate.”  Was I using my white privilege to avoid responsibility?  Was my white privilege hurting people I love and care about?  What will I do with this new consciousness, this knowledge of the perks of being white?  How can I use my unearned advantages to address the imbalance of power?  How can I use my unearned advantages to address systemic racism?  

I have set an intention to build a culturally responsive teaching practice.  A culturally responsive practice requires teachers to take emotional risks toward an awareness of unconscious biases to challenge the deficit thinking paradigm regarding culturally and linguistically diverse families.

Many yoga teachers invite you to set an intention for your practice as they begin their classes:  intentions to sweat, strengthen your core, or to work out at least three times a week.  Intentions are different than goals.  Goals are attached to expectations or evaluations.  Intentions, on the other hand, are ways you want to align your life; an aim, a purpose, or an attitude (Eisler, 2014).  

The act of committing your intention primes your brain and activates your will.  Just as philosopher Lao Tzu said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, becoming an effective culturally responsive teacher is a life-long journey (Hammond, 2015).