Privilege

more thoughts on the sins of my ancestors – a response to Skylark

Skylark — great questions you’re asking over on the ancestors’ sins thread! Sorry I’m slow to respond. Karissa and I are expecting our first child in the next week or two, and March 31 was the end of MCC’s fiscal year, which meant lots of extra bookkeeping work. Life just doesn’t seem to let up for blogging!

I think I miscommunicated in my “sins of the ancestors” post, and your response is helping me see how. The family research you’re doing is valuable (and by all means I’d encourage you to keep digging into it!), but I’m also talking about “ancestors” on the collective level. Individual family inheritance (of land, wealth, social connections) is one way that privilege (particularly class privilege) is perpetuated from generation to generation, but it’s not the only way. When I say “I benefit from the sins of my ancestors” I’m referring in part, but not solely, to my biological ancestors.

What do I mean by this? I grew up on fertile farmland in northern Indiana. Only a few miles from my parents’ house is the spot where used to stand Five Medals’ Potawatomi village. Five Medals (or Onaska) made peace with the United States in 1795 (Treaty of Greenville) and met with several presidents. Nevertheless, the US Army torched his people’s village and all their surrounding crops in 1812, and then again in 1813. In 1838 Menominee (leader of the last major Potawatomi settlement in northern Indiana) was “tied like a dog” and he and his people were force-marched to Kansas, a journey on which many of them died.

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Lancaster Conference Credentialed Leaders Respond to Recommendation Regarding the Ordination of Women

Good grief! I need to be studying, but I was sucked in by the latest poll (look to the right)[update 4.15.07 – click here for info about the poll]. Whoever put that up deserves a gold star!! Ever since I read the report about the ordination of women in the Lancaster Conference News last month I have been thinking about posting something about this (Katie already did). I’ve copied the relevant report below from the February 2007 issue. I think the poll speaks for itself; its commentary is more poignant than any I could muster. (more…)

Ain’t I a Woman?

I ain’t actually, but Sojourner Truth was. I copied this from the Modern History Sourcebook.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? (more…)

blog against sexism day

That’s right. Today is not only International Women’s Day, but Blog Against Sexism Day – and it’s not over yet, so I can still slip in under the wire, because do you know how awful it would be to blog against sexism on the wrong day? That’s right, if we went off blogging about sexism more than one day of the year, women would start to feel like they “deserved to have equal rights” (Thanks Conservapedia! (via Twisty Faster)).

There are actually many women out there already blogging about this much better than I will. Here are links to just a few of them:

If it hasn’t been mentioned before, Shrub has a very good primer on privilege for men. There are also some great posts from a few good men out there. Please link to more blogs by men or women in the comments. Link it up against sexism!

I’ve been thinking lately about my position of privilege – the first tenet of which is “I don’t have to care or even notice that my privilege exists, so please don’t bring it up or I’ll get defensive.” It’s the first part that I’ve been thinking about, because not getting defensive (not reacting negatively) is much easier than acting positively in the first place. And it’s not radical to boot. No golden stars for that. (more…)

Surrender

“We cannot rest content in ourselves. In the elements and experiences of our life, to which we give meaning, we do not find satisfying light and protective security. We only find these things in the intangible mystery that overshadows our heart from the first day of our lives, awakening questions and wonderment and luring us beyond ourselves. We surrender ourselves to this mystery, as a person in love surrenders to the mystery of the beloved and there finds rest. We are creatures whose being is sheltered and protected only insofar as we open ourselves up to intangible, greater realities. We are at peace in the open, unconquered precincts of mystery.”

~Johannes Baptist Metz, “Poverty of Spirit”