These monthly essays --- this is the first --- are intended to be personal inward-looking 'reflections' on expanding our own racial consciousness in light of the five upcoming workshops with Dr. Nikkia Young.
It is a pleasure for me to see DDPI enthusiastically (if belatedly) embracing a member-wide shift to integrating anti-racism into our trainings, consultations, and client work. For me it is exciting to organizationally remove racism, along with a wider spectrum of privileged "otherings", such as assuming heteronormativity, able-bodiedness, and western cultural views on what defines attachment behaviors for all families.
Maine studies, 2006
Around 2006 a group of ten or eleven of us DDP fans were meeting regularly in Maine to advance our DDP skills. In those ancient days there were no Levels I or II, and we just considered it "advanced".
Eating and meeting, showing tapes and sometimes arguing passionately, it never came to consciousness to say, "You know we have done a DDP book, and will maybe start an institute, but we are all white in a white society privileged through racism. What does that mean for using our model in our work with people of color?".
Why did I not think and talk like that then? Perhaps fear that my colleagues might look at me like I had two heads. Perhaps fear of being seen as a problem for raising a conveniently muzzled issue. Perhaps a passive assumption that DDP therapists would/should leave racism defined as white spaces tend to define it -- as a personal problem.
In the summer of 2020, I attended an online anti-racist training for therapists. What I recall most vividly were the break-out rooms --- one for white participants (in the minority), and one for Black, Indigenous and People of Color [BIPOC].
Upon reconvening, each break-out room told of their experience. I reported for our white break-out room that we experienced cautious speaking, confusion about what to say, hesitation and silence.
Then the BIPOC break-out group described their time as one big loud celebration! To be free of white space even for just a few minutes was an unexpected, intersubjective experience of joy and relief!
That informed me viscerally. I felt torn up inside with sadness, perhaps despair, to see and feel what systemic racism does for whites --- silences our voices for change --- and to see what a relief it is for BIPOC folks to experience even a short breather.
I want DDP as an organization to back up, own its traditional, white-space privilege of silence on social justice issues, and sit with that, reflect on that, then begin moving forward.
I welcome, Dr. Nikkia Young!
Publisher: ddpnetwork.org (Feb 2021)