One of the things I come across time and time again in social justice circles is this need to shame folks when they make tone-depth or unconsciously-biased comments. Especially when these comments come from folks who brand themselves or who have been branded as conscious beings. It’s understandable to respond to someone who is making incorrect, inaccurate or lacking-in-historical-context statements with facts, context and constructive criticism. That can lead to meaningful and enlightening engagement.
But what I’ve been noticing is that when conscious folks reveal their blind spots, we’ve been quick to dismiss them as non-conscious beings and go so far as to make personal attacks on their character, calling them sellouts, devils, imposters, or the very things they intend on and commit to standing against (e.g. racists, sexists, homophobes, some kind of bigot).
Look, I understand it can be annoying, frustrating or even infuriating when “conscious” folks say things that seem inconsistent with what they’re supposed to be about or that fail to acknowledge the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality or groups of people existing in society. It is painful and triggering to be overlooked and undermined especially when there’s a legacy of it. The first thing we want to do is speak out, express that we are here and that we matter, make our presence and humanity felt. We feel the strong need, of course, to be seen and be heard.
But we can do that in a way that makes room for meaningful connection, rather than perpetuating and participating in the game of shame. The fact is, everyone has blind spots. As long as we see each other solely as a separate “other,” and experience our lives in that way, we will have no real understanding of what that “other” experiences. What’s more, we make assumptions, judgments on that “other.” This leads to and sustains blind spots.
While I fundamentally see myself as a spiritual being having a human experience, my human experience informs an identity of an educated, financially-comfortable, able-bodied, culturally Christian, heterosexual Afro-indigenous cis Latina from the Bronx. Although I strive to be inclusive, my worldview as the identity derived from that experience can certainly lead to my overlooking or excluding identities that are not akin to mine and not aligned with or accepted by the dominant culture, which I’ve internalized.
For example, by listening or reading commentary from and engaging with the LBGTQ community, I’ve become mindful of my heteronormative blind spots.
Or, even though one of my dearest friends is Muslim, I haven’t until recently set an intention to be aware of important Muslim holidays to send her greetings like I would loved ones who are celebrating Christmas or New Year’s Day. Having known her for nearly 25 years as a Muslim whose faith is central in her life as well as my identifying as a conscious being, one would think I’d be on it a long time ago.
But here’s the thing. We can point out blind spots, but shaming people for them goes against the mission. Shame is rife with judgment and judgment separates us. How can we evolve into a more conscious, expansive, harmonious and just world if we use a tool for separation? Would I be aligned with the mission if I miscast myself as a homophobe or intolerant of Islam?
Or is becoming aware of those blind spots with the intention and practice of moving beyond them the wisest and most powerful way? Acknowledging we all have blind spots and remembering our mission allows us to inject grace into a disagreeable experience and get back in alignment with our intentions, values and commitment to conscious evolution.
Yes, it’s important to catch blind spots, in others and in ourselves. But what’s more important is how we address those blind spots for when we do so with grace, we generate enlightenment that’s essential to our vision.