Dear Ms. Allen
I, too, am a woman of color (African American), and a fan as well of "On Being." In fact, I have been listening to Krista Tippett's show before it was changed to "On Being." I write to commend you on your magnificent response to Dr. Brené Brown's conversation with Ms. Tippett about shame and vulnerability and how these concepts should be understood relative to the lives of people of color. It is the overlooking or "benign negligence" in including the lives and experiences of people of color in these discussions that brings into high relief the prevailing truth that we still have a lot of work to do in racial matters; we have not yet overcome and we have not yet moved into a "post-racial" neighborhood. Your well-wrought points about how the struggle with shame and vulnerability stand is an ongoing and difficult one resonated deeply for me as an African American and Christian woman. There is no useful blueprint or set of guidelines for people such as myself who must try on their own to reconcile religious teachings with the attitudes of a still-dominant white culture that either tacitly or openly declares that people of color have every reason to be feel shame and to be vulnerable. Your citing of the term "microaggressions," one which I encountered in the book "Whistling Vivaldi, was also significant, in that it powerfully underscores the pernicious tyranny of subtle racism. The radar of people of color, I would argue (and I think you would agree), is always in the "up" position; we never feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable because we are already vulnerable. At the same time, white people are loath to relinquish their need to have power and control for fear of being vulnerable to the people of color whom they continue to hold in varying degrees of contempt. Only when they can confront this truth will there be any possibility for both groups to interact without fear, guilt or shame and to give full expression to their humanity.
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