I’ve run into a new form of… I don’t know whether to call it spiritual bypassing, privilege, or unconscious bigotry. I’ve been chewing on it a bit and trying to find the right words. There has been a trend, especially in the last 10 years, for members of a marginalized group, when creating workshops, to make those workshops primarily for their own group. This is done by making the workshop available at a lower cost to their immediate audience, or having a rule that the target group gets to speak first, and/or the more privileged folx sit outside the inner circle.
Let me be clear. THIS is not the problem. This is a solution, and a pathway to a solution. If a group of people has been unheard (1), why not give them primary voice in order to allow them the space to use their voices? If a group has historically had less access (2)(3) to things like education, safe space, and importance in the eyes of society (4)(5), why not give them a central place? And if these ideas bring more privileged groups up short, it is possible that their indignation will become thoughtfulness(6), and they will take up the opportunity for self examination and expanded awareness. Maybe not, but we can bring the horse to water.
What causes me consternation is the argument that some people in the spiritual community have used against this practice:
It’s a non-issue. If I am on a path of spiritual evolution, and I’d like to think I am, I feel I should be working toward dismantling oppressive structures, like patriarchy, colonialism, racism, sexism, abilism, transphobia, ageism, homophobia, and the like. That process involves balancing out opportunities so there is equity, normalizing awareness and intersectionality, and using my privilege to hand others the microphone so their voices can be heard. I need to change things NOW, in this lifetime. As far as this goes, it doesn’t matter what anyone experienced in a different lifetime. I am here now. You are here now. The opportunity to make the word a better place is now.