Conditioning Check

Having lived and worked in Eugene and the surrounding area for 23 years, a recent phenomenon has captured attention. It seems white folk are having an interesting time of it these days, perhaps awakening from years of sleep.

And interesting, heartening things are happening, like extra compliments on my dreadlocks, a free loaf of bread from a local bakery, asking for hugs (maybe a pandemic is not the best time for that?), giving raised fistfuls of solidarity. And y’all go ahead and keep that up and don’t be discouraged if we look at you a bit strangely.

But don’t look for remedies on the outside. They won’t last. You need to examine your own conditioning. Not your friends, relatives, coworkers — but your own conditioning around bodies that have a different hue than your own. Have the intention of seeing the racially biased thinking and behavior in your own self through contemplation. But don’t waste too much energy judging or blaming yourself for that conditioning.

Observe and investigate your thinking from a distance, almost scientifically. You may find that the beliefs you unknowingly harbor, that appear to separate you from bodies of a different color, are only beliefs. But they are beliefs that are at the core of our society, so they are stubborn buggers. Your heart is opening wider. Allow it space without taking refuge in your old conditioning. 

Anyhow, good luck with everything. 

Cheryl Rivers Hailey

McKenzie Bridge

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