15 January 2013

Reading Mariechild Together: Breathing Gratitude

Today's reading is one of the most honest and straight-forward treatments of racism and intolerance of diversity that I have ever seen. I would like to hear from readers of this blog:

Does what Diane Mariechild says about how we have been taught to fear, hate and compete resonate with you?

What are other ways that power can be expressed, aside from the dominant/subordinate model so prevalent in our world?

Gloria Dean Randle Scott uses a metaphor: a great chain of inferiority. What does this mean to you?

Finally, Mariechild gives us another practice. (By the way: how are you doing with these practices? So far, she has offered suggestions on January 5 - a prayer; January 7 - self-affirmation; January 11 - imagination.)

Her idea is to imagine a gift from another culture..

breathe in and receive the gift...

breathe out and realize how the gift has enhanced your life...

breathe in gratitude...

fill with gratitude...

breathe out thankfulness.

I work a lot with the breath both for pain management and in my spiritual life. If it is new to you and you would like to know more about how it works, here are a few links to blog posts of mine and to information on the web.

From my blog: Beyond Theory and Discussion; Inhabiting Our Bodies.

From the web: a video; a website.

I would love to hear from you. Use the Comment box below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com. Thank you.


  1. Hmm...so much going on here. For me, it starts at the individual level. If I don't value the ways I myself am beautifully diverse from other people, I will not value the diversity of others. I think we are taught to assimilate, that is to fear and hate those parts of ourselves that are not "normal" and hide them. Oppressed groups are made to assimilate all the time on a much grander scale, but every one of us is taught and encouraged to assimilate those parts of ourselves that are not acceptable. It makes us want to keep others down, too.

    I just facilitated a discussion on race with about 20 participants (law students) last Friday. One participant, a white male, expressed his wish that hiring would be based solely on merit, and if that resulted in all white males being hired at all the best firms, he felt that was fine and fair. Several other participants challenged his statement, trying to get him to see the value in diversity. But no matter what they said, he didn't understand how anything but being the "best" (a very strict definition of the word) could be a desirable outcome. As a facilitator, I could not challenge him, so I listened deeply. What I saw was the calm of this man and the anger and frustration of the responders. I wondered where he got these opinions and where I got my own. I wondered about the immense amount of progress still to come. I wondered, how can we convince this man of the worth of diversity and the hollowness of his definition of "power".

    I have to be honest that I thought this mindfulness exercise was trite when I first read it. Did anyone else have that reaction? I understand and can see the beauty in it, too, but for some reason it just didn't sit well with me. As if I am only interested in another culture for what pleasure they can offer me. And it felt a little too close to stereotyping. Sorry for the pessimistic outlook! Was just my honest first reaction.

  2. Cristina -- a thoughtful and intricate response. Thank you.

    As I read your story about the group on racism, I think about what I have learned to call "white privilege." This man is sitting inside a fortress made of the benefits that have come to him merely due to an accident of birth (as a white male and, I assume, relative wealth) and that give him a confidence he doesn't even know he has. His view is terribly limited by the very things that make him do so well in the world he thinks should be "fair."

    I love your take on the exercise, which didn't do much for me, either, but that may be because we have spent time living with and learning to appreciate and love people very different than us. Perhaps it is a good exercise for those to whom the concept is new? Although who they may be, I do not know.