Wishing I called in, called forward a beloved teacher of mine the moment I felt unease when she shared a particular example/story involving a conflict style she uses when in the presence of police and/or those in authoritative positions. The example shared affected a dear friend of mine who decided to discontinue her sessions.
Offhandedly, playfully our teacher joked about how she tends to go into confrontation/controller style when in the presence of police/authority thus she laughed and shared that she tended to stay away from protests for this reason knowing she may get in trouble.
My first thought was holy shit her playfulness doesn’t seem so endearing as usual. In this moment her beautiful playful quality seems superficial/ offhand/dismissive of the privilege she holds; unaware of the folks in the space and in particular unaware of the only (I believe) visibly Black man in that space; my friend.
I wish I could have chosen that same conflict style (controller/assertive/speaking straight) and spoke to the privilege of her example. I could have done this skilfully, mindfully, with humour. Ie. I could have said seems to me this might be exactly where we need to be as white bodied folks who hold power and possess conflict resolution skills knowing we most likely will not be beaten, imprisoned, and/ or murdered by police when embodying the controller conflict style.
Even in the most confident times, in large groups, online, as a participant I tend not to put myself out there. I get angry at myself for not being more courageous, more confident in speaking and sharing and this time I wish I wish…. I had. I wish I had so my friend did not have to carry the burden of having to speak out in a predominantly visibly white bodied space; which he chose not to, but chose rather to discontinue the sessions.
I wish I had spoken up, been a lioness and adapted the same conflict confrontational/assertive style shared so I could bring an awareness of privilege, be an ally in that moment to my friend. I regret I did not. A few days ago my friend shared how disregarded, unconsidered he felt and thus the decision to remove himself. (choosing to flee/avoid as I imagine this felt the safest/easiest for him to do).
As I write this I reflect on social location and the awareness of our conflict styles ie which ones feel safer for some and not for others in various spaces. I reflect more carefully how to deliberately step into conflict styles even the ones that will get us into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble (thank you John Lewis) when our social location to power protects us from harm, imprisonment, death. I write this piece to friend and teacher.