Dismantling White Supremacy Culture Resource of the Month - June 2023

By Sharon Dittmar

I take part in many conversations about dismantling white supremacy culture. I have received a lot of training and had many opportunities to engage in self-reflection and explore what I have learned. Here is what I have figured out thus far:

I am still trying to shake my cultural training

Someone once described white supremacy culture to me as the “air we breathe, the water we swim in.” It is everywhere, always, and when I was growing up, it was unchecked and normative. My brain has been programmed to gloss over situations of racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, homophobia, ageism, classism. Almost any “ism” is one I came of age ignoring, or maybe feeling was wrong, but accepting, even when it applied to me.

I am responsible for myself

As an adult my job is to dismantle and rebuild my internal cultural programming so that all humans are worthy, wonderful, unique, and full of potential. I will spend the rest of my life doing this. Every day I learn more, every day I fall short, but the responsibility to understand differently and do better is my own. This is the price of an examined life and I accept it.

I make mistakes

And this is different from being a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and causes harm. This is human.

Apologies are life changing

Apology is essential to the work and keeps me in right relationship after the mistakes.

This is more than an intellectual exercise

Reading, reflection, and self-awareness are all essential. Beyond that there is a bigger reach, going out into the world, listening, observing, interacting and conversing with people, particularly humans who have identities different than my own. The human community is still the best classroom.

Shame and blame don’t help

They just discharge pain onto others.

White privilege is real

And I have it.

In Love and Faith,

About the Author

Sharon Dittmar

Reverend Dittmar graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1997. She served one year as Interim Minister at the Gathering at Northern Hills (Cincinnati, OH 1997-1998), and eighteen years as Minister at First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati (1998-2016). In 2016 she began work as Congregational Life...

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