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A Burning Dialogue of Racism

My introduction to Process Worldwork came during a racism workshop Arny Mindell held in 1993 in Oakland, California, with about 250 people of various races. He and his wife Amy and their fellow facilitators actively drew out the racist energies and voices (which Mindell calls "timespirits") that were hiding in and among the participants and encouraged those voices to interact and speak to each other. Some people felt free to speak their minds and hearts fully for the first time; others felt almost as if they were possessed or acting a role, saying things they didn't consciously believe, but which were drawn out of them by the intense interactions.

I heard these polarized voices inside myself and from other people. I stood in a crowd of whites who were yelling at a crowd of blacks.... and then I moved around and joined the crowd of blacks yelling at the whites to listen and got a jolt of what that felt like -- the raw energy of that. (The whites were saying "We are listening!" but weren't.)

I found that by identifying those voices and energies as timespirits, I was freed to experience myself and everyone around me as distinct from the psychosocial "field" of racism that was burning in and around us. In my eyes, we all regained our humanity, and I could suddenly engage people with a freer, more collaborative spirit. But I was also raw from what I experienced -- the pain and rage that my white privilege had allowed me to dilute and constrain and keep at a distance. It has had a lasting impression on me, filling me with more questions than answers, evoking a real awe at this painful place we have made for each other. It helped me determine to use whatever privilege I have to make a world where domination is rare and empathic connection is the norm.