Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dana’s Highlights of “Shades of Youth, Youth Speak On Privilege and Power” premiere film showing, Friday January 23rd 7 to 9:30pm at Inner Light Ministries, Soquel, CA (film trailer:


I felt my spirit shining with joy as the lights dimmed down in Inner Light Ministries’ social hall with every seat taken, watching people still flowing into the room. Standing room only. It felt good to take a seat on the carpet with the youth and adult allies flooding to the front of the room. I could spot my dad, grandma, room mates, and old high school friends waiting patiently not knowing what to expect as a mix of community gathered to engage in dialogue around racism and white privilege. How far could we go with such 250 people in the room? Could some healing take place? Who is in this audience? Are we ready to dive into white privilege? I was in a “moment in time,” feeling the profoundness to be standing before an audience with my best friend Jasmine and Lex about to stand tall in creative resistance through spoken word. The high school youth in the room reminded me that 15 years before I swam in confusion, not getting it all together why there was separation between white peers and youth of color. I didn’t even speak the term “white privilege,” and now we were about to watch brilliant young people articulate circles around racism and privilege. What I knew back then was a deep sadness and clear sense that my innate creativity was stifled in this unspoken confusion.


Back to the Film Showing, people pouring in, what were many of them sensing? Were many of us on different planets of feelings and analysis around the systems and interpersonal damage of racism? What were their reasons for wanting to be here on a rainy Friday night? Could being in community around healing racism be more real in 2009? Am I a catalyst in this process with my poetry and residual not knowing?


During artist and musician warm up time I had the opportunity to practice freestyle spoken word for the first time. Truth be told, I wanted to run away, play small, rest up and prepare some more in my luxury of whiteness. Instead I went up to the mic and let a piece come out like a prayer for freedom. Free from silence that has held my white ancestors hostage to assimilation. When Lauren asked people in the room to stand up if their family spoke about racism on a regular basis, I witnessed white youth near me stand up right away, then realizing that their families did not speak about it 2 to 3 times a week, sat down and physically got it, that WE mostly don’t talk about racism in our white families. The journey of these white youth trying to stand up then sitting back down was a good learning point for me. It was disappointing for me in my own journey to realize that the white adults in my life did not have the tools to speak to white privilege. That being stuck was a common thread. That not having the tools to understand this primary division and dehumanization in our world is like seeing a baby not being able to hold her close. Feelings, understanding a deeper place of knowledge never tapped into. It was important for me to learn that this silence was on purpose and that my generation and future generations of white youth can continue to heal past legacies through breaking the code of white silence.

Ricky Sherover-Marcuse in her article “Towards A Perspective on Eliminating Racism: Twelve Working Assumptions,” wrote as number twelve, “All people come from traditions which have a history of resistance to injustice, and every person has their own individual history of resistance to oppressive social conditioning. This history deserves to be recalled and celebrated. Reclaiming one’s own history of resistance is central to the project of acquiring an accurate account of one’s own heritage. When people act from a sense of informed pride in themselves and their traditions, they will be more effective in all struggles for justice.” (

(to be continued)


Shades Of Youth” spoken word excerpt on white privilege –


Whiteness defined through sayings such as the good old days when “our” forefathers created land of the free 

White privilege is thinking I can write the perfect poem

that will fix racism in America, save the world

because I learned from every adult to believe in me.


White privilege is pretending like these words don’t make me want to fly away to lala land

cause I got to keep it together and be better than those white folks who are racists.

White privilege is the ways I’ve hidden from people of color cause I knew my prejudice would be discovered, kept silent telling myself it wasn’t me who committed histories or atrocities.

White privilege is thinking I have no culture, that race does not matter

5 generations deep in America

I can no longer smell the fragrance of ancestral lands, nor songs, sayings, stories, nor recipes.

Irish, German, Scottish, English, Swiss and French

My family bought into whiteness at the cost of connection to stories of how my peoples survived and who my people are.  Roots matter.