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To shine a clearer light

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

I've been working for a while to disconnect guilt and shame in myself. I'm defining guilt as feeling that I did something wrong, and shame as feeling that I AM something wrong. I recently had a big win after realizing I made a significant mistake and felt the weight of the guilt, but not any shame. Part of not feeling the shame involved taking the full weight of the responsibility. Kinda heavy, not pleasant, but so worth it. This also enabled me to not blame any of the other people involved and behave in a more adult manner when addressing the mistake.

This is part of being an adult: taking the full weight of responsibility. Further, taking on this adult maturity is key in dismantling white supremacy and other grave errors. Acknowledging privilege, and perhaps generational if not individual guilt, can be met with an adult responsibility. But shame, the feeling that one is wrong in one's very essence -- who's not gonna kick and scream against that?

I see some of that kicking and screaming in the concerted effort against Critical Race Theory being taught in schools. I know CRT is used as a red herring; that strategy packs an emotional punch because the propaganda says kids are being taught it's shameful to be "white." That's not what CRT is, and I'm not one to spend too much time arguing with folks that think it is, because it can be a logic-free rabbit-hole. But perhaps when we are fighting for some kind of truth and reconciliation, if we get clear in our own selves on the difference between guilt and shame, we'll shine a clearer light.


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