I recently read Ruth King’s book Mindful of Race (Sounds True: Boulder, Colorado, 2018). King proposes to transform racism from the inside out. One way is to look at our membership. Are we in a dominant group or a subordinate group? Dominant groups are unaware of being a racial group and how that impacts others. Why? Because they see themselves as individuals. On the other hand, persons in a subordinate group identify with their group. Those in the dominant group tend to think, “I can succeed, so why can’t everyone else?” When the faults of the dominant group are pointed out, the persons in that group respond, “But I personally am not like that.”
This dynamic can apply to other areas besides race, such as financial status, power or authority, education. Are we part of a dominant group or a subordinate group? How does the group affect my actions and attitudes? Am I mindful of how others feel and think? King’s book goes much deeper than the right thing to say or do. She asks a more basic question: How mindful are we? As we Sisters of Notre Dame across the nation study to recognize the subtle suppression and oppression of subordinate groups, we need to reflect very deeply—with mindfulness.