• Molly Lee

Dana Buhl on White Privilege at NWGSDPDX Meeting #5

Dana Buhl leads a discussion on white privilege

At our last NWGSDPDX meeting on Sunday 2/12, we had the honor of listening to Dana Buhl, an advocate for racial justice and an educator on white privilege. As a white anti-racism educator, she explores white identity and the patterns of privilege we hold. She aims to inspire white people to resist the pulls of privilege as we commit to challenge racism. She is strongly influenced by Courageous Conversations About Race and Re-Evaluation Counseling. Dana is a founding member of a multiracial team of parents who organize and lead monthly Parents Talk Racial Equity meetings. She leads a white anti-racism affinity group and offers workshops to organizations and groups committed to racial equity and inclusion. We had a full house at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church with approximately 188 people.

Members broke into small groups for exercises to understand how white privilege affected their lives.

Understanding privilege can be tricky. It can be confusing. But it is necessary. As Dana poignantly demonstrated, white privilege is generally not on the forefront of our daily lives. White folks do not often recognize the simplest of privileges: the ability to walk around the store without feeling like a security guard is following you; opening a book and seeing people that resemble ourselves in the pages; being pulled over by a police officer and not being fearful for our lives. These are luxuries not afforded to all. These are privileges.

Dana led us in a group exercise of raising our hands when specific privileges were mentioned. I, for one, raised my hand for each one. I am a white woman. I am privileged. I live in a space that is safe. I raise my children in a way that society reiterates our lifestyle everyday. We have primarily white teachers; we live in a very white city; I am not frightened when my boys leave my house; and I do not have to teach them to be weary of the police. These are privileges.

A close friend and women of color once said to me, “White folks need to the hold the door open for us brown folks because our arms are full.” I think about how I can use my white privilege to hold the door open and to create a platform that works for all women. How can we as a group, as a collective, work to dismantle our own white privilege? It is here that we need to start breaking the chains of racism. Racism only exists because we unknowingly stand with it. Until we understand our own privileges, we cannot start to break the bindings holding our fellow humans down.

Having the opportunity to discuss white privilege at the last meeting was necessary. While these conversations are often uncomfortable, these conversations help create new framework of thought-- one that is inclusive, will unify, and will help us fight the oppressors together. Now is the time to hear our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our women of color, if we expect to see social change and justice. Until we do this, no one will be free. We will never have the freedom of choice to our bodies, equal pay, paid maternity leave, and all the issues we as women fight for. These are all moot until we are all on the same platform working together. It’s time to create a space unsafe for bigotry and hatred. It is time to make a space safe for ALL women. It is time to hold the door open.

For more information, please contact Dana Buhl at


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