On White Women’s Privilege and New Age ‘Spirituality

As women, our quests to connect to our spirituality have been long and fraught with opposition. From the burning of witches to the extinguishing of indigenous culture and spiritual practice, history bears witness to the systematic oppression and colonization of women’s spiritual business. What resulted is the instating of institutional religion, imbued with endemic racism, classism and shame.
Under the incumbent social and religious status quo, women are separated from their innate spiritual power and cultural status, but none more so than indigenous and black persons, and those of racial difference.
But while we white, privileged women have embraced and plumbed indigenous and native spiritual traditions, cultures and practices for our own enrichment, we have failed to loosen our ties with the system which oppresses
and commodifies these practices at their origin.
We’ve mistaken widespread commercial emergence of indigenous spirituality as an indicator of its irrepressible and universal nature, particularly amongst women. But white women’s wellness popularity belies the endemic racism, privilege and prejudice which underpin it.
For all our manifesting and visualizing, few of us white women give pause to imagining what abundance and actualization mean for those whose spirituality we’ve plundered to shore up our privilege. We visualise a world with more white privilege, although we’d rarely call it that. But victims of that privilege are more than ever before calling for its decimation.
Despite any underlying universality to women’s spirituality, white women’s wellness is not much more than an homogenized facsimile of it. While we white ladies love our chants and chattels, they’re in no way for us the important myth and meaning making intrinsic to cultural expression and survival. They’re merchandise.
The call to white, privileged women concerning their spirituality is this. We must come to indigenous and cultural spirituality not as consumers, but as pupils and, if invited, as apprentices. We must avail ourselves of diverse voices and stories of First Nation and persons of colour, rather than gobbling the cherries picked for us by the white wellness industry. And we must use our privilege to protect, enable and empower those cultures, stories and voices, not dabbling but immersing ourselves in them. We’ve been trained to believe such immersions are unsafe and hostile, content to simply hand our money to the tour operator and then scurry back home. But this isn’t going to fly much longer. Change, monumental politics, social and cultural is happening now, and it can happen despite or because of us.
It’s time to put our money, as well as our energy and intention, where our mouth is, and give more than pause to inequality, social injustice. It’s time for white, privileged women to look not just at our own spiritual deficits and disconnections, but the systemic destruction of BIPOC culture, society and spirituality. Buying into these, literally and virtually, will not help as much as laying down our power and privilege, and being willing to accept the consequences. If we believe the piper of reconciliation, social justice and change to be paid is the white women’s wellness industry, we are sadly, and willfully, mistaken.

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