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So We’ve Got Privilege! What Are We Willing to Let Go of? by Rita Sinorita Fierro

Photo of Rita Fierro

I’m Rita Sinorita Fierro, CEO of Fierro Consulting, LLC. It’s my honor to introduce this week’s colleagues I’ve grown to love.

Conversations about white privilege are often about what we as whites have: formal power, institutional support, unearned advantages. These conversations often end badly, because many people have experienced lack of advantages (due to gender, ability, class, etc.) and find it hard to see themselves having any advantage at all.

To have white privilege does not mean that we don’t have disadvantages. It means that compared to someone of another “race” with the exact same demographics, we have advantages we may not think of. For example, I’ve experienced being disadvantaged as a woman, but fewer disadvantages than Black women of my same social class and age. 

And what is white? White is anyone who has not had their land appropriated through colonialism. Black, Indigeneous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) share the experience of being colonized: their land was occupied by European settlers, institutions were sabotaged, and economies subverted to benefit the occupying population.

In this White Privilege Week, we won’t focus on what we have, we will focus on what we can let go of. As evaluators hired to be experts, letting go takes practice. 

  1. Letting Go of White Solidarity: Questioning and Rearranging Cultural Value
  2. Letting Go of Good
  3. Letting Go of Thought Worship 
  4. Letting Go of White Saviorism
  5. Letting Go of Perfectionism

Unless we are willing to let go, whiteness will always distort everything we do: the programs and communities we create, how we measure success, how we treat each other, how we react to clients, and how we treat people who don’t look like us. The more we let go, the less our blindspots steal the show. And while we may never be able to avoid every mistake, we can create the just world we seek and recover our own humanity. BIPOC have been holding white folk accountable for our biases for centuries. It’s time to do so ourselves. That’s why all the contributors this week are white: we’re highlighting how we grow our capacity as a community of practice. 

Quick Tip:

Join or create a community of people around who are learning like you. This self-reflection MUST happen in community. 

Rad Resource:

Read Kate McKegg’s Article on White Privilege and Decolonization in Evaluation 

Rad Resource:

This week is born from a White Fragility book club, quickly becoming a community of practice and accountability. If you’re interested in joining or staying in the loop you can complete this form here. For a deeper reflective dive, I’m writing articles on white ancestral healing on Medium.

Next steps: Do you have ideas about next steps? How can we: 

  • increase knowledge and self-awareness of white fragility? 
  • keep the issue in the forefront of our field? 
  • ensure there are papers and presentations on the topic at each conference? 
  • work with Diversity TIGs leadership towards a more equitable organization and world?
  • Create a task force charged with reviewing AEA formal statements (Ends Goals, management policies, Guiding Principles, Competencies) to how white fragility can be made explicit there?

Let us know your ideas in the comments!

The American Evaluation Association is exploring White Privilege Week with our AEA colleagues. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “So We’ve Got Privilege! What Are We Willing to Let Go of? by Rita Sinorita Fierro”

  1. Hello,
    As I read your work and the passion you have for equality, I can see myself in you as well. My desire is to strip away the pretense and know who I am. My family heritage is simple a conglomerate of change and connection. The white privilege is embedded in my life, despite my Native American heritage, hidden from plain sight. I would love to connect and share ideas. I love research and seek to balance my internship with study and openness. Each one, reach one.

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