Challenging Assumptions and Reactions to Racism

PerceptionIs it possible for us to address a challenging situation without always “leaping to default assumptions, or falling back on conditioning that would automatically label this encounter a racist moment”?  That is the question Tina Lifford addresses during her latest blog for Huffington Post, “When Is Racism Just Your Perception?”

“Remember the old saying, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’? When it comes to racism, we can change our relationship with this elephant, one response at a time,” writes Lifford.

Here is an excerpt from her latest post:


I asked myself, “Is this girl a racist?” I caught myself readying to categorize her rudeness in the same racist context as the scene in the play. I stopped myself. If she is racist, then what? Was I going to argue with her about it? 

I walked away from the counter slightly disturbed. In the waiting area, I opened my laptop, and tried to distract myself with email. But the rude encounter was still on my mind. 

As an inner fitness trainer, I know the importance of inner congruency. Congruency is the lovely state of feeling aligned with one’s self — having our actions and feelings line up. In this moment, I wasn’t feeling congruent.

I had learned years ago that I literally experience inner discomfort when I don’t speak up about something that bothers me. This is one way the pain of being incongruent can enter the heart. It is one kind of pain when we allow another to stifle our voice. It is a different, more painful kind of hurt when we silence ourselves. I knew I needed to speak with the young girl to free myself of the uncomfortable feeling that disturbed my heart. Otherwise I would carry it home with me, keeping it around for who knows how long.




Tina Lifford, who is currently in rehearsals for the world premiere of CITIZEN: An American Lyric, is doing a series of blogs while she is mounting the stage show–taking us all on a journey of exploring racism through the lens of working on this play not only as an artist, but also as an inner fitness trainer focused on emotional healing.  This is the second post in her series.  You can read all of Tina’s posts on her website: