In a recent article, the subject of White men who lack racial sensitivity has the potential to become a national debate. This lack of sensitivity is a direct product of the Raccelerate Phenomenon. The only way that White men will become a necessary tool to avert the atrocities associated with racism in Canada is to eliminate the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization.
According to the article, The Silence of the White Men, former Liberal MP and British Columbia NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh, asserts that the racism in Canada debate is suffocated due to the opinions of White men. He specifically wrote that “If the white men of Canada can’t overcome the fear of rebuke from the enforcers of fear, Canadians can’t ever have an honest debate about the state of equality, race, culture and the place and space for religion and other languages in Canada.”
The author counters the assertion of this Politian by stating:
- A Politian focuses on racism as a mechanism to gain popularity
- There are a lot of White guys talking fearlessly on the radio about racism
- The emphasis on the requirement of this type of discussion is manifested to discredit White men.
Neither Ujjal Dosanjh nor the author are able to pin down the real cause of White men refusing to participate in process that will eliminate racism in Canada. Both have embraced a stance that can only lead to White men becoming defensive. Defensiveness is an indication of a dysfunctional organization.
What are the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization that will keep White men from having fruitful discussion about racism in Canada?
There are five different levels that contribute to a dysfunctional organization. The foundation for a dysfunctional organization begins with each person’s use of defense mechanisms for coping. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening.
The second level is skilled incompetence, which is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill – albeit an incompetent skill – that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting. A skill that is learned from the regular application of a defense mechanism has a high degree of incompetence embedded within it, because we are unaware of how this skill will impact our future.
Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine.
Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork is the fourth level. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies.
Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. Organizational malaise is the final level. During this phase the individuals in the organization will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.
Overcoming the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization will require a team building process which includes:
- Eliminating any group dynamics that would enhance the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization
- Developing a shared vision
- Developing a strategic plan based on the agreed upon shared vision
White men can have successful conversations regarding racism in Canada by eliminating the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
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