NIOT Princeton

A White Man on the REZ

A White Man on the REZ: 

“Higher” Education In A Culture of Fear: 
A Journey Through Alienation and Privilege to Healing

(The following is excerpted from a longer 14 page article by Roberto Schiraldi.)

In 2001, I had my first of eight opportunities to spend time on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Though some of the Lakota people were friendly, I felt a sense of discomfort. The people stared at me in the stores, held their gazes as I drove by, and some even ignored me as I wished them a good morning. It was culture shock. And it hit me hard, that I didn’t fit in – – I was a white man on the reservation.

A white man entering onto a Native American reservation parallels many of those entering our campuses, workplaces and communities, particularly in the shared experience of being the “other”. My experience was certainly a wake-up call for me, a powerful reminder of how it feels to not be part of the norm. However, there are clear differences based on historical and contemporary experiences related to being White, Native, and other racial and ethnic minorities.

Given the fast pace of technological change or Future Shock (Toffler, 1975), and the state of the  recessionary economy, poor job market, global warming, terrorism, wars, and other social conditions, many of our students feel overwhelmed and ill-prepared to make choices that often will affect the rest of their lives. They are trying to find their place in a world that often feels harsh and unwelcoming, a world presenting a “culture of fear.”

Our schools, workplaces and communities are reflections of the best and worst of the larger culture. Whereas many elements of our culture welcome diversity, others are elitist or discriminatory, or both. Therefore, while usually subtle and often unintentional, these same elements of elitism and discrimination are also present on in our schools, workplaces and communities.

A Buddhist teaching is that “the greatest privilege is to know oneself.”

In discussing privilege, it is important to emphasize that educating ourselves and others about this topic is not about blaming or finding fault, but rather about helping us to increase our understanding and compassion, and creating an environment that is more fully accepting Why, when many view the term as offensive and divisive, can it still be helpful to use it? The main reason is that the harmful norms and values inherent in the term “privilege,”  are alive and well, that is, elitism, superiority, and competition for power, wealth and control. Until these norms and values are replaced by healthier ones, such as inclusion, cooperation and sharing the
wealth, using this term can help us to keep our focus on creating change, which will serve all.

One place that individuals can receive support for addressing these issues is in counseling .

The following are some strategies for encouraging counselors to begin or continue the process
of engaging in this important work.

1. Be willing to continue uncovering our own biases as we continue to work on enhancing our self-awareness (Johnson,2001), so we can become more comfortable talking about diversity and privilege with peers and clients. For example, keep a white privilege journal of reminders and new learnings about our biases and privilege, as we continue to affirm and acknowledge our efforts.

2. Support others in learning how to deal with feeling different and disconnected, for example through offering support groups that address related issues such as multi-cultural concerns, being male/teaching our young men how to be gentle with themselves and our world (Kivel, 1993), healthy relationships, and managing emotions, with approaches such as dialectical behavior therapy (Marra, 2005), mindfulness meditation (Kabat-Zinn,1990), and learning how to meet basic human needs such as acceptance, connection, empathy, through learning the art of non-violent communication (Rosenberg, 2003). Each of these aforementioned approaches teach specific tools about learning self-respect and emotional
management with ourselves and empathetic connection with others.

The following are some Institutional Strategies for Addressing Cultural Competency, Inequity,
Power and Privilege Issues:

1. Regularly scheduled, highest level cultural competency training for all students, faculty and staff, employees and community members, which addresses how to create an interpersonal environment where individuals who feel different (due to race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, international background), feel welcomed, safe, and strongly supported. The training should also include barriers of language and communication with people of color and international individuals and, as well as cultural differences among White students and individuals. Additionally, training for the individuals who feel different, on how to manage, survive and thrive in the dominant culture is essential.

2. To contribute to a school mission statement which emphasizes the primary mission of graduating optimally healthy (mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually) and well-rounded, happy, responsible adults who will serve the world. Consider making “in service of the world” be a primary mission statement/value of education. Require one year service commitment for all students. This service commitment, as well as the on-going cultural competency will help to ensure that students will be successful, leaders in an increasingly lobal marketplace. Perhaps a student, staff, faculty work group could be formed with carrying forth this intention of the one year service commitment as its’ primary goal.

(Additional strategies for individual counselors and for addressing these issues on the institutional level, are provided in the full article. To request a copy please email me at

When we address inequity, power and privilege we help ourselves and our clients on our healing journeys. May we choose to be kind to ourselves and all our relations.


Johnson, A., (2001). Privilege, Power, and Difference. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe living. New York: Delta Publishing.

Kivel,P. , (1993). Men’s Work , how to stop the violence that tears our lives apart. Minnesota:

Marra, T. (2005). Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Private Practice: A practical and
comprehensive guide. Oakland: New Harbinger Press.

Rosenberg, M.B., (2003). Nonviolent communication: A language of life. California:
PuddleDancer Press.

Toffler,A., (1974). Future shock. New York: Random House.

F. Roberto Schiraldi, EdD,LPC, LCADC


Princeton’s Core Values: December 3

Not in Our Town, Continuing Conversations on Race & White Privilege

Monday, December 3, 2012, 7:30-8:50 pm, 
2nd floor Princeton Public Library
How do these values relate to white privilege and to race?
Is it particularly difficult to discuss issues such as these in our community?
How can we address these issues in a way that allows those in power to explore them and feel safe?

This discussion will be facilitated by Roberto Schiraldi and Barbara Fox. All are welcome. 

Fisher v University of Texas: November 27

Affirmative Action and Higher Education at a Crossroads: The Supreme Court and the Implications of Fisher v. University of Texas

A Conversation with Civil Rights Attorney and Columbia Law School Professor Ted Shaw
Joined by Wendy White, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the University of Pennsylvania, and Peter McDonough, Princeton University’s General Counsel

Tuesday, November 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Carl A. Fields Center
Refreshments will be served

*Theodore (Ted) Shaw, Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School and Of Counsel to the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., is one of the nation’s foremost civil rights litigators.  He has presented affirmative action cases before the U.S. Supreme Court several times during his accomplished career.   Mr. Shaw previously served as Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and was on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Law, where he helped to fashion the admissions policies that were ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger, in 2003.

*Wendy White is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as of Penn Medicine. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.  Formerly a partner in a Washington D.C. law firm, Ms. White also served as Associate Counsel to the President of the United States during the Clinton Administration.

*Peter McDonough is General Counsel of Princeton University.  He is a member of a coordinating committee of general counsels that selected, engaged and worked with outside counsel to provide substantive content and shape an amicus brief submitted in the Fisher case on behalf of Princeton, Harvard, UPenn, and other institutions.  Mr. McDonough is active in the National Association of College and University Attorneys, having served on its Board of Directors and chaired its Committee on Legal Education.  He was a litigator in New York City before coming to Princeton.


Correcting the Corrections System: Ed Martone

A just society isn’t one that merely isolates and punishes its offenders, according to Ed Martone of the New Jersey Association on Correction. “The challenge is how best to achieve social justice,” says Martone. He speaks on “Healing Crime Victims, Restoring Communities, Repairing Offenders” at Princeton United Methodist Church located at Nassau and Vandeventer, on Sunday, December 9, at 8 a.m.
Martone will refer to Michele Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow, which is the focus for various congregations in Princeton, including the Contemporary Issues class at PUMC. He will present criminal justice policy reforms pending in the New Jersey Legislature and discuss how to realize their implementation. “A caring community (and one that intends to preserve itself) strives to fix what is broken — in this case, the victim, the offender, and the general public itself,” says Martone.
Martone is NJAC’s director of public education and policy and director of the New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. A graduate of FairleighDickinson University, he is the former executive director of the NJ American Civil Liberties Unionand was the former Mayor of North Arlington, N.J. (Bergen County). Martone served on the Corrections Transition Teams for both Governors Corzine and McGreevey. He is presently the prisoner/community representative on the Princeton University Institutional Review Board.
Though the breakfast is sponsored by the United Methodist Men, everyone is welcome; a $5 donation is suggested. Reservations are requested before Friday, December 7; call 609-924-2613 or email     

Says Martone: “A caring community (and one that intends to preserve itself) strives to fix what is broken — in this case, the victim, the offender, and the general public itself.” 


Continuing Conversation: How Race, Class, and Privilege Shape the Election

Not in Our Town
Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege
Monday, November 5, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Princeton Public Library, 2nd floor.

Continuing in the area of the conversation begun on October 1, the topic will be

Race, class and privilege are intertwined, but each has its own attributes; the weight
of each in the mix changes over time. These parts and their mixture set important
parameters of political discourse and hence of political maneuvering and strategy.

Since the Depression, how have they evolved into their present mix?

How do we see them manifested for this 2012 election?

All questions and observations around this general topic will be welcome. The conversation will be facilitated by Don Stryker and Ann Yasuhara.

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