Kira Hudson Banks | St. Louis Public Radio

Kira Hudson Banks

Kira Hudson Banks

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: What comes to mind when you hear the word privilege?

Many people become defensive and want to distance themselves from it. “My life isn’t perfect. I didn’t ask for all this. I don’t feel powerful...”

Privilege is not about deserving, asking or working for something. It just is.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It’s not about a courtroom verdict. It’s about the verdicts delivered the moment a Black man is assumed to being up to no good simply because he is a Black man. Those blatant judgments and high profile examples certainly sting but so does the accumulation of no or slow service, assumptions of inferiority, questioning of integrity, body language of avoidance, or the false compliment of "you're so articulate." It all functions to make clear that little is expected of you -- or your kind -- and that respect is not immediately granted.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Welcome to the final installment of the Racial Baggage Challenge! Hopefully you shed some “weight” and learned something about yourself in the process.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This week builds on and facilitates the expansion of your networks exercise from last week. After doing much personal awareness work and reflecting on the stories we are told about others, we will begin to expand our knowledge of others.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Last week we talked a great deal about stereotypes.

You might be asking yourself, “So what? I think I get it, but what do I do with all this awareness?”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: We’ve spent some time together of the past couple of weeks and have established a few things:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This week, we will focus our lens on culture and our own personal stories. We will reflect on the various cultural groups we belong to and how we have been socialized into our group memberships and the values, traditions and norms that have been transmitted.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Welcome to week two! If you didn't get a chance to participate in week one, you can always revisit  previous challenges throughout this process.

This week we will focus on race as a social construct. That might sound odd if this is the first time you are hearing the term. But, to break it down, it means that race is real yet not real -- biologically, a weak differentiator, yet socially a strong determinant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Comments during the recent mayoral debate sparked a discussion over how segregated and integrated St. Louis really is. Even before that debate came to the fore, I had been sharing tips and personal stories about how I and those around me are working to make integration real in St. Louis. The Beacon has asked that I bring that effort to its site.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2012 - Some say the recent Un-Fair campaign launched by the YWCA in Duluth, Minn., is just that- un-fair. My belief is that it is a spot-on example of what it means to be an ally. The YWCA is living its mission, which includes “dismantling racism” and using its sphere of influence to draw attention to the important topic of privilege. In this predominantly White town of Duluth, the YWCA has decided to address issues of institutionalized racism. Yet billboards depicting White individuals with examples of White privilege have left some feeling blamed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2011 - In light of my recent column on systems, I was struck by examples of Christian privilege that flourished this past week. To disclose, I am Christian and feel strongly that people in privileged positions should be willing to name their power.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 30, 2010 -We've all heard about the controversy of Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally, which took place on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech." The analysis has largely been stuck on the question of whether Beck should or should not have held his rally on the landmark date.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 30, 2008 - It was already a lose, lose situation. However, Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush's comments made it more of an uncomfortable one. Rep. Rush's statements at the press conference where Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced his choice of Roland Burris for the vacant U.S. Senate seat were indicative of old-school racial politics.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2008 - The holiday season always reminds me how territorial we can be. The "war on Christmas" argument has come back, and we are made to feel "damned if we do, damned if we don't."

There's nothing inherently wrong with saying "Merry Christmas," but there's also nothing wrong with being sensitive enough to consider whether or not the phrase fits the recipient.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - The recent criticism by Ayman al-Zawahiri of Obama as the anti-Malcolm X illustrates the tendency to homogenize racial groups. This Al-Qaeda leader suggested that Obama, along with Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, were "house slaves." This term refers to Blacks who are deferential to Whites. He also called out Obama as a betrayer to his Muslim heritage. Talk followed about the differences and/or similarities between Obama and Malcolm X.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 6, 2008 - America can change. This much is true. It was evident in the reflections of both candidates. Sen. Barack Obama called for a renewed sense of unity, accountability and self-reliance. His speech in Chicago was a call to action for all Americans to join together. The tracing of the life of Ann Nixon Cooper, the 106-year-old voter, was poignant and displayed the shape and stride of our history.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 22, 2008 - I’ve asserted time and time again that “race matters,” but given the recent happenings it’s also important to be clear that it is not “everything.” It seems that our default is to claim colorblindness or name race as the cause and cure. The dichotomy that race means nothing at all or drives one’s every move is false. To be an inclusive society, we must recognize what an individual’s race and ethnicity might bring while also connecting with what is common among us.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 13, 2008 - Can we please stop acting surprised that race matters? It's been a focal point in the media's recent discussion of the election - mostly that some people consciously or unconsciously will not vote for Obama because of his race. Don't get me wrong. I agree that race is a relevant construct in our present day. However, the media's sense of shock that their own pumping of negative stereotypes of Black men in particular, and African Americans in general, just might have an impact on the way some perceive Barack Obama is exasperating.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 29, 2008 - I've been struck by, well, a number of things in the past month. However, the most striking dynamic has been the consistent hypocrisy of Palin supporters crying sexism when McCain supporters have slammed Obama's camp time and time again for even mentioning race. Initially, I laughed ("Oh, now when it's convenient, it's OK to point out inequities.); then I was dumbfounded ("Seriously? You're going to play the gender card after blasting Obama and Clinton for mentioning their identities?"); and now I think I've got it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 15, 2008 - As we reflected on the tragedy of 9/11, my mind shifted to the psychological aftermath of hypervigilence and misperceptions. The reality is that in a number of ways we "went after" those who looked like our perpetrators long before the Bush Doctrine. Muslims and people of Arab descent were targets of hate crimes, satire, comedic insult, distorted media images and the like.

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