In recent months I’ve become increasingly aware of how often people within New Age feel privileged to justify racism. There is a pervasive belief in New Age that marginalized peoples want to experience marginalization, because their soul consciously embodied into that experience in this lifetime.[i] This line of reasoning compounded with a goal to “center in one’s truth” is an open invitation for upholding white privilege. Too many times I have witnessed white folks within New Age gaslight people of color for “talking from their ego” when it comes to calling out racist behavior. Even I have been accused of egotism when addressing it.
There’s a complete failure in New Age to recognize centuries of institutionalized racism and our collective responsibility to dismantle it. And that type of reasoning is disturbing for a movement that prides itself on “paradigm shifting” philosophies. So I’d like to take some time to explore orientalism, a type of racism that is at the bedrock of New Age. It’s easy to think that if you intend positivity then you automatically enact positivity. But prejudice and stereotypes can become embodied and passed down from generation to generation, and being a beacon of love, light, and happiness isn’t enough to break the cycles of unconscious biases. That requires continual interrogation of perceived cultural truths, active self-reflection, and a commitment to consciously choose a different thought, emotion, and action.