A place for people of faith and no-faith to explore shared values, build respect and mutually inspiring relationships, and pursue common action for the common good

On an Identity

In Better Together, Faith, Interfaith on February 2, 2011 at 4:51 pm

This blog was written by Mark Wolfe, IFYC Fellow at the University of Indianapolis. You may read Mark’s blog at uindyinterfaithforum.wordpress.com and follow Mark on Twitter @InterfaithWolfe.

Mark facilitating dialog at the University of Indiana What IF? Speak In

When the comedian Brian O’Sullivan visited the University of Indianapolis, one of the greatest musical hits that he played during the night was called “I’m a WASP,” a parody of the famous Black Eyed Peas song called “Imma Be.”  Throughout the entirety of the song, O’Sullivan listed many of the stereotypes involving WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants), the most populous group in the United States.  While the majority of Americans are still WASPs, there is an increasing diversity, both racial and religious, that one cannot ignore.  When 48% of Los Angeles County is Hispanic and millions of Muslims inhabit this country, WASPs are not alone anymore.

I am a male WASP. From prior understandings of power in America, I would be at the plateau.  While gender equality is slowly becoming a reality, the pay scale between men and women continues in inequality.  While racial equality is slowly becoming a reality, prejudice and stereotypes continue to cause discrimination.  While I rarely contemplate the nature of my privileges, I will not deny the fact that some of my success may be attributed to my status as a male WASP.  Frankly, I have never known the sting of discrimination based on my identity.

I recently returned from my last training conference with Interfaith Youth Core.  For the second time, I loved the experience.  My co-workers are AMAZING!!!  To use an Indiana euphemism, I had too many meaningful conversations than I could shake a stick at.  After attending the conference, I feel refreshed and re-energized to continue the interfaith work at the University of Indianapolis.

One of the exercises near the end of the conference asked everyone to write a letter that showed the impact of the conference on their life and their plan for the next few months.  Upon reflection, I noticed an important point that I had never realized before.  I am a male WASP.  None of the people in my cohort are.  The Fellows Alliance is comprised of 16 women and 3 men.  The majority of the group is not Protestant.  Why had I never noticed before?  I soon realized that I never felt uncomfortable.  During the entire time that I met my co-workers in Chicago, we became friends, and our racial and religious background never divided us.  I was in the minority for the first time in my life, and I was completely clueless.

Can you imagine a world like the community that I found in the Fellows Alliance?  Does it not sound like the world that Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned?  Does it not sound like the world that Mahatma Gandhi envisioned?  Does it not sound like the world that Eboo Patel envisions?  After meeting my co-workers, and friends, through the Interfaith Youth Core, I know that I will never be the same.  At the University of Indianapolis, help my fellow interfaith leaders and I create this type of community, so that we can shine as a city on a hill for the world to strive for.

Your friend,
Mark Wolfe

Interfaith Youth Core Fellows Alliance 2010-2011
University of Indianapolis

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