Our current Western-based rational, linear style of learning, which is shaped by White supremacy thinking, is only suited to promote what I call “cultural sympathy,” the intellectual understanding of another person’s thoughts and feelings. As a result, learning about race and racism often devolves into nothing more than an intellectual exercise where a White person is made to feel even more alienated to people from other cultures and responds by saying, “As a White person, how can I possibly feel what they must feel?” In order to fully understand the life experiences of a person of color, a White person has to go beyond what it means to effectively learn (i.e., book-learning), as defined by White supremacy thinking, to culturally empathize and not just simply culturally sympathize. Cultural empathy is the ability to not only intellectually understand the thoughts and feelings of a person from a different culture, but to also feel the other’s emotional condition from the point of view of that person’s racial or ethnic culture. Thus, a White person has to not only intellectually understand why a person of color is feeling a certain emotion but has to also actually feel what they are feeling. It is the ability to empathize at the intellectual and affective levels that enables White people to connect with the humanness that they share with a person of color. Towards this end, the use of analogies, metaphors, and narratives will be explicated as a strategy to enhance cultural empathy and mitigate White supremacy thinking.
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