Addressing the Roots of Racism
While current events have at times felt uplifting, they can also be extremely re-traumatizing for the black community, and therefore, for my family, as my partner and kids are black.
My 9-year-old somehow found the video of George Floyd's death while he was homeschooling and went poking around on his iPad. He was disastrously impacted. We held space for all the places that took him, and for now, he is "fine," although it hasn’t all landed. It’s a lot to take in.
My partner, Gabriel, has been on an unprecedented emotional roller coaster. Through it all, I’m trying to pay attention, make time to listen, provide some extra TLC, and create context, understanding, and support for my boys. I really haven’t had a chance to process things thoroughly.
I do want to share that I feel heartened by this movement and cautiously optimistic that the stress of this time will break open more hearts and yield commensurate shifts in society and consciousness.
I don't spend a lot of time on social media, but I do put my finger on the pulse, now and again. In doing so, I’ve noticed much of the conversation in the white community revolves around "doing better," listing all the ways we'll transform ourselves and our organizations, and sharing resources for how others can "do better," too.
Often, the desire to participate in awakening to privilege comes from a place of deep respect and sincerity. Sometimes, however, it exudes a palpable quality of, "I've been bad, and now, I will be good, pay attention to who the good people are, make sure I do the right thing, and avoid getting criticized."
When the process of transformation becomes performative, it loses its gravitas. Change driven by this kind of externally-motivated impulse re-asserts conditioned patterns of guilt and self-abandonment, leaving our actions hollow.
True "ally-ship" is an inside job.
If you get overwhelmed by divisive voices, either internally or externally, do try to focus on what’s really happening. The root cause of systemic racism is humanity's collective ignorance of the deepest Self - the place within where we all connect.
When humans feel disconnected from Source, it becomes easy to divide, marginalize, point blame, and separate ourselves from one another. Feeling separate arises from and creates deep fear. This allowed white people to “other-ize,” assert power over, and ultimately enslave black people.
The internal process going on when people blame themselves for not doing more or for being oblivious of their privilege follows a similar groove. Take care not to ostracize parts of yourself as you awaken.
If seeing some of your conditioned biases or becoming aware of things you've been oblivious to creates internal friction, that can put you back on the road to freedom. Walking the freedom road requires discipline, humility, and adoration of grace. It may callus your feet, but ultimately it takes you through ALL THE FEELS, and gives you back to yourself.
Please DO get stirred up. This is a long road and we need to reach critical mass for a seed change to occur. AND, if you really want to support the global struggle to shake off the shackles of conditioned racism, do it from a place of love. If you're deciding right now that you need to educate yourself or change your ways or reimagine the structure of your organization, I’m with you, but stay tight with your inner process. Don’t let shame or self-contempt run the show. Turn your face to the sun.
Healing is not a self-improvement project. You don't have to become a "better person”! Just keep opening your eyes. Listen to the voice that always calls to you: Embrace All of Life. Bring Your Whole Self.
Attend closely to that purest clarity within, and yolk your heart-mind to love.
For those of you in my community who are Black: I want to send you a message of massive RESPECT. I stand with you.
p.s We took the kids to Oakland for the Kids' March, and got to feel the incredible power of raising our voices with an enormous (and very socially distanced) crowd. The best part, perhaps, was passing back through downtown where all the boarded up windows have transformed into incredible works of art. Oakland is ALIVE and full of beauty. The kids and I made a rough video of our time together :)