I’ve been soaking up as much social media and essays and articles about #blacklivesmatter as I can. I want to be informed. I want to be useful.
And then I read this:
Malcolm X was approached by a white woman at a rally and she asked him “what can I do?” and he said “nothing” and turned back towards the crowd.
So being white, how can we be most useful in a fight that is not ours to win?
I’ve written down a few things I’ve found helpful this week, during this race war, when so many black people are…I can’t imagine how they are feeling. Here’s a bare minimum collection of ideas from a white women to her white friends about the necessity of #blacklivesmatter
White Fragility: “Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement that we are either not consciously aware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We experience a challenge to our racial worldview as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people. It also challenges our sense of rightful place in the hierarchy. Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as a very unsettling and unfair moral offense.” – The Good Men Project
Here are some powerful cries off facebook.
“When people with a powerful social media voice don’t attach themselves directly to the fight this is a HUGE problem and the stakes are too high for us to not be calling out names anymore. If we stay quiet and allow this kind of widespread hypocritical rhetoric from those with a social influence, we are part of the problem too”.
“If you have social media power, posting photos of black and white babies hugging is not enough. Messages about compassion are not enough. Being a “light-worker” is not enough. If you are meditating for peace on earth, you are not doing enough. Take action. Fuck up. Say Sorry. Get back to it.”
“Please don’t pretend a race war isn’t happening and that you’re not being affected. If you think you’re not being affected, you are part of the problem.”
“Intelligent dialogue is the first step.”
I also talked to my friend and yoga teacher Sjanie McInnis about how through meditation practice and yoga we wrap this cocoon of protection around ourselves and begin to feel less of the outside world to then focus in on our own internal workings, and these practices that bring us peace, and the asana that brings our body comfort and ease, these are feelings that we should not be cultivating right now. We should be receiving the pain and horror that is all around us. This is compassion.
Learning How To Be Uncomfortable: “In the dominant position, whites are almost always racially comfortable and thus have developed unchallenged expectations to remain so. We [whites] have not had to build tolerance for racial discomfort and thus when racial discomfort arises, whites typically respond as if something is ‘wrong,’ and blame the person or event that triggered the discomfort (usually a person of color). This blame results in a socially-sanctioned array of responses towards the perceived source of the discomfort, including: penalization; retaliation; isolation and refusal to continue engagement. Since racism is necessarily uncomfortable in that it is oppressive, white insistence on racial comfort guarantees racism will not be faced except in the most superficial of ways.” – Anon
My Uncomfortable Practice: I light a candle and sit in a room by myself on a cushion. I close my eyes and breathe. My hand is on my belly or in my lap. I have a straight spine. “Hey there, anyone who needs to be heard today, get your freak out on, you’ve got 5 minutes.” I set a timer to 5 minutes. I breathe and I close my eyes and I let any feeling that comes, in. Anything. I keep my chest open and my shoulders back and I allow whatever wants to be heard out. It may be wrenching grief, or curdling shame. It might be hate. I let all of the feelings freak-the-fuck-out and I breathe and then the timer goes off. “Thank you for visiting me. I hear what you’ve had to say. You are welcome back tomorrow. The shop is now closed for the night. And I pack up my heart and I close the doors to my chest and I place my hands on my heart and breathe for a bit more. And then I lay my forehead on the floor and give thanks and get on with things. – Emelia’s thing.
I’m willing to make mistakes publically. I’m open to receiving feedback. I’ll keep educating myself.
Trying to be Good Radio is hosting all #blacklivesmatter guests this week. If anyone wants to speak on the show about #blacklivesmatter and how white allies can serve better firstname.lastname@example.org.