I haven’t posted about race or the Black Lives Matter movement for a while. And it’s pretty common that we white folks will join the dialogue and discourse vigorously when it’s popular, then hit a wall of discomfort and freeze up or abandon the work entirely.
Doing the work to lateralize power, resources and privilege sounds good…until the first experience of losing some without our permission clarifies how it feels. It’s important to name that. And it feels important (to me) to clarify what periods of silence and absence are about.
I love that I get to share my life with BIPOC folks and activists in these movements. I understand I am one simple human organism in the world and my facebook timeline is my own little Note To Self. I hope when I look back that my Notes reflect hope and tenacity. A country that is Black affirming is life affirming for all.
A good portion of recent silence is because I’ve been focusing on honoring the passing of a great human who means a lot in my life.
And I have also been listening and learning and parenting with a critical lens during this powerful new chapter of civil rights movements. As things rapidly shift, it’s important to focus and take direction from movement leadership.
I bring myself back to these questions whenever I feel overwhelmed or frozen: Which direct requests from Black life affirming movements can I complete? How can I reduce my complicity in behaviors and patterns that work against Black and other BIPOC people and the movements? How can I keep my yearning for greater peace, love and connection from numbing me out of action.
That last one could be interpreted any number of ways–let me clarify what I mean. I yearn for greater peace, love and connection. For all beings. For true equity and removal of the barriers that keep disparities in place. But if I only sit praying for this radical peace, without ever stepping into the discomfort of dismantling the bones and guts of racism, that doesn’t feel right for me.
It takes time and space separate from everyday stressors to study, listen and integrate anti-racism discourse. This is our best bet at reducing harm to BIPOC. We will not be able to avoid harm. The wounds are raw and history is long.
On the other hand, the urgency forced by loss of life is intense. There is truly no time.
Complicating this, the anti-racism body of work is vast. It’s old. As old as racism. It’s exploded into new acronyms and terminology that is inaccessible for many. The teachers and writers I follow all have different takes and instructions, often seemingly contradictory. And it’s overwhelming.
But when I take my own overwhelm out of the reaction, I can see how each of them is correct. Each approach is valid. It reminds me of renovation. Everyone does different jobs and the work gets done.
We won’t all understand, choose, or condone the collective body of work. But we can each get started in some way, if we haven’t already.
No matter what I come across in my study…it is most necessary to listen to the BIPOC folks in my life and learn from their varied and individual perspectives, stories, reflections, boundaries and requests. Through taking time to sort through my reactions to many, many different voices, I can come to a clearer understanding of my own next steps.
I’ll be honest. My work right now is all about parenting with a critical lens and further eradicating the internal processes of white settler entitlement I was born with.
This means dismantling my entitled drive to be a “good ally.” It sounds counterintuitive, but the more I listen, the more important it feels to dissect the over-functioning from that which is more intentional.
This doesn’t mean I am not listening to movements and their action requests. It doesn’t mean I’m not participating whenever I can. And it doesn’t mean I’m not available.
It means that I don’t want to be complicit in allyship as an act of re-colonization. I don’t want to be a stakeholder in the re-colonized, repurposed status quo we tend to build time and time again.
The optics of quietly praying for settler colonialism to leave ones cells and soul are not as exciting, for sure. But these seemingly mundane steps are easy to miss and so crucial in a culture that makes everything into a competition.