I’ve been rather quiet on social media recently, mostly focusing on cooking up some other magic, but also listening deeply. To all sides, all voices, but especially those subjugated, disregarded, and suppressed for too long.
I don’t wish to speak over such voices in any way. They desperately need to be heard right now, and the arena is already over saturated with impassioned personal opinions largely unsubstantiated by evidence and lacking critical thinking. But I do hope to address those posting in retaliation, defensiveness, and misunderstanding of the Black Lives Matter movement.
And not to shame or throw hate at you, but because I believe that with a little (or in some cases, perhaps a lot!) of courage, open-mindedness, compassion, you have the shining potential to help transform this awful situation into healing and justice.*
I’m posting to speak to you, because I know what it is like to grow up in a white family, society, and system engrained with both subtle, and much more overt, racism; and to acknowledge, overcome, and seek to heal this sickness.
When we look within, it can become clear that though we might experience prejudice within our own mind, our inner world, it is not necessarily ‘ours’. We do not need to cling to it to maintain our identity. On closer examination, such judgements are often programmed by our (often highly biased) environment. By the value systems we absorb from our families, media, education, culture. Being raised with a viewpoint does not mean we have to cling to and perpetuate it. We can examine our inherited beliefs for their ethicality, validity, and fairness. Then we can choose to educate ourselves, and form new and more compassionate and accurate opinions. This is well within our capabilities as humans, but it isn’t always easy to do.
In a shamanic worldview, this is the essence of shadow work, and it takes courage. I am here to help those who genuinely are willing to do this work. We might feel ashamed of some of the things we find arising in us, racist judgments upon others being one example. This can often bring up denial, shame, resistance, discomfort, or anger, which are all natural human responses, but they don’t change the fact that the shadow is still there, and likely has been for a long time. It isn’t necessarily our fault that it found it’s way into our minds, after all white privilege and covert racism are ubiquitous and prevalent across our culture and media. We are likely all implicated. But I do believe it is our responsibility to address and rectify such false beliefs.
Comparing the current events with cases against white people, or posting that all lives matter, doesn’t take into account the long and grim history of inequality, that cannot be left out. And this is an old story, revealing centuries of terrible theft, rape, violence, and exploitation against black and indigenous peoples and their lands. Much of our ‘Western’ ‘developed’ civilisation is built on wealth directly accumulated through the enslavement of others in the age of empires. Though this is not the history we are taught in school, it is there just below the surface for those willing to look.
As individuals and a culture we need to face the harsh truths of this history, as well as our continuing privilege. Given the truly depraved past treatment served across the world by the hands of white people, I find it incredibly audacious and disgusting that racism prevails within us today. Yet it does. It is time for justice to begin to be served.
I don’t even know how we can begin to provide adequate justice for our past and presents actions. The debt is so high, so painful, so atrocious. But I don’t think saying ‘all lives matter’ is an appropriate or sufficient response. From what I’ve read and what I feel, this minimises and dismisses the incredible misery and suffering of millions of people over centuries. It denies them being seen, our wrongdoing being acknowledged, and evades the need to make amends. I don’t think this is an issue we can quickly resolve. But we can each start to contribute to healing by challenging our own actions and beliefs, supporting the movement, truly listening to the voices of people of colour, and making necessary changes.
As a white woman growing up in the UK, I will never come close to understanding challenges black people have faced at the hands of white people. The generational trauma, fear, and oppression this could cause. But for as long as I remember I have been against racism, despite being surrounded by it. It made no sense to me, it’s very obviously untrue and unethical. I felt deeply connected to the movement, emotional and ashamed of my ancestor’s actions. I am truly so sorry for all you’ve experienced.
Yet, out of fear, I rarely spoke up around those who would make racist comments or jokes, or took direct action to change the system built on inequality and exploitation. I want to change that now, speaking up against all injustices, and taking action where I can. One thing we can all do it to educate ourselves… and this document is a good start.
Can we listen to the Other in this time of collective shadow work? Not just to respond, challenge, or tell them they’re wrong. But to truly hear their experience? To try to understand each other? In my opinion, this isn’t just important in overcoming racism but essential to communication with all our relations, our families, communities, humanity, animals, plants, mama Earth, and the wider Universe. Can we be responsible and learn to live in right relationship? I feel our survival depends on it.
I stand with you.
With love and rage,
*Not to dismiss the weight of the injustice or suffering we need to face, I think reparations are going to be a LONG process
Artwork by the wonderful Rosanna Morris. All credit and rights remain with the artist.