We’re on the edge of a cliff. We can either fly and transcend or fall off the ledge. Almost like The Fool card in the tarot deck. We’re hitting a point where we have to make a decision and need to do so with a clear mind, free of naïveté. We can no longer brush away the subconscious thoughts lying dormant in the collective conscious that fire to life around a specific subset of people. It’s time for this all to move into the conscious state so we can face the systemic racism prevalent in society head-on. I feel like the reaction many are having is similar to me – I don’t want this darkness, but instead of ignoring it and pretending it’s not there, I’m going to bring it into the light and give it a thorough examination.
Racism is a strong word and one I wouldn’t use to describe myself, but this past week has dredged up a lot of introspection to see how that word fits within my world. Where has any amount of racism or bias crept in throughout my life? When? Why? I’m realizing it’s in the small moments, where judgments can sweep in without even realizing it. It’s a reminder of how cognizant and present I need to be each and every day in order to do better.
It’s hard to think of myself as anything but fair, accepting, and good. I try really hard to be a good person and thinking about having any hints of racism within me makes me feel that any good that was there is completely eradicated. It’s a tough moment of reflection. The shame and guilt are hard things to come face-to-face with. It’s much easier to sit in the light and see only the positives, but sitting in the discomfort of darkness is crucial for any change to occur.
I could say any bias comes from where and how I grew up, culture, media, or any number of things. But the thing is, it doesn’t really matter where those prejudices come from. What matters is that I do the work to become aware of the fact that they’re there, work with and on those present in myself, and then act. That’s how I can do my part to create change, in even a minor way. But the work has and will always start with myself. So many people are jumping into action without first examining themselves and figuring out how they contribute to the problem. How their privilege contributes. How they are the problem.
This requires a high degree of introspection and self-awareness that is downright uncomfortable and hard. This is the work they talk about in a spiritual practice times one hundred. This is the work we don’t want to confront because it’s in the darkest of shadows. But the shadows are there and they aren’t going to just go away because you choose to take action in the world. Because action isn’t authentic if it’s not coming from a healed and empowered place. I won’t pretend these years of racism instilled in society will go away with a few days or a few weeks of work. It’s a much-needed start though.
I also recognize my beliefs and what works for me isn’t true for everyone. Perhaps action inspires internal change for some and I respect that. For me, I know that I need to do the deep work inside myself and have tough conversations with myself and those around me before feeling like I have much to offer to the greater cause. It’s educating myself through the resources around me, signing petitions, reaching out to leaders in charge, and donating what I can. That’s the action I feel I’m able to contribute right now. I can and will continue to do more. I commend everyone who is being called to heal themselves and heal the world through actions, big and small.
I am navigating this as best as I can. To say this has all been a wake-up call is an understatement. It’s a jolt to my system and I hope the world’s system. I berate myself for being naive for far too long. Then, I give myself grace and compassion. I remind myself to operate from a place of loving kindness, especially to myself. I’ve found you go much further stemming from and acting from a place of love.
It’s going to be a long road. My hope going forward is that no one will ever forget black lives matter. This won’t be a temporary movement, but an ongoing pursuit until justice is made. Until no one forgets to celebrate black lives and lift them up. Until we create a world where black people feel safe, loved, and empowered. That’s the kind of world I hope we can all build. Together.