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This article is Part Three of a Series on Sacred Activism.
Part One | Part Two | Racism Unlearning List

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{TRIGGER WARNING: there’s no elegant way to talk about racism and murder. please read with extreme self-care}

It’s a black heart kinda day. Because no matter how much change we feel we’ve collectively spoken to in these past years – much more needs to be done. Because People are still dying on the streets in the most random, disrespectful kind of ways. Saying His Name To Not Erase Him In A Wide Sweep Of Horror: George Floyd. Your death was uncalled for. Your death could have been avoided.

The Wide Sweep Of Horror

The reality of this world is this: day after day after day, we are witnesses. To acts that blatantly show imbalance and horror. Where the general tone of message is this: ‘your life doesn’t matter, to me’.

Today, I feel the weight of it all. How discouraging things look. How a surge of change is followed with more of the same old shit. How it’s all such a mess, and there’s no clear clean lines between those who commit harm, and those who don’t. Because we all do. And that’s something I’ve been thinking about. All the ways in which I do harm. All the ways in which I contribute unknowingly to systematic harm. So that’s where I invite us to go, today, together.

It’s Okay That It Feels Hard.

Reading the news about Racist murders (and all the other things) is hard. But here’s the thing: it’s okay that it feels hard. And it doesn’t mean that we should stop reading.

As a collective, we’re LIVING the upheaval that comes with change.

So, yes, it makes sense that it feels hard.
🖤 We are talking about bearing witness to how humans are willfully causing death, valuing another human’s life as less than.
🖤 We are talking about feeling grief and anger and rage and not quite knowing what to do with it all.
🖤 We are talking about stumbling our way around the interwebs, trying to make things feel better by expressing grief, outrage, support.
🖤 And we are talking about the shock at being then called out for the ways we are expressing – being told it bypasses the real experience of so many people – and that in turn feels like a negation of how much we genuinely care.

AND:

Feeling The Grief? Is actually a good thing.


Being Called Out? Is also a good thing.

We are PROCESSING. And learning how to grieve again, within a culture where grief has been banished to the shadowlands (sidenote: if you are feeling the intensity of grief, I highly recommend that you listen to Episode 002 of The Sovereign Sessions Podcast. I talk about the need for grieving, and walk you through 7 Practices To Transmute Your Grief so you can work from it rather than be frozen by it).

Also, the grief is our gateway into a deeper understanding of what we value. We’re coming to clarity with what we are willing to witness, and what not. We are learning that we are really not okay with lives being destroyed in such careless of ways.

We are LEARNING. We won’t stop learning until we have fully formed into a new societal and structural way of relating to each other, caring for and caring about each other. Where we value each other’s lives as much as our own, collectively.

So, in the process of creating THAT, we are all being called up to do better – whilst navigating the shock of SEEING, for the first time, how we’re all complicit. How we all do harm without knowing. How we thought and intended to be the change, positively, whilst actually also reinforcing the status quo through our own blind spots.

We are learning to hold space for our own grief and shock and rage. And for those of us who don’t live the actual experience (of facing racism, or mysogyny, of exclusion in the myriad of other ways), we’re also learning how to actually make a positive difference, in this case, be a well-informed ally who knows the power of words and actions, and wields both of these wisely.

How To Be An Ally As A White-Skinned Person In The Face Of Racism

To the white women (and men and differently-identifying people) in this space, I want to acknowledge that things may feel confusing, overwhelming and difficult for you, too. We’re moving from idealistic, hazy visions of what change could look like, into the actual hard-core lived experience of it. And it’s calling us up in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

There’s a couple of things I want to say about this, and there’s also practical resources further down.


01. this may feel triggering to you, and, to me it’s a reality check that is needed for all of us to keep us focused on the work that matters now: what you may be  feeling right now (grief, shame, confusion, fear, overwhelm, anxiety) is what our black sisters, brown sisters, and sisters of colour have been feeling on the daily

What that means, from my perspective, based on the conversations I’ve had and have witnessed, is that we’re being asked to take radical responsibility for our own mental and emotional well-being. we cannot come into the space and collapse – because that puts the labour in our sisters’ laps (and that’s not where their focus is required).

It doesn’t mean that how you feel as a white woman isn’t justified, or has no place, or that there’s no other option but to carry additional shame and guilt for ‘not coping’. It does mean that as white women, we have to lean into each other’s support.



02. we’re in this for the long run.

It’s important that we really let that sink in. Yes, things are intense right now and there is so much you can do. Do those things. Also, stay grounded and centered in your awareness, that we need the body to be able to do these things. Make sure your body is well hydrated, that you don’t push it beyond its capacity for absorbing new information, that you keep breathing deeply and recentering yourself. Do something physical that soothes and rebalances your nervous system. We’ll need all our voices, at their full capacity, for a while longer.



03. we have a lot of self-education to do.

What I’ve learned about this:

  • choose to learn from black educators, brown educators and people of colour educators. They teach from lived experiences. It’s also a way to put our money where our intention is. Educators are people who have explicitly announced that they are using their platform to educate. Sometimes through coaching programmes and workshops, sometimes through IG.
     
  • engage with your actual communities and friends, listen with curiosity and non-bias, be mindful not to center your own experiences or to assume it’s the same for them as for you. Also be mindful of asking them if they are willing to engage in deeper conversations with you: you can ask, they have the right to say no. not everyone wants to be an educator.
     
  • use the resources and learnings from other white people as an additional entry-point (but not the only or main one). I’ve started bringing together some of the resources I’ve been using to self-educate here. Please note, it’s a work in progress and there’s more that needs to be added to it. You’re welcome to use it as is. I’d suggest starting with Black People & People Of Colour Offering Education and To Listen & Watch.

It’s a gift to us that there are so many black people and people of colour taking to social media and sharing from a space of such willingness to offer education and insights. If this is a possibity for you, please support their voices and their work.

Please join me in educating yourself. Holding us all in love. Thank you for being willing to do the work. Kx ♥

This is Part 03 in a Series on Sacred Activism. Read Part 01 here.

Big Love to you beautiful. Kx

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CLICK THROUGH TO READ: On Grief, Racism & Change, and How To Move Forward As A White Ally {the Sacred Activism series}. With fierce love, Kath - kathleensaelens.com

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