I feel totally helpless, unqualified to have an opinion, and really sad this week. It would be so easy to ignore the horror that is unfolding in America, and how it relates to long standing racism in Australia. I am using this letter to nut out my own feelings and for some good to come from my own little bubble.
I lead a life of relative ease. I have never experienced racism, but I have been a part of it. I have witnessed racism and not said or done anything. I have listened to others speak with racist over and undertones, and not spoken up and I have sat back and said ‘not my problem.’ Or ‘that is not really that bad.”
But I am part of the problem and I want to learn the best way to be a part of a solution. This is so as Lenny grows, and I grow, we are absolutely safe in the knowing that every single person on this earth is equal and should be treated as such. This learning holds ramifications for how we treat others – regardless of their origins, their gender or their sexual orientation.
I did a funny thing last week and stopped following a couple of amazing black women. I felt tired, I was a bit overwhelmed and I thought, I will get back to this work when I am ready. And then the most horrific events played out in the US and suddenly I was so very well aware of my rights and the advantages I have in my life simply because of the family I was born into – nothing special done here… I have not saved any lives or done anything particularly noteable. I have simply been handed an easy ride because I was born white in a country where the white voice is much more noisy than the black. And I feel sick about that.
So after the offhanded ‘Thank goodness I don’t live in America’ sentiments of last week, I began to really tune into why the crisis in that country is hitting me so hard.
I pulled up my big girl pants and thought, if it’s a simple case of feeling uncomfortable then so be it. My family is not being killed because of the colour of their skin. I am not being disadvantaged because of my race. And if reading and learning about the lives and experiences of black women will lead me to a greater understanding of the discrepancies and unfairness that exist in this world, then I can do it. If feeling sick and ashamed when I think about the racism that I have been a part of is tough, then it’s a walk in the park compared to the discrimination and every day violence that Indigenous people in Australia live with.
Adriene, of Yoga with Adriene fame wrote her newsletter this week and spoke of the discomfort…
But I also won’t be silent.
I support my black friends, the black community, our family, our global Kula.
I am upset, I am uncomfortable, I am disappointed, I am a bit lost, I am weary. And I think it’s important that I share that with you.
However, I am not going to pour my feelings out here, because, I choose to focus on how I can be useful.
I know that I have the privilege of learning about racism vs living it.
And I want to be more useful.
And I agree with her sentiments – I want to be useful. So let’s be frank…white people are not the experts when it comes to racism. So you will not be learning anything here. Learn it from the black and brown people who actually experience racism.
I could easily ignore this week’s news and write about something way easier (and trivial) but I am learning to use my voice and my ears. So instead I will leave the teaching to the experts. I have a number of recommendations below. And it’s a start.
In the meantime, I am sitting with all of the uncomfortable feelings at the moment. I’m doing my best and I am doing it from a place of love.
Reading and doing the work | Layla F Saad’s book ‘Me And White Supremacy’ is more like a self awareness project…and it’s not easy work for me. This journalling is really about taking stock of where I have come from – it’s bringing up really uncomfortable memories – but an awareness too of how I can do better.
Listening | To Constanza Eliana Chinea and all that she has to say. She is furious, fantastic and uses her experience in decolonization work while unpacking her own internalized oppression.
Subscribing | To The Daily Podcast. Start with this episode: The Latest From Minneapolis.
Knowing | That Michelle Obama speaks from the heart when she says “It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own.”
Make it five | This video moved me. And it showed the gatherings that are not making it to mainstream media, at least not where I am looking.
Ok one more | A new podcast is out this week ‘Always Our Stories.’ The first episode is with Isaiah Dawe who was raised in foster care, just as many Indigenous kids still are.
Image by Matthew Adekponya