March 26, 2020
If you understand your personal, institutional or social power and privilege to be tied to white supremacist culture (WSC) and racism or internalized racism, you might not want see that culture end. But if you (re)define yourself within a racial/black liberation strategy, and unpack white dominated identity structures, you can align yourself with racial justice. Re-definition allows realigning values with ones actions.
White people have to ask what is the status of my anti-racism? What have I done this week or today to focus my racial justice lens? How have I challenged WSC practices or shifted the cultural narrative of stealing, violence, dominance and divisiveness, etc.? How have I cut through emotional repression, complicity through silence, and denial of my role in perpetuating racial injustice today? How am I divesting myself from the perpetuation of colonialism, war and violence? When did I challenge us/them or blame and shame narratives that help entrench cultural isolation and denial this week?
POCs can ask what have we done in the last week to create healing around racial trauma? How have I reduced the distance between myself and other POCs? What have I read about racial justice in the last week? When did I challenge us/them or blame and shame narratives that help entrench cultural isolation and denial? What am I doing to uplift solidarity and confidence among Black and Brown youth? How am I healing the inter-generational divisions in my community? How am I addressing status seeking opportunism in my community? How am I divesting myself from the perpetuation of capitalism? How am I building solidarity beyond my own community with other communities of color?
As a world, we are moving into a different age. The birth pains of bringing the new world into existence are related to letting go of old habits, patterns and attachments to illicit power and ill-gotten goods. Reckoning with the past is still necessary. Restoring justice for this new world means repairing broken and damaged relationships. It means building bridges across the structural divisions created by hyper-segregation and other structures of domination. To do this we have to develop clarity. That clarity involves unpacking the ways our identity is substantiated within illicit relations of power. We need to ask again and again “Who am I?” and “What am I?” within a liberation narrative? What am I doing to build a world where that narrative thrives?
We will not gain a sense of our place within a liberation narrative if we are unable recognize our hand in upholding narratives of domination. We have to choose. What does that choice really mean in practical day to day terms? Among other things, it means making day to day decisions that reflect black/brown solidarity or co-conspirator politics. Along this journey to liberation our ability to shift this culture is made more and more possible with each decision to choose freedom over fear, openness over denial, and sharing over greed.
This transitional time invites us to embrace a new set of possibilities, one grounded in honesty, connection and kindness. There is no reason to look beyond the present set of circumstances and resources to make this leap into something new. In fact, everything we need to accomplish it exists within us and all around us at every given moment. We are being challenged to look carefully into our situation as it is. We are looking into our own worthiness, resourcefulness and fearlessness. What does that journey entail? What is the full measure of our human inheritance?
All of us have work to do to recover from the dehumanization that our society has demanded. The cruelty and ignorance that comes from being racist or living in a racist society causes dehumanization. That has to be repaired. The deep patterns of harm are invested in our institutions, all of our institutions. Those have to be replaced. For some of us, healing may mean appreciating ourselves more. It may mean listening to our own advice. It might mean really finding out what self-empathy feels like. Whatever the path of healing entails, let us decide. We don’t have to wait for freedom. Decide.