Humble Moments: With Liberty and Justice For All?
I know your inbox and feed are overflowing with information, so while I hesitated to send this letter, it would feel like a disservice not to speak to the revolution that is unfolding in response to justified grief and outrage over the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black individuals in our country. I recognize, with even more sadness, that these horrific events are not isolated, but symptoms of a much larger, broken and racist system that we must ALL work to change.
We are past a breaking point. Socially, economically, ecologically; we are living in a tangled and terrifying mess of intersecting crises... all centered around the unequal distribution of resources and blatant abuse of power. Knowing how to help is overwhelming, but the only answer to these painful realities are answering the mounting call to action.
For the last ten years, I have been working and researching in the fields of education, consciousness, and holistic wellness. The events of late have only reiterated the necessity of sharing work in these fields as I more clearly see their intersection with social justice and economic empowerment. These practices and ongoing paths of inquiry, along with some of the brilliant flashes of human heroism we are glimpsing, give me hope that we are beginning to move the needle of awareness.
Perhaps we are planting the seeds of change that future generations can harvest?
But, there is much to do. We must work harder to recognize and dismantle systemic racism. We must renvision and rebuild the systems whose very conception were built on the praise of white supremacy. In the unfolding traumatic realities of 2020 so far, no words from a single white woman will aid change in this movement, but talking about where we are is a step toward where we need to go.
It's time for all of us to step up.
Never have so many people shared so much collective attention and immediate access to information. Surely these are some of the silver linings we can trace to necessary social, economic, and political change.
I am committed to educating myself on how to be anti-racist, on how to be an ally and a peaceful change-maker. I don't pretend that reading and studying will fill the growing role we are all being called to step into. A willingness to have uncomfortable conversations with each other is a basic baseline. We must learn how to take increasing, organized action, but first let us listen. Let us learn, unlearn, relearn and above all learn to lean on each other as we do. Obviously this is a process, but an urgent one that has many pressing issues hanging in the balance.
Our attention belongs to the purpose of solving the overwhelming, overarching problems we are handing to future generations. We must each better prioritize steps that aid in our own unique contribution to this deferred collective revolution.
There is so much happening. It's too easy to want to numb it away, and to distract ourselves. This is where self-care comes in. I hope you can learn to be present with it. Learn yourself and your needs. Open your mind and your heart to the needs beyond yourself. Know that small steps to leave this Earth a little better than how you found it can compound. Read. Research. Ask hard questions of yourself. Be curious. Be kind.
It's like we're all stepping back into kindergarten and learning this world anew because whether you're ready or not, it's changing. Don't hide, seek. Let's all move forward, together and let's not kid ourselves that it's going to get a lot harder before it gets better.
Expect that you are not going to feel comfortable for a long time. If you are white, this won't even come close to the pain and discomfort of being Black and discriminated against or brutalized for the color of your skin... nor to the pain of losing a child or a lifetime of struggle because the world in which you live was designed to hold you back. This is the implicit bias all people of color face everyday: the white world that white people have chosen not to see because it's not in our favor and even if we see it, its uncomfortable to begin changing. But, that's maybe the only good news of 2020: no one is comfortable. Let's use this time to be a little more forward thinking, and continue unraveling the status quo because that's in everyone's favor (except if you happen to Donald Trump or his two remaining supporters).
Almost exactly six years ago, the great Maya Angelou, passed away. At the time, I was processing a lot of personal trauma and her words had always brought me deep comfort. Her departure from this Earth rocked me more than I was prepared for: to have such impactful, wise creativity and palpable love for humanity depart this Earth (even naturally) is a heartache infinitely amplified as I reflect on the brutal killings of so many Black people for no reason. Nia Wilson, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and SO many more who have been murdered-- many by police -- and all of which have been utterly failed by the justice system.
These wrongs cannot continue to be overlooked.
As the words of the poem I wrote for Angelou six year ago still echo in my mind, more poems bubble up from my depths of my soul in these times of churning unrest.
I can only hope this time is a starting point of our collective transformation.
As we each learn how to find our role in the Black Lives Matter movement, and each navigate the necessary work of dismantling racism inside our minds, hearts and social systems, we must continue to lean into the discomfort.
While this intention from one is like a drop in the bucket, together we can form an ocean of change, positioned to wash over our festering social systems to begin a fresh new take on what America is supposed to stand for: a true democratic republic run for the people, by the people with liberty and justice for all.
I'm not speaking as someone who has many answers nor as one who has arrived at role-model-ship of unpacking her own white privilege. I am, however, showing up as a woman who cares deeply about humanity, as someone who is driven by my passion and experience working with youth, and who is committed to supporting my friends, family, the Black community, and ALL people in finding healing and transformation. I hope you will join me in this commitment.
Our future and the world that our children will inherit depends on it.
Here are some resources to read, discuss, and share:
LA Time Article on How white people can be allies amid the George Floyd Protests
Resources for Parents + Educators:
Social Justice Resources from Children's Community School
Teaching Tolerance website
Organizations to Support with Donations:
Urban University, Oakland (source of image featured here)
Are you a Black business owner?
The awesome contributors of the Women’s Sound Off Website is compiling a list of Black Bay Area Businesses to go on the , doc coming soon, but please submit your own business below in the form!
I have also been posting resources and ways to begin helping on my Instagram stories @vitalifestyledesign as well as @luna.sola.vita and @cosmickids.community.
I will continue amplifying Black stories, voices and businesses as I learn how to direct my research efforts into initiatives and collaborations that have more of direct impact in the Bay Area as well as our global community. The image for this post came from Urban University (@urbanuniversityoakland), a nonprofit supporting single mothers transitioning off of public assistance.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions and feedback.