Pausing for an Emotional Assessment
How are you feeling right now? About George Floyd? About our race relations in the United States? About the protests? About the riots? About our President’s response? About the looting?
It’s a lot. We are feeling a lot right now. Some of us are confused and looking to leaders for an interpretation of what is happening. Some of us are angry at those cops for killing another black man. Some of us are outraged that people have turned violent and are burning and looting our cities. And some think people are overreacting to all of this and people need to simmer down.
Reflecting on Systemic Bias
White people like order. We like people to follow the rules of society. We get mad when people break those rules. “They deserve what they get if they are going to behave that way.” White people, this is privilege. This is violence. The rules of society were made for us. They are enforced quite differently for black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).
The un-uniform enforcement of rules is what caused the rioting. Why should BIPOC follow the rules when doing so does not bring justice for them? When they are arrested for no reason. When they are killed in the street by people whose job it is to serve and protect. When they are shot in their bed in the middle of the night. When they are killed in their own apartment.
Our country has a set of rules for white people and an unwritten set for BIPOC. When something happens that outrages us white people, like the murder of George Floyd on the street, we pay attention for minute. We express our anger, sadness, outrage and then we expect justice to take its course. BIPOC do not expect justice, they have no faith the officers involved will be charged, let alone serve time.
It took two months for the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery to be arrested and only after the video evidence was released to social media. And even if the officer is held accountable, nothing really changes. There are other officers and citizens who step in and repeat the injustice.
BIPOC are exhausted. The energy it requires for them to live in this society is something I cannot even begin to imagine. The vast majority are following the rules and it does not matter, they are being killed in the streets anyway.
Reflect, Inquire and Examine
What will it take for our country to finally end its 400-year history of racism? I believe it heals when we can come together with the BIPOC to end the unequal application of law, justice, and economics. In order to do that, we need to root out our own biases and heal our own wounds of racism. This is where our healing needs to begin.
We begin by examining our hearts
- How am I feeling about what has happened this week?
- Can I put myself in the shoes of a BIPOC and feel what that might be like?
- How would I feel if my father/ brother/ sister/ mother was shot in the back during a routine traffic stop?
- What does my heart need to feel safe?
- How can I nurture myself back to my center?
Then, we examine our minds
- We find someone safe and talk about our experiences with BIPOC growing up and how race was explained to us.
- We talk about the messages we received from our parents, our teachers, our textbooks, our community, the unspoken as well as the spoken.
- We examine our own bias, acknowledge it fully so we can begin to process the healing.
Finally, we explore our Spirit
This trauma and abuse has been happening to the African American community in the United States for over 400 years. Our ancestors wounds are held within our own DNA, passed down to each generation until they are healed. The ancestors are always in relationship with us whether we are aware of it or not. They could use our help healing from their wounds around race. Much benefit will come to us when we clear the baggage of generations of Americans.
As a healer and a teacher, I want to encourage people to be vulnerable, stay with this even when we want to look away, and do the deep work of healing racial bias because this is how we free ourselves. And as we each free ourselves, we heal our country.
Our country’s laws and systems were built on white supremacy and that bias lives deep within each of our psyches and DNA. It is time, past time, to unravel these knots. Our souls suffer greatly under the weight of the wound of racism.
An (Incomplete) List of Resources
Implicit Bias Test developed by Harvard University. It helps you see things about yourself that maybe you haven’t been aware of before: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
Unpacking Whiteness: Seeing Race Workshop, June 8 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm, $89.00