I am a spiritual teacher.
I am a leader of women.
I am a priestess.
I am an advocate for the Earth.
I am a woman who cherishes all life.
And I am a racist.
I am a racist because I was born into a tightly-woven, deeply embedded web of systemic racism that has spanned over 400 years and been upheld to such a degree that I wasn’t consciously aware of it. Though I did not choose this, it is so. And now that I’m aware of it, I take responsibility for it. I own it. When I own it, I can educate myself. I can make changes that need to be made. I can take actions that support change in the systems that continue to uphold racism. I can use my white privilege to speak out about it. I can share what I’m learning with other white people. And that’s exactly what I’m choosing to do.
A lightning bolt
This was not a gradual process of understanding for me. It was a lightning bolt. Once that lightning bolt hit me, there was no turning back. I’m grateful to the sisters of color who took the time and energy to mirror my ignorance to me. Once the lightning bolt hit, the things that I have been feeling, but not understanding, throughout my entire life at a subconscious level could rise to inform me. My white silence, apathy, and complicity. My white privilege. My white superiority. My white fragility. My tone policing. Most especially, my white exceptionalism (thinking I’m not a racist).
The first thing I got to do was sit with the guilt. To feel immense shame for being white. The guilt and shame were overwhelming and it would have been so easy to freeze right there and slide right back into silence and apathy. That is not what I chose. And in my willingness to feel my feelings, a hot, volcanic rage rose up in me. I chose to speak up, even if I said something wrong. I chose to hear, feel, and receive the pain of my Black, Indigenous, and People of Color sisters and brothers. I chose to stand strong enough to receive feedback, corrections, and call-outs. I chose, and continue to choose, not to defend my white privilege.
Racist does not equal “bad person”
If you are white, you are a racist. That does not mean you are a bad person, not one bit. It means that you too were born into a tightly-woven, deeply embedded web of systemic racism that has spanned over 400 years and been upheld to such a degree that you weren’t consciously aware of it. If this offends you, so be it. Let it shake you to the core… let it break through your walls. It’s time to take a stand for the truth, and the truth is hard. It hurts. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color have experienced through being marginalized, shamed, murdered, beaten down, enslaved, oppressed, imprisoned, demeaned, cheated of their humanity, and kept small.
Spiritual bypass won’t cut it
This is not a time for spiritual bypass. You can’t have “love, light, and unity” without purging everything that does not serve those ideals. If love, light, and unity is all it takes, why do the violent murders of Black people continue to happen? What is needed right now is for each of us white people to do the deep inner shadow work to free ourselves from the beliefs and directives of systemic racism that we inherited from generations upon generations of our white ancestors. This requires a fierce willingness to face ugly truths within ourselves. This is not a time to point fingers outside ourselves. This is not about the KKK or Trump or the alt-right.
We simply cannot claim to be “spiritual” when other people have boots on the back of their necks. I mean that both literally and metaphorically. Lightworkers and healers talk a lot about the ascension of the planet and creating a new earth, and I am one of them. But when I got my lightning bolt, I realized that I am not whole. That our society is not whole. That our planet and her people cannot ascend and create a new earth at the same time that atrocities are being perpetrated. I have been complicit in the perpetration of these atrocities. And if you are white, so have you.
It’s time to get really, really humble. More humble than we’ve ever been. To listen to Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color, including their rage and their pain. To feel the feelings and discomfort that all of this brings up. To dig deeper into our defensiveness when it comes up, and it WILL come up. To stop and look inside and FEEL instead of acting on that defensiveness. TO GET REAL about racism. There is a powerful reality staring us in the face right now, and it cannot be ignored. Be strong. Be fierce. Be courageous. Cultivate your resilience.
If we are willing to do this work, face these ugly truths, and stand up for what’s right, over and over, for the rest of our lives, we have a real chance to make massive change. Long overdue change. If you want to live in a world where there is peace, equality, and freedom, the work begins within you. It’s up to us white people to end systemic racism.
To my Black, Indigenous, and People of Color brothers and sisters:
Please forgive me.
I love you.*
*From the Hawai’ian practice of Ho’oponopono, with an acknowledgment that this practice has been culturally appropriated.
If you are ready to learn more about systemic racism, please read “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo and “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.” The book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo is written by a white woman to call her white peers to do our work in this fight for systemic justice. Sometimes white people can hear things about racism better when spoken by a white person. That list will get you started and lead you to many more resources with which to educate yourself.
With love and blessings, Amrita