Racial healing is deep and necessary work. I’m doing mine and it ain’t easy to see the racism in me, in my past, and in the lineage of my ancestors. It’s easier to see racism “out there”. It’s been rampant on the continent on which I live since Christopher Columbus landed here on the shores of what he thought was India, thus naming the native people of this land “Indians” and referring to them as “savages”. That was only the beginning of his dehumanizing the original people of “Turtle Island” that made way for him and his fellow Europeans to commit genocide.
I find that facing the racism within me head-on with my heart is the way to feel it, forgive it, and release it, tears and all.
To heal systemic racism, it is ever so necessary that white people do this work, that we do it within ourselves. If you’re white, are you with me? Are you doing yours, or are you willing to?
I’ll always remember the diversity training I organized years ago at the YWCA where I worked. The moment I remember most is when the trainers I hired, an African American married couple, informed us that “all people of the dominant paradigm are inherently racist, but can become anti-racist”.
How can I become the best anti-racist I can be?”, I asked Milagros Phillips in our class last night.
(I asked that question because I need to take this healing deeper than I ever have before. These times call for it. The times always have called for white people to do the work to weed out and end racism. We’ve had so many opportunities to, yet we’ve blown them. And now, so many more of us are waking up and deciding to stay awake, so let’s do this critical work, white people!)
The answer I received from Milagros? By healing the racism in ourselves. That is the first step. Well, maybe the second because the first step requires that we admit to ourselves that the disease of racism exists within us.
Let’s get over the denial, y’all.
I say humbly and with tears that I am off my high horse of thinking I’m an ally to people of color and indigenous people. Yes, I speak out on their behalf when I witness a white person being a racist asshole. Yes, I speak up when I witness a white person using their white privilege over someone without it. And yes, I even risked getting arrested recently by an act of uncivil disobedience to support local Indigenous people. So, yes, I interrupt racism “out there”, but the harder work is in here, within me.
Healing the racism in me is not an event nor an act to prove anything to anyone. It’s a process, a profound one at that, and one I am actively engaged in. Anybody with me?