on white privilege

White folks – before you react, please take a deep breath and pour yourself a cup of tea.  We need to chat.

First, let’s take a moment to discuss this statement.  Saying that black lives matter is not saying that others lives do not.  It is calling attention to a problem, and America, boy do we have a problem.  You would not get in someone’s face who is holding a ‘save the rainforest sign’ screaming ‘what about all the forests!’  All the forests are not being ravaged the way the rainforests are, and they would be trying to raise awareness about that.

Your white skin grants you many privileges.

It’s a privilege to turn off the news.

To be ‘sick of politics’, to not want to get involved, to not vote.

To look away.

To stay silent.

It is a privilege to not fear for your life at a traffic stop, or have to cops called on you for standing in white spaces, or to have your treaties be dishonored yet again, to have your sacred land dismantled and drilled, to have your child (who, by the way, came here for asylum running from a problem that the US played a role in creating) taken from you and put in a cage because our president sees you as animals.

Our history books give a glossy, romanticized version of how this country was built.  This country was built on the American dream and ingenuity, yes, but it was built on colonization, genocide, and the labor of human slaves.  We are not so far removed from that, the cultural damage still runs deep in the bones of both the oppressed and the oppressor.  Our whiteness has always benefited from and continues to benefit from this system.  Systemic racism has been ingrained in all of us, whether you are a clan member or a yogi.

Spiritual white folks, we need to take a look at ourselves too.  We burn our sage and sell shamanic healing and participate in a multibillion dollar yoga industry and drink plant medicine and eat imported acai berries without any obligations to the plants, cultures, land, or indigenous people who are exploited daily to keep the world at our fingertips.  You may promote ideas such as ‘I don’t see color’ (which is really saying you don’t see/value people of color for who they are), or all we need is love (love is paramount, yes, but that’s glossing over issues of oppression), or you choose your experience/choose your suffering (gaslighting, spiritual bypassing, victim blaming).

If you are feeling offended, angry, or feel the need to defend yourself as a good white person – this is our white fragility, and we really need to swallow our pride and let that shit go.  The idea here is not to spiral into shame, self-loathing or paralyzing guilt – it is to be an ever-diligent seeker of truth.  Forgive yourself for taking so long to show up at the table and have the humility to continuously learn and grow.  Drop your defenses and LISTEN before you jump in with the reasons why you are one of the good white people, or with bogus statistics or stereotypes, or with ‘facts’ that you haven’t taken the time to investigate.  Like anything, this starts with you – take a good hard look at how you have benefited from privilege, in what ways you still benefit from privilege, the ways in which you perpetuate racism.  Social media rage isn’t enough, we have got to get in the ring and join the fight… if you have a platform to speak from, use it.  Speak up about things you see happening that you know are not right.  Find out what is going on in your community.  Support black/brown/indigenous teachers, businesses, and organizations.  Put your money and support where your mouth is.  Work to decolonize your mind, food, and medicine.

Speak up and get LOUD.  You are going to fuck up, you will piss people off, you may lose some friends or followers, you may not get invited to Thanksgiving dinner.  That’s OK.  It’s a small price to pay for our moral obligation to each other.  If you truly believe that all lives matter, than you have to support and uplift ALL lives.

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