Photo: Karina Jensen Photography
[ This is a continued article from @TheWanderingLioness ]
A lot of trauma has been surfacing for me these days. It has been made clear to me I still have A LOT of healing I need to do. Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, sadness have been boiling inside. A literal rollercoaster of emotions. I am not in the mental space to share a video to express myself as I typically would do. I thought it was best, and has been best for me these days to share in the form of blog posts.
A lot of harsh realities are making themselves known. Surprised? Shocked? At the silence from some…and then embarrassed to realize that there are people within my circles who are actually commenting, sharing, or posting racist beliefs and/or opinions. Supporting the views of white supremacy.
Are they aware of it? Do they actually think they are being helpful? Do they just feel empowered to openly share about their actual racist views? Or do they truly not realize that in fact they are behaving as a racist?
#BlackLivesMatter is not a trend. It is an international activist movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards Black people. It is not the belief that other lives do not matter. But Black lives do. I don’t feel it is up to me to educate. Quite frankly, I do not have the patience to educate and dig in to everything. I feel like I’ve been educating. I know I am connected with intelligent people who can sit down and really, really dive in and educate themselves, and the youth.
Brandon Kyle Goodman shared an awesome explanation….
I think some could perhaps be reacting on the defense?
There are many posts and articles circulating around about “white privilege”. Those conversations, topics, and terms are in no way discrediting what a white person has gone through personally in their life.
It does not mean you have not endured hardships as a human. It means that the life of a white person is not made harder based on the colour of their skin. And that can be a really tough pill to swallow.
Also please, PLEASE stop saying that racism doesn’t exist in Canada. Stop saying that what you see on the news happening in the US doesn’t happen in Canada. It may not be as extreme. But trust me, it exists. I mean, do you care to explain to me about my 30 years of experiencing racism? ….IN CANADA.
Racism happens everywhere, and has been happening for over 500 years.
I have lived my life with a particular level of privilege myself in the sense of my close proximity to the white community.
I myself am half white. I was born from a white parent. My mother is white. (Scottish-Canadian) and my father is black. (Trinidad) Myself, my brother, and my sister are all three different, beautiful shades of Black. We grew up in predominantly white communities and neighborhoods throughout Ontario, Canada and were educated at Catholic schools. Many, if not most of my friends were white. But still, I experienced so much racism in my youth, teens, and as an adult. Pockets of Ontario were not as multicultural as they may be present day. We moved around a lot, so arriving to new schools, often being the only Black kid in the class – I felt like I was this foreign being. Kids very openly and obliviously examining/judging my clothing. Kids wanting to touch my hair that clearly looked so different from theirs. Kids literally touching my arm, hand, leg, ect. As if my skin, shades darker than theirs would feel differently to them.
It seems harmless, but when you think of it you realize all of these children clearly were lacking the conversations in the home about diversity. Sure, many of them were being taught to treat others with love and respect – as equals. But were they really being educated on Black history? And even still, how many “casual racist” remarks did kids hear from their parents, or friends of their parents, and then repeat those same remarks to me. The funny thing is, they all clearly knew their “casual” or full blown racist remarks were hurtful. I could see it in their eyes. Whether they fully could comprehend what they were actually saying or not, they so clearly always KNEW they were hurting my feelings.
There is a video re-circulating from “CUT” which features Black parents and their young children sharing their discussions on “How To Deal With The Police”. You can view the video here. I clearly remember having these conversations with my father as a young girl. The reality is that almost 30 years later, I would still have to have that same conversation with my children. (if I had them) HOW IS THAT OUR REALITY?
My first experience with racism (that I can remember) happened when I was five years old. Five. I have many nieces and nephews who are around that age present day. And when I look at them, and imagine myself at that age, I think about how that major childhood trauma I experienced really did affect me.
Yes. I remember it very, very vividly. I was just a little nugget. Innocent, full of joy and bliss. Just imagine what it would feel as a five year old child to be told: “You aren’t allowed to come play in this fort.” (The sister of my friend at the time, created a fort/tent made from pillows, chairs, and blankets) “You aren’t allowed in. Niggers aren’t allowed. No Black People allowed”. She had drawn a sign. With a bunch of white people, and then a Black person, with a big x over her. (I assume that ‘her’ in the picture was me.)
I was five! (My friend’s sister would have been around 6? 7 years old?) And that was just the start. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many encounters of racism I have experienced over the years.
Fellow “self love/body acceptance” blogger Jessica Megan shared yesterday a few powerful posts that sat deeply with me. I burst into tears when I read them. Overwhelmed at the lack of awareness and support I was seeing within the influencer community, her post JUMPED out at me. She perfectly explained SO many of my emotions in just 10 Instagram slides.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again…the systems that govern us NEEDS to be restructured. We cannot have oppressors in power. We need to come TOGETHER, united for change to happen. It is not Black against White. It is not Black against the police. It is Black people against racism.
I know there are many, many massive battles to fight against the leaders and governments throughout the world. We need to win this battle first, so we can come together, with strength to fight the other battles.
Part of healing this trauma is decolonializing. rRecognizing that I have been silent myself, I have in this twisted way “normalized” moments of “casual racism” I have experienced. Or even in large scale racist attacks.
I have been raised to defend yourself when you need to but almost to be quiet in those moments to avoid conflict. Likely in fear, knowing if a situation was to escalate, we don’t typically have allys in law enforcement to help us in those times we would have needed them. I know not all law enforcement officers share those same racist beliefs, but when majority seem to and you have actually experienced it yourself, its difficult to navigate who would actually help you.
Part of my roller coaster of emotions is feeling helpless, unable to protest on the streets. Many of my white friends have expressed some of those same feelings. There are some other ways to help:
- Donate to bail and legal funds for protesters (I share a list below)
- Share and sign petitions
- Donate medical supplies, food, and water to protesters
- DO THE WORK! Educate! Research! There are plenty of resources out there to help educate. Read! Share! (I share a list below)
- Have anti racist conversations
- Call out “casual racism”
- Support Black Businesses, Artists, Authors, Activists ect.
- Check in on your Black friends, family, loved ones and colleagues. (Checking in means more than you can imagine. This is an emotional and traumatic time for the Black community. Ask how you can support them.)
- Do not centre this narrative around YOU. Check your ego.
I highly recommend you take this FREE workshop…
#DoTheWork Currated by Rachel E. Cargle
“To #DoTheWork one must be intentional in breaking down the systems that continue to oppress and disenfranchise the Black community with Black women being the most effected. Going through these daily prompts you will be called to think critically and act tangibly in solidarity. Participating in this will be your first small step in working towards dissolving these systems, institutions, and ideologies that continue to negatively affect Black women and their communities yet benefit white people in this country.“
It is an excellent, excellent resource.
Individual Bail Funds – For a complete list, click here
For more suggestions click here.
“The Breakdown” With Shaun King
“Why the Coronavirus is Hitting Black Communities The Hardest” (and many more episodes with NPR’s Code Switch)
“Can One Person Change The Criminal Justice System” – Next Questions with Katie Couric
“Here To Slay – the Black feminist podcast of your dreams,” Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom
“Dismantling White Fragility” The Goop Podcast
The Skin We’re In – Desmond Cole
Me and White Supremacy – Layla F Saad
So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colour-blindness – Michelle Alexander
How to be Anti Racist – Ibram X Kendi
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson
There is clearly much work to be done. And I just heard this : “It’s not about blame. It’s about action.” I am so hopeful. And we cannot lose hope. I truly admire, respect, and appreciate the work that the Black, and non Black people are doing in the streets and online to raise awareness and to fight for justice. And hope this sense of urgency continues!
We (myself included) need to remember that rest is also important.
Self care, prayer, and spiritual practice is essential so that we can stay strong, healthy and focused for the journey ahead. I’ve been trying to stay balanced with meditation, yoga, breath work, journaling, and funny shows/movies on Netflix 😁 I haven’t had much of an appetite, but trying to still provide my body with nourishment – especially staying hydrated. A lot has happened over the weeks, and I am sure many of you like myself have been deeply triggered. Take the time you need to heal.
Sending you love and hugs.