The uncomfortable truth of how I see the world
The world I believe is possible is rooted in my heart. In my love of life and of people. My love of ideas. It’s rooted in the experiences that I’ve had sitting in circles with beautiful people, diving into our emotions, challenges, hopes, joys, and fears. It’s based in state experiences triggered by movement, intimate connection, and synthetic and natural medicines. This world is rooted in the possibilities that have emerged as I’ve read countless books, been to conferences and on retreats, studied with wonderful teachers, and moved thorugh multiple communities of practice.
And it is rooted in my whiteness.
It is my whiteness that allows me to a pollyanna. My whiteness allows me to dream big, to see past the world’s pain and oppressive systems — pain and systems that I not only don’t have to feel, but get to benefit from — toward something that is more beautiful.
Octavia Butler wrote the Earthseed books — a story about a young Black woman, Lauren Olamina, coming of age in a post-apocalyptic America. The world she envisioned — where this young Black woman would rise to be an awe-inspiriting leader — was one of collapse. Of doom. Of rampant violence. Honestly, it’s a world that feels a bit close for comfort these days.
I think about the work of activists and teachers like Aaron Johnson and Porsha Beed of Holistic Resistance, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and engaging with this past weekend. They are standing in what I can only image to be incredibly challenging work. A core part of their work is going into rooms of white people to talk about racism. This can be a violent place for them. I won’t pretend or attempt to put words into their mouths; and I heard them reference the ways that their lives have been put in danger on a regular basis. Simply for living their lives. I would think that they seek a different world first as a survival mechanism1.
In other words, there’s not much room for being a pollyanna when one steps out of the bubble of privledge I’ve occupied my entire life. I’m not sharing this to shame myself or to make anything I’ve done wrong. I’m simply feeling the need to name it. As I reflect on this, it’s clear to me that it’s important that I begin to talk about the world I see in a very different way. I need to be aware the way I’ve talked about it centers whiteness, and minimizes the ways that those not within my bubble of privilege, most notably BIPOC folks. I want to talk about it in a way that lifts up these voices that are all too often set aside. And I want to ensure that I’m conscious of how folks who don’t live in this bubble of privilege may experience hearing what I am saying.
Friends, this is messy. Make no mistake. That said, it’s the only way we can move forward. One step at a time. One story at a time. It doesn’t always have to be mine.
I think it’s important to name that I’m talking about the experience of Black, Indigenous people’s, and People of Color here, but there are many others who are outside of the bubble of privledge that I occupy. This includes LGBTQIA folks, the disabled, women and more. The Holistic Resistance folks engage around these issues as well. For example, their team member Dylan Wilder Quinn is a trans-activist who is doing deep anti-racism work. There are a lot of complexities within this work. That said, it’s actually accessible if we’re willing to step into the discomfort of it.↩