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As nationwide protests continue to erupt throughout cities small and large in the wake of the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more, hard and important conversations have taken hold. Conversations about systemic racism and white terrorism. About police brutality and militarized violence. About collective rage pushed to the brink from centuries of oppression in a country that was founded on genocide and slavery, on stolen Indigenous land and on the backs of enslaved people stolen from Africa.
This moment deserves space. This moment demands attention. This podcast is my imperfect attempt to hold that space by offering thoughts on how to use radical mindfulness + thoughtwork to rewire our internal biases and internalized racism, so that we can move toward anti-racism work and social justice action.
Here’s the deal: by being born in a society where white supremacy is the bedrock – one in which we are taught negative messages about Black and Brown people and positive messages about white people – racist thoughts and ideologies are taught to us (whether intentionally or not) from a VERY young age.
Sometimes we are not even aware of these thoughts we hold and did not consciously choose. But just because we did not consciously choose them does not mean they do not exist.
Many people who hold societal positions of unearned power and privilege – white people in particular – only begin to question or deconstruct these racist ideologies and systems once they grow older; some never do. People of color – and Black people in particular – are not often afforded the same luxury. Because structural racism, and the generational trauma of racial violence, is woven into the very fabric of their lives and daily experience From. Day. One.
In truth, white supremacy and systemic racism hurts everybody – but in different ways and to obvious, varying degrees of violence. To believe the burden of “undoing” or “solving” racism falls on Black folks or people of color and not white people, is to be sorely mistaken. The same goes for social justice and anti-racism work.
EVERYONE must take an active role to combat injustice.
The process of UNlearning internal bias and racism takes WORK. It is not pretty. It is not easy. It takes risks. And it looks different for everybody.
I want to invite you to do the work in the way that you can show up.
Many people also don’t take action or speak up because they are afraid of doing it “wrong” or of being criticized or judged.
You have to be willing to feel negative emotions to do hard things – like anti-racism and social justice work.
As a coach, so much of what I teach is that we need to learn to be uncomfortable. That’s why so much of my work is around building emotional resilience. Because being uncomfortable is where the true growth happens.
And what I’ve seen is that, for the long-haul, we need to also change our beliefs – (thoughts that we’ve had over and over again).
One of the main purposes of our practice is to encourage you to investigate your mind, to be with emotions like shame and guilt, to see the results they are creating in your life, and to ask yourself if you want to continue that way.
The Buddha taught, “You are not your thoughts”. And thoughts and actions are not the same.
We need to be willing to not identify with our thoughts so that we can work with them.
When we can admit that we have prejudiced thoughts, then we can take the next steps.
We need more people taking action.
What will lead to productive and sustainable action?
For me, radical mindfulness is a tool for individual liberation that leads us to more skillful action for social justice.
I want to encourage you, as my teacher Geshe Tsultrim Gyelsten said, to “Check your mind.” See your internal biases. Your internalized racist thoughts.
I want to encourage you to use any guilt you might have as a signal that things are out of alignment with your values and that things need to change.
I want to encourage you to not indulge in feeling shame and spinning into inaction.
I want to encourage you to see that your thoughts are optional. And that you can unlearn them.
**Use your privilege and donate, support, fund, and hire in an anti-racist way. Be explicit – not just intentional – because impact trumps intent. It should be no surprise to people that you are anti-racist (see ‘Resources’ below)!
Remember that this is a long-term process – not a thing you get a certificate for and you’re done.
And while you do this VERY important work, I want you to take action, because the world cannot wait for everyone to get their shit together.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- How to use thoughtwork + radical mindfulness to rewire internal bias
- Why it’s important to develop emotional resilience
- The difference between shame and guilt, and how to move beyond both toward action
- How to acknowledge when we mess up – ways to listen, learn and act instead of getting defensive
- The difference between equality and equity, between diversity and inclusion
- Why you must ask yourself “What am I willing to risk?” to fight for justice and show solidarity – how to move beyond fear and avoidance
- Concrete ways you can show up for the movement right NOW
I encourage you to check out: // The Higher Learning Podcast has a wonderful episode on the importance of nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death.
// Karen Arrington’s book Your Next Level Life about how she became an activist at age 13 (!!!) and started a protest to have the racist name of her middle school changed.
// I am a HUGE fan of Rachel Cargle’s work on anti-racism education and activism and the discussions she leads around race and womanhood. More on her below.
// Rachel Rodgers shared an amazing and generous resource in her I Am Not Okay blog and is also calling on other leaders to step up and do better.
// Mireille Charper’s Instagram Post on practical tips to be an ally.
Education. // Rachel Cargle has a great free 30-day anti-racism course. You can follow her on IG here. Check out the links in her bio for the free course. She also has tons of other great resources on her website.
// If you’re a coach, Trudi Lebron (@trudilebron) hosted an excellent created a workshop, called Show Up and Serve, for white coaches interested in applying antiracist principles to their businesses. You can purchase the recording here.
// This is an extensive list on Anti-Racism Resources for White People, which is updated regularly.
// For parents: here is a list of books that support conversations on race and racism with children.
Donating. There are so many wonderful organizations to make donations and support this cause. The Minnesota Freedom Fund, The Official GoFundMe George Floyd Memorial Fund, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
// blacklivesmatter.carrd.co for more resources for taking further action.
// @mireillecharper put together a great list of resources for further education:
More to follow on Social Media:
Rachel Cargle @rachel.cargle
No White Saviors @nowhitesaviors
Layla Saad @laylafsaad author of Me and White Supremacy
Check Your Privilege @ckyourprivilege
Rachel Ricketts @iamrachelricketts
The Great Unlearn @thegreatunlearn
Reni Eddo-Lodge @rennieddolodge
Ibram X. Kendi @ibramxk