Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. My heart aches. My rage radiates in my chest. Sometimes I feel numb. Today, after 12 hours of sleep, I am still exhausted.
I am sickened that 53% of white women and 63% of white men voted for Trump. This shows the depth of racism and internalized sexism in our country. I hope now that no one can imagine that we are in a post-racial society. White people voted for Trump. White people got him into the office.
Living in Seattle, considering yourself progressive or liberal, voting for Hillary or supporting Bernie does not mean you are unaffected by racism. Putting a safety pin on my jacket does not mean you have done your work. I challenge you and myself, in particular my fellow white people, to dig in. I have seen some fires lit in the last month with passion to do something. Lets get to work! I invite us white people to dig deeper than acknowledging that we have privilege. I invite my fellow white women to look into how the intersections of racism and sexism affect us. I hope is that we can all be as committed to looking at these systems of oppression as we are to our meditation or asana practice. They are not mutually exclusive.
Our practice can help. Yoga and meditation practice PRIMES us to be able to handle discomfort. This is our work as white people if we want change, justice and equity, and this is not just for the white people who voted for Trump. All white people. Our practice teaches us awareness and mindfulness. With mindfulness we can attune to when we have a racist thought or do a microaggression. As white women we can begin to see how internalized sexism rears its head inside our bodies and minds. With our practice we have the capacity to look deeply into the places we don’t want to look. Our practice teaches us non-violence and compassion. We can look into these painful and difficult parts of ourselves with tenderness. It is not our fault we have been conditioned and socialized this way, but it IS our fault if we do not take responsibility for it. We have more of a chance of healing the wound of white supremacy (which hurts white people too) if we look at it bravely and courageously.
I encourage all of us in the yoga community to start talking and know that we WILL [expletive] up. A lot of the yoga community remembers my very public, intense screw up from last year (if not, see my article about it here). You will survive screwing up, and you will do it over and over again. I screwed up last week, and I am sure I screwed up in other ways that I am not even aware of. Yoga teachers, I encourage you to talk to your students. Hear your students. Stumble through difficult and painful conversations. That is where some of the healing can happen. Staying silent is a form of white supremacy.
And to my fellow white women we have the experience of being marginalized as women while also experiencing power and privilege as white people. I encourage us to look at the intersections of how we benefit from our privilege to the disadvantage of people of color and also the ways that patriarchy and toxic masculinity have deeply wounded us. There is powerful work, and I am committed to doing this work with you.
Here are some resources to get you started. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. I would also love to hear the resources that you find helpful.
- Liz Goodwin is coming to 8 Limbs on December 9, 2016 to do a social justice training (Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment)
- RW Alves and I are doing an almost free ($1) “White People Waking Up” webinar on December 15, 2016 and a “White People Waking Up” 10-week on-line book club and exploration starting January 11, 2017 at Rainier Beach Yoga.
- Yoga Behind Bars does local social justice trainings
- Decolonizing Yoga
For local news with a social and racial justice lens:
Groups focused on racial justice:
- European Dissent on Facebook.
- Coalition of Anti-Racist White (CARW)
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
I learn through reading, and these are some of my favorite books on social and racial justice as well as feminism:
- Witnessing Whiteness by Shelly Tochluk
- Living in the Tension by Shelly Tochluk
- What does it Mean to be White? by Robin DiAngelo
- Radical Dharma by Angel Kyodo Williams
- The Way of Tenderness by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- At the Root of This Longing by Carol Lee Flinders
- A Different Mirror by Ronald Takaki
- Beyond Empowerment Beyond Inclusion by Leticia Nieto
I am grateful that the wounds of white supremacy are coming to the forefront because now, more than ever, white people are beginning to wake up. We can not heal our wounds when they are hidden, and I am passionate that yoga can be one of the healing modalities we utilize for our growth, learning, resilience, strength and fortitude.[Photo by William Murphy | CC BY]