This post started out as a signal boost for Virginia Rosenberg’s article, but I’m actually just going to add some more stuff because I found some more stuff that needs to be added. The last 4 or 5 days have broken up a lot of encrusted structures in my mind about privilege, whiteness, and white guilt. On Thursday, I bought the book Radical Dharma after hearing about the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile because I didn’t know what to do with my broken heart. Then my heart broke in a different way on Friday morning when I heard about the shooting in Dallas. I wrote a little about all this on my other blog and also began to use tarot to interrogate whiteness, which was heartbreaking in yet another way. I want to write up the results of that reading (hopefully ongoing practice) but for now, here are the words of others.
by Siobhan of Siobhan’s Mirror
Thank you, thank you Siobhan for this gift.
Use the questions below to journal. Use them as a tarot spread. Use them as a conversation starter but make sure your conversation partner has the energy or interest in engaging these kinds of questions. Use these questions to know yourself better. Use them how you will. Or don’t and save them for later. Take a healing bath instead. May your inquiry be led by love. Even when it burns white hot and lives in you as anger. May your inquiry be a prayer for hope or a precursor for action. May your own truth lead you.
by Asali of Asali Earthwork
I could ask you to show me where in space and time it is written that there is love, light, and goodness in the murder of a man in front of his family, but I won’t. I could ask you to show me where in the stars is the hope when Black trans women are killed for daring to live. I could ask you to show me where on the dirt we walk on is the reason for Black femmes and mothers heartbreak and dying. I’ll say this instead.
Your silence is complicit in my murder.
That you remain silent while claiming the identity of healer in any form only makes it worse. That I am asked as a healer to remain silent about my pain is unacceptable and is killing me.
Emphasizing “positive vibrations” versus “negative emotions” is another way of perpetuating oppression through distancing yourself.
Beware of giving advice that stems from fear. Telling others to “be the light” when they are experiencing intense emotional reactions is destabilizing and promotes falsehood and confusion. Manipulating the feelings of others is psychologically and emotionally damaging.
This type of advice robs us of personal inner sovereignty. It removes us from an authentic relationship with our inborn navigation system and prevents healing. It also renders us ineffective to deal with reality and contribute to healthy change.
What Asali and Virginia are addressing is a tendency prevalent in many spiritual communities to avoid discussing violence, oppression, and privilege because those topics are “low vibe” (the New Age way of putting it) or signify anger and attachment (the Buddhist way of putting it.) White folks need to realize that the option of not discussing these things is itself a privilege. Furthermore, shutting people down by telling them that they are too attached, angry, or low vibe in reaction to violence and oppression is nothing other than spiritual bypass at the community level and creates toxic communities. It’s a way of pathologizing our pain for the world.
If we are all interconnected–which most spiritual communities believe–and there is pain and injustice happening somewhere in the world, we will feel pain and that pain itself is a sign of our interconnection. (See Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects for more on this.) Let’s honor our pain, feel it fully, and let it move us to action.