Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
Shit is getting real (for white people).
After hundreds of years of countless Black deaths, all major systems (political, justice, healthcare, education, banking/credit, etc) built on white supremacy, things are at a "tipping point". Why now? Is it because now the murders of Black men are being filmed and circulated? Is it because COVID-19 has brought things to a halt - we're at home, millions are out of work, we are tasked with educating our children, people are dying, etc? Is it because we have an overtly racist asshole in the White House?
On #Blackouttuesday, I found myself posting this message: Don't go silent.
I first heard the term "White Silence" when I started working through the Me and White Supremacy workbook in December 2018. One of the questions stuck out to me, "Why do you stay silent?" and a prompt about whether or not you/I leave conversations when they get uncomfortable. Me and White Supremacy talks specifically about race. And as I worked through this particular piece, I realized how often I walk away from many conversations that make me feel uncomfortable, agitated or distressed.
It is almost easier for me to stick around and NOT be silent about race and Black Lives Matter because it's not about me. Because it's about justice and re-humanizing. But when I dig deeper, my White Silence, and my silence in general is 100% about me. (PS, that's the point of the whole workbook. I suggest you buy the book and do the work).
It's ironic because on the one hand, I am drawn towards taboo subjects, loud & opinionated friends, and speaking up. And on the other hand, I am afraid to say what I believe or dissent because I am afraid of losing love or respect from others.
I am so deeply afraid of rejection and abandonment, that that is why I have stayed silent.
If people abandon me for my ideas and beliefs, what then. Does that mean that I am no longer valuable or lovable. Does it change my inherent worth if people leave me? Of course not, right? And yet, a look at my history...
When I look at my relationships in high school and college, I was the cheerleader for the (White) men in my life. I let them lead completely. I stayed in the background, the supporter. I let my BF's friends be my friends. I didn't invest in my own relationships beyond that of me and my BF.
Often with men, I would pretend that I didn't have an opinion, to be seen as "cool" or easy going, or "not like other girls". I pretended for so long that eventually I had to do a lot of work figuring out what I felt and knew and wanted.
Early in my marriage, my silence came through as passive-aggressiveness. I wouldn't say how I really felt because I didn't want to rock the boat. I was afraid I would say the wrong thing. I was afraid if my husband really knew me then he would leave me. In fact, that is what I ultimately told him in our therapists office three years ago when we nearly divorced. I'm afraid if you know the real me, then you won't love me.
Glennon Doyle talks in Untamed about how girls look to each others' faces to see if they are hungry. I caught myself the other day doing this exact thing! Looking to my kids' and my husband's faces to see if they thought the movie we were watching was funny. Was I looking to see if I should laugh?
In my work place I often stay silent, too. When I owned the yoga studio, I was silent about the financial distress that we were in. I was silent about how others' cut me down. I believe that my silence brought down that business.
In the corporate world, I find that I am silent because I don't want to be wrong. I'm afraid of making a mistake and being laughed about or fired because of my incompetence. Rejection.
Funny enough, an anti-racist rant that I had over email made it's way to a "big boss" at my company. (Thank you Universe) I was so scared that I would be judged or worse because of my words. Instead, I received a thoughtful response and a reminder that it is more than ok to speak up, it is expected.
What I am realizing about my silence today is that Silence IS Violence. It's violence towards Black people when we don't stand up and say that Black Lives Matter. And it is violence towards myself when I don't speak the truth of my heart. Silencing your heart is self-harm.
The core wound for me here is abandonment. This is the work for me today.
What is your work?
You gotta feel it to heal it.