Application Essay for Enlightenment

Okay, that’s a little misleading. I am starting a year-long training on Socially Engaged Buddhism next month and was asked to submit an essay on why I am participating and the social justice work I do. Here’s ’tis:

I think of myself as a philosophical and spiritual Buddhist. I’ve been meditating regularly for a decade. I don’t practice any religion, but I’ve read enough (mostly Western) Buddhism to feel I have a grasp on what it’s offering, and what I’ve understood resonates as true – that clinging and aversion create suffering, that putting shoes on your own feet makes more sense than trying to carpet the world, that emotions should be felt and acknowledged, but not sanctified or given a leadership position; that the vagaries of the world can’t hurt you much of you can get to a place where you recognize your own learned, egocentric, knee-jerk bullshit.

At the same time, I write and talk and facilitate discussions on & occasionally protest about race and racism and I know how important it is for Black people, in particular, to have space where they can express anger after hundreds of years of being forced to counter a false stereotype and actual threats to their lives for having genuine emotional reactions to abuse. And I think it is important to hold the country and individuals accountable for causing pain, even when it’s not intentional, or at least not consciously so. And in theory, at least, these seem to stand in opposition to my Buddhist beliefs.

As a pseudo-Buddhist (or Pseu-Bu) and a former door-to-door fundraiser, I believe in “assume good intent.” I know how the expectation of rejection creates negativity in a very real way. But I totally understand and have defended the reasons why that is not always possible, and perhaps not even best, when confronting White people’s harmful words and actions; that it may be important for White people to experience the pain that has grown out of their complicity in White Supremacy. Maybe it’s just fine that they feel discomfort when faced with the consequences of their actions, intentional or not. Maybe the best thing isn’t always the kindest thing. I get all that. I don’t even object to BIPOC folks acting out of anger, as long as it’s not violent.

But I only accept this behavior b/c it is a reasonable response in an unreasonable world & a racist, genocidal, cruel, unfair country. If those circumstances did not exist, these behaviors, while perhaps educational and cathartic and rightfully disruptive, would simply be creating more suffering.

I am not saying I need to reconcile these – one of the big hallmarks of White Supremacy is either/or thinking, and Eastern philosophy seems to allow space for apparent contradiction as well. But I want the support, I want better understanding of the foundations of my beliefs, and I would like to be able to understand, defend, and articulate them well (and from a place of love).

I also don’t think everyone has to agree or have the same role in social justice movements. Folks can have myriad approaches to activism. While I believe hate is the wrong path, that acting in anger is only the right move by accident, that sucker punching a White Supremacist during an on-camera interview or screaming Fuck the Cops is ultimately counter-productive, that doesn’t mean those things are wrong in every context or that there may not be a place for them. Some people oppose violence in any circumstance, whereas I believe in self-defense and protecting others when necessary, especially for women, people with disabilities, & BIPOC folk. I respect complete non-violence, but for me it isn’t always the right path. One of the things I love about the Buddhism I have studied is that there are no absolute rules. I love the story of the (as I remember it) Buddhist monk on the ship who kills the murdering pirate who tries to take over, not only to prevent the inevitable loss of life, but to save the pirate himself from further self-torture.

In part, I’m looking for spiritual and philosophical reinforcement. And to better trust myself to make the right decisions for me. And to have patience and love for my fellow White liberals when they typescream “if you’re not outraged youre not paying attention!” and “if this doesn’t make you cry you don’t have a heart!” The policing of and sublimation of emotions is such a quick, easy, cold, infantilizing approach to dismissing our fellow humans.

I know that the best practice is meditation practice, and if I could take a bullet train to enlightenment and drop that ego, I probably wouldn’t even need this. Short of that, I am hoping a better, intellectual understanding and community and education will help me speak and perform my own truth – not without a willingness to change, but without shame or fear of confrontation and challenges from groups I feel compelled to defer to.

I live in Minneapolis, less than 2 miles from where George Floyd was killed. I attended the first protest and several cleanups and more protests and volunteered at the memorial and food shelves and attended online discussions about race with folks who were just setting foot on the path I’ve been traveling for decades and wrote and facilitated and taught about inequity and White Supremacy, and while this all sounds frantic & thoughtless, it was & it wasn’t. I knew this real, yet manufactured urgency was temporary. I knew I would “git my Buddha on” and transition to thoughtful, spiritually integrated action in the near future. I was relieved beyond expression when I stumbled across and attended a Love Serve Remember weekend months ago which gave me the spiritual strength to get me through the election, another path where I had given in to just doing masses of whatever until I crossed that finish line, and planning to re-center myself afterwards.

So I stopped attending unhelpful (to me) conversations on whiteness and race, sent my 100 postcards to Georgia, and allowed myself a breather at the end of the year. And one day this training showed up in my gmail. My only hesitation was the expense, but even that didn’t last long. It looks like exactly what I’m looking for – a grounding in reality and connection and a shift away from white guilt and white supremacist behaviors like urgency and perfectionism doing over being.

This very piece is practice in moving away from perfectionism, which for me blares most loudly in my writing and editing. A dog walking injury of a broken wrist makes it difficult and a bit painful to type, so I won’t be editing this to my usual standards. I am trying to let go of the idea that you (without even knowing who you are) will therefore like me less at the get-go (insert nervously smiling emoji here).

Have I answered your questions? Perhaps not entirely. Racial justice is obviously my main focus, and writing and facilitating are the main ways I focus, but I also work on food justice, and occasionally climate change, disability rights, and other issues, and am open to doing more work as I feel I can.

And with a deep breath, I dive in.

Thanks for reading,

Defunding Police & Seeing Clearly

IMG_20200606_152227604Two hours ago, the Minneapolis City Council voted, in a veto-proof majority, to Defund the Minneapolis Police Department. This will be a hasty post, but I’m just sooo excited, friends!

I have never been so proud to be a Minneapolitan. Today, I add this label with pride to my geographic identities of Chicagoan and Angeleno/a. There is no city I would rather live in right now. Real change is resting in our hands; not just in policing, but in community resilience and care and connections and in our way of thinking.

As a pseu-Bu* meditator, this week has been an inspiration. Sure, some of the folks who I marched with yesterday may have been anti-police across the board, or anarchists, or willing to swallow whatever the most radical voices were saying, for better and worse, but some of us have spent decades living in cities, witnessing corruption and brutality and racist policing, and yet have not imagined, until recently, that there was any other way for us to be. Getting rid of the police sounded as crazy as getting rid of capitalism, or personal car ownership, or one of the many other exciting ideas on the horizon that now seem possible.

BECAUSE IT IS ALL POSSIBLE.

One of my favorite things about Buddhism is the commitment to see what is really in front of you, without preconceptions or embedded beliefs; letting go of ideology and history to see what is really there. And we old (over 30) folks who were willing to look at the problem differently, to consider the evidence and recommendations that had been put before us by younger, less White, more revolutionary people, really did do something significant.

We changed our minds.

If you’ve studied the way the brain works, this is really not easy to do. And while we are not by any stretch the heroes of the Defund movement – that label goes to Reclaim the Block and MPD150 and many other brilliant and tireless activists, it will take those of us who are plugging along, doing our best, wanting to help, all the clearsightedness we can muster to support the changes that are coming. How do we reimagine policing? What can we actually do to help? How do we think of crime? And punishment? How can we build a beloved community where people help each other instead of anonymously calling an outside, armed force to intervene when we have problems? How can we see these as our problems? Loosening our grip on the way things have always been, our beliefs, our fears, will all be necessary in the new world to come.

I am so excited, I can hardly stand it. I just want to throw my arms around everyone. Love and peace and resilience to all.

*pseudo-Buddhist

Does Anti-Racism Work Make You Sexy?

Followup question: Do I have a future in clickbait?

sexyI had a lovely day today. Nothing special. I had planned to spend most of the day writing and reading, but instead wiled away the hours interacting with folks and art. My journey began at a too-popular bread n breakfast place. Tables freed up one at a time as I anxiously waited for a place to plant my incipient biscuit sandwich. A 4-top opened up when I reached the front of the line, and I took it a little guiltily, checking to see if a nearby twosome was getting up anytime soon so I could swap out my spot. Continue reading “Does Anti-Racism Work Make You Sexy?”

Personal Non-Violence

punch(There may be a related “political non-violence” piece in the works, but that will have to go on the race blog. By the way: upcoming Race Blog!)

Since Trump’s electoral college win, we seem to have embraced more violence as a country. Not just the lunatic fringe of proud racists and anti-Semites, but also the liberal Left. Let’s call this the “punch a Nazi” philosophy, as it shone most blindingly after a video went viral of Richard Spencer being socked in the face during an on-the-street interview.

Many Facebook Friends loved this. Facebook Friends who didn’t were called racist or stupid or ignorant by fellow White Liberals. I didn’t get involved, because I’m allergic to commentdebate, but I watched reasonable people get taken down and shut down en masse.

I am not pro-violence. I think it’s bad for the perpetrator and the victim, and almost always creates more pain and suffering than it prevents. But not always. I am not a pacifist. I admire pacifism, but I am not a pacifist. At least, I don’t think so. One can only know one’s true stance when forced to defend it. Maybe I could look with compassion and kindness and forgiveness on someone who hurt me, but at this moment, I doubt it.

I believe in defending myself. I admire those who make a conscious decision not to – Jesus and his ilk – but I am a woman who has been physically assaulted and I believe in fighting back. Not just to avoid pain, but to show the attacker that women are not walking targets and hopefully discourage him (yeah, I think I can assume Him) from hurting another woman. If I were a man, particularly a physically imposing man, I could see how turning the other cheek might be illuminating as well.

I also believe in defending others. I would hope that if I saw someone being attacked, or knew an attack was imminent, that I would try to prevent it. It seems more likely that this would manifest as getting between than taking on, but I’m not opposed to physical action in this situation, either.

And I think that’s it. So if Richard Spencer (heretofore referred to as Fuckwad) were an actual Nazi: killing, deporting, and enslaving Jews, homosexuals, etc, I could justify personally taking up violence against him. But only – and this is the crucial element of my philosophy – if it did some good. You might say that Fuckwad promotes racism and anti-Semitism and slavery (which the fuckwad does), and that therefore he is a justifiable target, but does targeting him do any good?

Here’s where the pro Punch a Nazi contingent loses its rational footing. I get that you want to see Fuckwad punched; I get that you might want to punch him yourself, but punching him accomplishes nothing. I know many anti-Fuckwad folks laughed and cheered when they saw the video, but it did not accomplish any of the following things:

  1. embarrass him: he recovered calmly and smoothly, in a civilized manner, saying he’d taken a hit before, and continued with the interview
  2. hurt him: see above
  3. prevent him from spewing his calm vitriol: see above
  4. turn any of his followers in another direction: Fuckwad presented either as an innocent victim or as the masculine “man” they love to – platonically! – love. Plus, the attacker may appear irrational, violent, and animalistic, playing into the lie Fuckwad and team have crafted.
  5. move any anti-Fuckwads to worthwhile action: posting about how much you love violence against people you don’t love is not worthwhile action, not if you want to make the world a better place, as you purport to do

I cannot think of one positive thing the sucker punch accomplished, other than, perhaps, making me more wary of liberals. I guess that could be a good thing. If you can think of a positive impact, please let me know. Maybe there’s something I’m not seeing.

Pseu-Bus (soo-boos)* like myself probably shouldn’t say this, but one could better justify killing Fuckwad than punching him. I don’t condone that, either, but it would have shut him up. There’s a tiny, tiny chance that might have done some good in the world, though it’s really unlikely. If he were The Creator of these ideas, or the only public figure still promoting them, then yeah, removing him might dramatically weaken the support for those ideas; but he is far from the first and far from the last, and disabling him would more likely bring about a martyrdom than a dissolution of support. Again, let me be clear: I’m not endorsing this, I’m just saying it holds more water than the punching defense. No one wants to go back in time to “clock Hitler a good one.”

I am not a pacifist because we don’t live in a perfect world and I do think there is a place for violence. If we let go of our egos and reactive anger, that place would be really, really remote.

Beyond that, violence is not my role in the world. There may be a place for violence in the activism that is necessary to save an environment or society worth living in. But every movement has numerous roles – speakers, writers, artists, event planners, even bodies. Don’t look to me to be the muscle. I am an overly compassionate wuss. It breaks my heart to see footage of the losing bench in a finals game, even if it’s the Patriots. It breaks my heart to think of a dog waiting for its dead owner to come home, even if the owner is Fuckwad. I have never felt good after saying something mean to even a vicious, loathed person. Not if they seemed hurt by it, and if they didn’t, then what was the point? I lose either way. Right Speech and Right Action in Buddhism aren’t just about protecting the world, they’re about protecting yourself.

I guess what I’m saying, dear reader, is I am not the resource for all your Nazi-punching needs. I can’t take on that role until it’s the only role left.

*Pseu-Bu: pseudo-Buddhist; in my case, someone who has put together some semblance of a Buddhist philosophy based almost exclusively on contemporary Western interpretations of Buddhism.

Memorializing

holocaust walk
Holocaust Memorial in Germany

I don’t have a problem with the annual memorializing of 9/11. But last month marked the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in the US, acknowledged only by some segments of the press and small memorials here and there. It would have been easy to miss it entirely. It makes me wonder what we commemorate and why.

I’ve been listening to the White Lies podcast, which is ostensibly an investigation into the murder of the Reverend James Reeb, beaten to death after joining the movement for voting rights in Alabama. But really it’s an examination of the South, and culpability, and how we lie to ourselves in order to absolve ourselves of responsibility. It’s not just the South that excels at this. Our country loves to forget the horrors we’ve committed. Unless we’re turning our crimes into victories, which is a specialty of the South. As is the “memorial as fuck you.” Not just Confederate statues deep into the 20th Century, but a statue of the Klan’s first Grand Wizard a week into the term of Selma’s first Black mayor. In 2000.

Perhaps this makes sense to you. A country doesn’t want to rest on its mistakes and crimes, it wants to celebrate its achievements. It wants to encourage pride and patriotism. So we remember “good” things we’ve done and times when we were victimized, but not anything for which we were responsible, in which we fucked up. But I keep thinking of Germany and the ubiquitous reminders of the Holocaust. There is another way to do things. It might help our understanding of history and mitigate our arrogance if we acknowledged African slavery and Indian genocide in the same way.

Of course, Germany made reparations to Jews. I don’t know if they could memorialize if they hadn’t. How would we feel in this US if we were constantly reminded of those crimes against humanity, while simultaneously recognizing that the structural racism and oppression continue. Someone might want to do something about it. Who knows where that could lead.

Then again, right wing racists are on the rise in Germany, too, so maybe nothing does any good.

Now I’m in a bad mood.

 

400 Years Ago (+ several days)

1619I was going to post about how my critical self likes to take stock of my failures at the end of every season, but I think the cute, self-deprecating, sad overview can wait. Because where I really fucked up was in not writing about the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in what was to become this country by what were to become the admired White settlers of Jamestown, in colonial Virginia. You can look it up. The image above and quotes that link to excellent work are in the NY Times feature, The 1619 Project.

Slavery is not a blight on this country’s fine history; it is not a shameful period of time with a beginning and an end. It is this country. The United States is a country of brutality and greed, where we have always put profit above people. Our government has had to be forced, by disruption and death and citizen disgust, to make every expansion of human rights that we have grudgingly, eventually agreed to. Maybe that’s the way it always happens. I’m not enough of a student of history to say for sure. But when I read that Trump’s “least racist person in the world” line is about as close as he’s ever come to accurately quoting Thomas Jefferson, who repeatedly insisted that, “nobody wishes more than I” for abolition, while enslaving Black people and profiting financially and sexually from their exploitation, should I really be surprised? Should I be shocked that the legacy of slavery infects our very language? Should I not expect that our country would lead the way in pushing humanity towards extinction?

There is some debate that the Anthropocene (the geologic era of human influence) would more accurately be called the Capitalocene (the geologic era of capitalism), because it is not humanity that has warmed the planet to the point of crisis, but carbon-fueled capitalism. And what is capitalism but the pursuit of financial gain at the expense of everything else? (But the invisible hand, you say, what about the invisible hand?? The invisible hand is, in my view of the moment, nothing but an excuse to pursue wealth uninhibited by ethics. You, capitalist, don’t have to worry about whether what you are doing is wrong, because the market will correct you if it is. Look at the world and tell me that isn’t bullshit.)

But the heedless racing toward mass extinction is only one example of our culture of slavery. Capital punishment is another. As is mass incarceration. Bryan Stephenson (maybe the new Buddha/Jesus?) writes in the above 1619 feature, “Slavery gave America a fear of black people and a taste for violent punishment.” A country of slavery would also be expected to hurl barriers in the paths of non-white humans trying to seek safety therein; to use food and deprivation as weapons; to deny health care, etc. The idea that those lucky enough to buy themselves a good life have somehow earned it is as backward and unscientific as the belief that Europeans are of a different and superior species to Africans.

Slavery is an economic system in which countless lives are destroyed in order to fill the treasure chests of a few, and those lives are vilified in order to justify the destruction. Whether smearing the victims as racially inferior, lazy, greedy, better off, ignorant, foreign, stupid, dirty, insignificant, or violent, it’s all the same. It’s all a way to make brutality palatable and selfishness noble. And it will destroy, if not all of us, then certainly the lifestyle that it has created.

I’m feeling despondent today, but not depressed. Yay for me! Boo for you.

 

this is just a link to a thing on the Amazon

I’m not up for writing today, and this is the time I have to write. Sorry, folks. I’m going to make tomorrow’s lunch, read some more Stamped from the Beginning, and leave you with this characteristically excellent piece on the ravished Amazon from the vlogbrothers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhESYHHbzsc .

“There has never been a greater reminder that nationalism is a disaster of an ideology.”

Minnesota White

mnniceLast night was the last night of our 6 month, once-a-month, Unpacking Whiteness exploration at the Zen Center. I honestly got more out of it than I thought I would, and when we went around the circle to give a brief comment on our reaction to the process as a whole, mine was that I was surprised how much I learned from the White people in my group: that I’ve been exploring this topic for a while, unlike many of the participants, and hyper conscious of race my whole life, unlike (based on what they’d said) nearly all of the other participants, and I wasn’t sure I’d get much from the others in my little circle. But every week someone brought up something I hadn’t thought about, or hadn’t been able to put into words, or hadn’t been brave enough to confess to, and I deeply appreciated both what they gave me and the hope they gave me for the potential of other White people. Not that this group of Zen meditators is representative of all White people, but still, I’ll back pocket that optimism.

After we had all said something, anyone was welcome to pick up the talking piece and say whatever they were inspired to add. I didn’t think I had anything else, but a few people’s comments sparked (another!) revelation, and I decided to share.

So many Minnesotans I’ve spoken to talk about never having had Black friends, about having grown up in an entirely White community, about having no relationships with people of color, and it occurred to me that the very culture of Minnesota may in fact be racist.

I doubt that is the main reason why this state is still so white. I would but the biggest blame on the racial covenants that are just now coming to light, the people harassed out of their homes, the lynchings in Duluth, etc. But if you look at Minnesota today, how welcoming is it to people who aren’t White, Christian, and Mild? Minnesota Nice isn’t just about passive aggression and passing politeness. It means you made all the friends you’ll ever need in 5th grade, and there is no reason to let strangers into your life. It includes complaining about things to everyone except the people who can do something about it. It means not talking during a movie, but also not having the huevos to tell the person who is talking to be quiet. It means glaring at the person who laughs too loud; and calling the person at work who answers an emailed question directly, without copious smileyfaces and explanation points, “rude.” It means an inordinate amount of people who do not like to be touched, a preference I’d never before encountered. It means that social anxiety can go undiagnosed, because that’s just how people are here. If you are physically expressive, people think you are dramatic. If you are physically affectionate, people think you’re an artist. Or gay. (You probably are.)

I brought this up at work a few years back, when we were talking about culture. (This was before I was brave enough to bring up the fact that we were entirely avoiding a discussion of race.) Nobody was volunteering an answer to the HR Director’s question, so, like many before her, she went to me, because she knew I’d have something to say. I don’t really have a problem with that, except for that fact that in this workplace it is sometimes used against me. But fine. I decided to grab the spotlight and broach the issue of Minnesota culture.

Being indirect in speech, being passive, continually deferring to others is perceived as “normal” here. I know I am perceived as different or bold or whatever because I express opinions when asked, because I sometimes reveal what I know to be true, because I have the gaul to disagree with someone in a meeting where we are supposed to be giving feedback on a topic. You think this perception is normal, but it is not. It is cultural. My behavior was not unusual in Chicago or Los Angeles. It may have been slightly less typical for a woman, but it was not abnormal. You think it is abnormal because people do not typically behave that way in Minnesota, but your standard is not universal, and people who don’t follow that standard should not be Otherized.

Despite the reality that what I actually said was far less coherent, I had several people approach me in the days after that training to express how I’d opened their eyes. It was kind of stunning.

So my revelation last night was looking at this culture through a racial lens and finding even more that was unwelcoming. If I, a run of the mill middle-aged White woman, perceive this culture as repressive, what kind of impact does it have on various people of color? People who might culturally express themselves through spontaneous song or dance? People whose religion is built on argumentation? People who express trust and affection through touch? People who laugh loudly and look for friends across borders? So the Jews plant themselves in St Louis Park and surround themselves with other Jews. And then the Hmong came. And the Somalis. And they also tend to plant roots in neighborhoods that cater to their own culture. And why wouldn’t they? I don’t blame them, and I don’t think it’s all about the language or affinity bias. Minnesota, even Minneapolis/St. Paul, is dominated by a White, Christian culture in a way that Chicago and Los Angeles were not. Yes, the uber-culture in the US is always White, but there was too much of a mix of folks in LA & Chicago for any one cultural standard to dominate. I can’t define either of those cities by culture. When people do single something out, it’s usually an aspect of White culture, like the hippie laid back Californian, but that’s never representative. Minnesota Nice is far more accurate.

So it’s not just the poor transportation and the ridiculous rental  prices that keep the Twin Cities from becoming Manhattan. It is our culture of Whiteness and Christianity. It’s oppressive and it is inherently exclusive. And it keeps these goodhearted meditators from having Black friends and Latino neighbors. It makes me sad, but recognizing something concrete always inspires me because concrete can be broken up. I felt inspired when I broached this in the circle last night. I thought it was another eye-opener, another way in which life could be improved for everyone. Something else we could work on!

But no one talked to me afterwards. No one thanked me for this awesome peek behind the curtain. No one openly agreed with me. Of course, that may be because I headed straight for my Chacos and walked out right after I helped put chairs away. I’ve never felt entirely welcome in the Zen center, and that also makes me sad because I set admittedly high expectations for Buddhist communities. Too much ceremony & formality for my comfort? Too little magical ability on their part to reach past my defenses and psychically will me to stay and commune? Aren’t they all enlightened already?!

yeah.probably my own weirdness.

Citizenship

naturalizationI wasn’t going to write anything about the impressively racist Trumpeet that grabbed the headlines this week. What is there to say? I don’t have a broad audience – everyone reading this feels more or less the same about it; everyone recognizes the xenophobia & ignorance & historical resonance.

But a months-old note to myself and another exceptional On the Media interview have given me a bit more insight, so I thought I’d share. Continue reading “Citizenship”

Responsibility v Fragility

white liesI don’t believe in free will. We can argue that another time. Right now I’d like to briefly discuss what this means when confronting issues of white supremacy and racism.

Denying free will does not mean denying responsibility. Certainly, one could choose to use it in that way, but that’s not my bag. Within the given framework that my actions are the culmination of everything – universally, politically, genetically, environmentally – that has led to the moment in which the action was taken, I still acknowledge some kind of “me” who understands ethics and feels compassion and has a history and as such, I am responsible for my actions. I am where I am because of the circumstances that have led me here, but now that I’m here, I am part of everything that has contributed to my current state. If this doesn’t make sense to you, I get it. I can’t explain it in a way that even I can fully defend, but it is what I believe.

Similarly, White people must accept responsibility for racism, even though their position of power, their privilege, and their ignorance may not be consciously chosen. We are where we are because of white supremacy, and we have hurt people with our words and our actions, inevitably. Taking responsibility means different things for different people, but I do think it must include recognition of current, pervasive, devastating and dangerous racism, and our complicity in it. For most of us, that means talking about it.

The White producers of the podast White Lies say that in their home state of Alabama, all the White people they tried to interview about racism and the Civil Rights movement said they’re tired of talking about all that. When asked when they did talk about all that, what deep, soul-searching conversations led to all this exhaustion, of course there was no answer. Because they have never talked about it. White people are worn out from all the conversations they’ve never had.

I’m not mocking them. It is exhausting. Carrying the collective knowledge of the shared White guilt of centuries of oppression is fucking exhausting. But the weight isn’t lessened by avoiding it. Talking about it, accepting our participation in racial injustice, actually does help. I have been talking about race for a while now, and I am here to testify, folks, that you can build White Racial Stamina. Can I get a witness! I’m not as fragile as I used to be; I can (sometimes) accept responsibility and recognize my complicity without emotionally devastating shame. It’s an endless journey, but I’m definitely further along the trail than I was even a year ago.

I am a living part of a living world, and just as there is no impenetrable barrier between my organs and the environment that keeps them functioning with Oxygen and water, there is no impenetrable barrier between my actions and the actions of the history that led to me. Breathe it in, clean it up, exhale the waste.