I came across a great article by Tai Salih named, “White Privilege in Yoga Pants: Spiritual Bypassing.” If you haven’t read this article, please go and read it. I will post the link after this blog. I read the article and it reminded me so much of a conversation on Facebook I had with a friend, Sarah Irani. This conversation is my blog topic this month. There must be an understanding that our destinies are tied together. #Blacklivesmatter is an important conversation about racism that is REAL, here and now. I have a group of racist friends that do not understand, and it is my hope that one day soon they will. Here is the conversation with Sarah.
Sarah: I notice a deafening silence from some love and light people who understandably don’t want to make things “all about race.” But the spiritual bypassing is really ugly. It’s ok if you don’t know what to say; be humble and listen. But you can also use your voice to amplify voices of POC (People of Color). Simple as that. Share and retweet messages from people who DO know what to say, and who ARE speaking. Because that’s how we care for each other.
Ana: I totally agree with you! I really do not understand why some spiritual people are not addressing race. In my opinion, this is a human rights issue of systemic racism against African Americans in our country. It is about Peace for all. Even at the peaceful protest in Sedona, I was expecting more from the spiritual community to show up but was really disappointed. Could there be systemic racism in spiritual circles? I really don't know. I am just putting it out there.
Sarah: I don’t think they are overtly racist, but it does seem like the spiritual community doesn’t want to get involved in politics, or anything “ugly.” I’ve heard some people imply that having these conversations about race focuses only on race, and that they don’t see color, they see spirit. Something along those lines. They fear that perhaps attending a protest focused on a racial issue will serve to manifest more racism. But the thing is, we do live in human bodies, and the human experience DOES include different contexts for different people. Many of us would like to change that for more equity, and so first we have to admit it’s actually there! Can’t bypass it and make it go away.
Ana: I agree with you. We can't make this go away. This is why Martin Luth King called it creative protesting. We are creating better, more peaceful world for all people. We can't just go back in our bubbles and not acknowledge the suffering and pain of others, because it is ugly or uncomfortable. We are talking about Freedom for all. We have work to do. All of our creative futures are dependent on our much we love and care for each other.
Sarah: It is the Boddhisatva Vow — not to rest until suffering is eased for all.
Thank you Sarah for allowing me to use this short Facebook conversation. I appreciate it and I still have hope for us all. I want to return back to the question I posed in the above conversation, “Could there be racism in spiritual circles?” By not recognizing racism as a problem in America, is that racism? After long contemplation, I have realized that there is rampant passive racism here in Verde Valley: Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, and Cornville.
I have friends who have made comments about POC in our neighborhood, even though it is very obvious that I am one of THOSE. I have friends who have made comments about Mexican children and how they don’t want their (white) children associating with THOSE Mexicans because they are of “lower vibration”. Last year the Walmart in Cottonwood was being remodeled, and the crew that came from Phoenix was mostly POC, and they moved to our neighborhood. One of my racist friends made several comments about their appearance and the new neighbors swimming in the clubhouse pool. When I confronted her about it, she said that she could talk that way because she lived in the South.
(I can mention numerous other examples, and in earlier drafts of this blog I did, but I really want to protect the identity of my racist friends. At some point it becomes totally obvious who I am talking about.)
My hope is that there is a realization that the deafening silence from those love and light people is counterproductive and may even be a form of passive racism. The silence means compliance and agreement of systemic racism in America. The silence is the equivalent to watching, with popcorn in hand, a burning house go down violently. The house symbolizes peace and justice for POC, and the fire is the systemic racism of white people around us.
In America right now, we have an opportunity to love each other in a way that is complex and beautiful. And yes! This is an issue about love. Love for our black brothers and sisters. Love in considering their BLACK VOICES, that have been silenced for a very long time. Love for OUR future peace as a collective community. Love for embracing change. When we have the uncomfortable moments, we can transform each other. I have made conscious choices to stay friends with racist people, because something in my heart says that anything is possible. I still distance myself a bit as a method of self-preservation though. But I feel like we never know how people can change. Also, I have chosen to stay friends with racist people because I can see the perspective of the whole picture. In most cases, racism is the absolute worst characteristic of a person. My friends that I have mentioned in this blog have shown up as friends in other ways. For example, they are dependable, kind (sometimes) and hard working people.
Those who say that racism doesn’t exist in Northern Arizona is not looking at realty. Spiritual bypassing is not an option here. Those who do not see the passive racism of spiritual bypassing do not see realty of the community that we live in. Our destinies are tied together. When we listen to the sufferings of POC in America, then we will ease our own collective suffering. White. Black. Brown. Yellow. Purple. Red. All collective consciousness will change. Please join me in having these moments of transformation. HOPEFULLY.