My journey with the #meandwhitesupremacy challenge is complete. Of course this work is really just beginning. A deep bow to Layla F. Saad for shepherding us through this journey. Subscribe to her mailing list to find out when the book will become available.
Day 26: Me & My Values
What are my values?
I value self reflection and self study. Completing this challenge has been living in alignment with this value and desire to know myself. Devoting a dedicated amount of time to do the work and dig deep. However as is apparent from the past days I have not been regularly engaging in anti-racism work in this way. I’ve been guilty of spiritual bypassing, I’m already part of the choir so this work is not for me, I have other areas to work on right now so I dont need to show up for this work in this way. I have missed opportunities to know myself better because I was deflecting my energy into other concerns. Workaholism. Parties. Relationships. I always come back to my writing as the key back into myself and this value.
I value honesty and integrity. Living in alignment with this value one hundred percent of the time is impossible for a mere mortal like me. However it is a good measuring stick to come back to and hold my actions against. When I look at the writing from earlier in the challenge I am aware that my actions have not measured up. Radical truth speaking requires so much vulnerability to hold space for what is outside of the narratives I have created about the kind of person I am. Speaking truth to myself about what is in my mind is the first step to acting with integrity. I also acknowledge that my white silence is deadly, and to act with integrity means to speak to white power within each other not speaking over BIPOC as another white saviour.
I value compassion and loving kindness. I know that the actions, beliefs, bias, attitudes, and words described in this challenge are not in alignment with this value. I know that paralyzing guilt and excessive self flagellation is also not in alignment with this value. Kindness that come from a desire to appear good and not to spread love is not in alignment with this value. The desire to only see love and not look at the hard ugly truths is not in alignment with this value. The desire to center only self compassion, only my own experiences of compassion at the expense of others, is not in alignment with this value.
I value creativity. Living a creative life is the ability to look at how things are and imagine them differently. The difference between dreamers and artists is those that put actions behind their imagination. There is an incredible amount of responsibility as such for artists to spend time pushing the limits of our imagination and unpacking our unconscious bias. Because the narratives we tell collectively matter. The stories we repeat to each other. the jokes we tell. The songs we sing. They shape our collective conciousness, and without taking personal responsibility for the baggage that we are dragging into that creative realm. My creative practice has not always been engaged in anti oppression work. I have not done my due diligence to do my own anti racism work when working with BIPOC collaborators. I have not fully taken responsibility for my actions. Which relates to the next one…
I value justice. This is a value I have been personally grappling with of late. Justice looks at right versus wrong, good prevails over evil, fighting for what is fair and right always and absolutely is. This is an idea I have inherited in my blood. I can’t name where I learned about it or why it lights such a fiery ball of rage in my core. But I don’t think it is a helpful value. That much repressed anger leaks out in all the most ugly violent ways. The world has never been just. Mercy is the value I would like to welcome in its place. Mercy opens the door on forgiveness. Perhaps that is a selfish value to wish for in light of the writing I have done, the justice that should be dealt my way. I dont have an answer to that right now. Currently I still think I deserve that justice in my heart of hearts. And yet I pray for mercy.
I value selfless service. I believe we are on this planet to serve. A higher purpose. Survival of the species. Cosmic collision course in destiny. Doesn’t matter what it is attributed to. Acts of selfless service are love incarnate and are the motor beneath life itself. In the context of white supremacy I have not been of service to dismantling these powers of oppression. I have put my self interest ahead of the greater good. I long to do better.
I value community and accountability. Again writing these reflections has been in alignment with this value. I appreciate all of the people who have reached out to talk about the challenge with me. To hold me and each other accountable. Doing this work isnt about getting a cookie for having the right answer, but it is so rewarding to hold each other up in this hard process of learning and reprogramming.
I value respect for all beings. I have never lived fully in alignment with this value. Not in the context of white supremacy, not in the context of environmentalism, not in any context of life. But it is something to work towards. It is something to hold to be true to shine light in the darkness.
I value the interconnected web of life. This challenge has illuminated this so much more deeply for me. We are connected by years of socialization that I wasnt even aware of. That socialization has wide spread consequences and realities for all of us. I want to continue that work of understanding how deeply those connections run. The world is my classroom; learning all of the time.
Ultimately, I believe in the power of creative transformation. I have the power to transform these attitudes, behaviours, bias, and actions. You do too. Collectively we can evolve past this moment in time and write a new chapter together.
Day 27: Me & Losing Privilege
I am a white settler in the Western Canadian bible belt. I have been given many privileges directly, indirectly, inherited, and newly bestowed because of the skin I was born in and the way I was socialized. I have actively participated in protecting these privileges at the expense of BIPOC. The extent of which I was not fully aware of at the beginning of this challenge, and to which I may never be able to fully fathom. However I can begin by taking responsibility now to learn to let go of these unearned privileges. Even while making the decision to consciously act to lose privilege I must acknowledge that on some level it is going to be impossible to lose all white privilege. I can work towards dismantling the systems that make this true, but it also runs incredibly deep and will not disappear in my lifetime. I can still work towards that goal. Some privileges that I can begin giving up right away are the privilege of silence and apathy on matters of racism. These are both predicated on my own personal comfort inside of white supremacist society over the greater good. I can begin to let go of those privileges by knowingly stepping into the uncomfortable knowledge of how racism is implicated in daily life. I can begin by making more time to stay informed with current events and the hidden histories that have created these conditions, and reflect on my personal role in each. I can speak up when I am in white only spaces including family gatherings that are encouraging white solidarity and complacency. This is the bare minimum sort of effort to show up in conversations of race not just when people are watching (optical allyship) or to turn performing the bare minimum into a martyr situation where I’m here to save the helpless and be validated for my efforts. The small sacrafice of comfort and complacency is the easiest place to start. The second way in which I can step outside of my white privilege is in the access and accumulation of wealth and resources. I regularly make a point to donate to kickstarter campaigns, charities, and advocacy organizations. However I don’t feel that the occasional contribution is doing enough. I don’t lose any privilege, and a lot of the time it is a token gesture to assauge white guilt and for optical allyship points. I need to look more deeply at the ways in which I earn that money, what I prioritize spending it on, and how those things may be supporting white supremacy. Right away I can make more efforts to research and support small local businesses that are owned and operated by BIPOC, or at least not ones that are actively displacing or erasing BIPOC. I can seek out other ways to be materially of service to BIPOC activists and advocates in their work that accept more personal risk than financial contributions, although not to say I will stop contributing either. I will not apply for any further public funding as a white artist that has already been given a stable financial position to build my practice from. I will not accept sponsorship money from businesses and organizations that up hold white supremacist values. I will seek ways to support BIPOC collaborators better materially in my creative practice that doesn’t end in offering them a pay cheque to tokenize their work for my project or goals. This brings me to the third privilege that I want to step outside of, my assumed white superiority and white centering in leadership roles. I have seen myself as a leader and actively pursued leadership roles since a very young age. I need to reconsider my need to assume this role or what I think that means, and do the work to be leading by example not by leaning on white privileges. Affirmative action has most benefited cis white women like me, and I can’t ignore the impact that has had on me directly. I need to work harder to take responsibility for my actions in order to escape this sort of white feminism brand of equality. I’ve got by being a well spoken white person that understands Roberts rules of order and can lean on the existing dynamics of power to use to my advantage, but I want to A) unlearn these colonial principles of hierarchical management and B) make a point of following more BIPOC leaders rather than bemoaning they dont exist from where I stand. Following Layla’s leadership through this challenge taught me so much, and I know there are countless others like her including many local activists and advocate and teachers. Choosing to seek out their work and follow their lead instead of creating another project that I am at the centre of is not just a nice change of pace but an important part of letting go of privileges that centre my white experience.
Day 28: Me & My Commitments
3 concrete actions undertake in the next 2 weeks that will put me out of my comfort zone and continue the work started. I’m tagging Sarah as my accountability buddy but pls everyone is invited to check in with me if you are interested.
1) I’m committing to reading authors I’ve been “meaning to read” and get serious about learning more about the foundations of racism this country is built on. In the next two weeks I will be putting together a list of books (an unschoolers curriculum if you will) for the coming year. I invite white friends interested in reading along with me to join me book club style so we can discuss and hold each other accountable. If you have suggestions of books for the list lmk.
2) I’m going to support Layla, Leesna and Rachel on patron to continue to support their work financially in gratitude for the learning I have received from them. I’m going to continue to write once a week reflections to continue to hold myself accountable. I will continue to find ways to show up for the work that they share on their platforms.
3) I’m committing to visiting the Justice for Our Stollen Children camp and finding a way to materially support their work. I’ve been bystanding this work in my own backyard liking & sharing on Facebook, but this is not enough.
4) I’m going to follow up on the creative project that has left me feeling most uncomfortable with my colonial creative practice in light of this challenge. I’m going to write letters acknowledging and apologizing for any actions or words that may have done harm, and commit to changing how I approach this kind of work in the future.
5) finally I’m going to commit to re-reading what I wrote during the challenge. I took a long time to finish this work, and some of those earlier posts were over a month ago. As the second part of this prompt is about identifying how I can commit to change in a more on going way I want to revisit what I wrote to highlight the patterns.
These are the concreate goals that I am committed to completing by September 10th 2018. The other more on going commitments I am going to be meditating on and will share at the end of this 2 week digestion period. The first one is that I commit to not looking away from this work. I am committing to making anti-racism work a central pillar of my self development, and an on going practice. I can’t unsee what I have learnt about myself over this challenge, but it will be easy to slip back into old habits. I commit to the vigilance required to hold myself to higher standards, and to cultivate the support in my peers to do this work so that BIPOC do not need to bare the brunt of my ignorance. Along with the areas I have highlighted yesterday, I will continue to add to these commitments as a life long practice.