Confronting my white silence

This is a post written by a white lady for a white audience– especially those well-intentioned whites who believe that if they vote the correct way and don’t wave confederate flags then they have done their part and are not racist. We need to talk about that.

I went back and forth on posting –I do not want to add to the trauma or grief that black and brown folks are experiencing, and I don’t want to center discussions on white people whom frankly we hear enough from thank you very much–but I also firmly believe that white people have not stepped up and had these discussions for like, forever, and the burden of this work cannot remain on the shoulders of people of color to fix or solve a problem THEY DID NOT CREATE. So – if this is not your cup of tea, feel free to go “Thank you, next” on this piece. If you are still here, let’s carry on!

White people, we need to get our collective sh%t together! Doesn’t matter if your people didn’t own slaves, doesn’t matter if you have suffered your own life trauma’s that made life hard. The bottom line is that if you are white you benefit day in and out, since the moment of your birth (even the manner of your birth or the fact you or your mother survived birth), from a system of white supremacy. We are fish swimming in a sea of supremacy. We live it, we breathe it, we benefit from it. And it’s time we end it.

If there’s one thing I hope to be true during the past few weeks in America it’s that well-intentioned white people like myself maybe, just maybe, are finally starting to truly see the truth in themselves–that good intentions are not enough. It is your ACTIONS that matter, even when difficult, hard, uncomfortable and foreign to your way of being.

This isn’t my first rodeo in addressing my white privilege and the ways I maintain racism, but damn if I’m not seeing a whole new host of issues in myself that I JUST TRULY DID NOT SEE, and they just keep popping up like whack a mole game. I address one within myself, I face the shame and guilt, I move the energy, and the next ignorant belief I didn’t see comes rising up. In the beginning of all this I was feeling raw, ashamed, like I wanted to hide. But I stuck with the discomfort. I don’t say this asking for pity, but just to encourage you to sit in the discomfort and keep going. Too much depends on it!

I won’t bore you with the details of all the realizations I’ve had, but I will share that the biggest of them is finally seeing with wide open eyes the ways that I’ve maintained white silence.

I’ve seen how I’ve subconsciously maintained white allegiance rather than stir the pot. I’ve chosen to be “nice” and “comfortable” rather than make waves. What I’ve come to realize is that my silence in the face of every small micro-aggression toward minorities was me going “Nah this system is cool, I’m just gonna sit back and let it be.” In those moments of silence I acquiesced and aligned with an energy that sought to demean another human. Damn if that isn’t dark.

Why do we continue to do it, even when we know it’s wrong? Even when the racist uncle or colleague says something that makes our stomach churn, why do we carry on like we didn’t hear it, or laugh uncomfortably?

I think many white people — myself included –we have thought, what’s the point of speaking up? Me pointing out my uncle’s racist view will do nothing to change his mind. But that logic can no longer stand. It is time we take responsibility, reclaim our honor and dignity and use our power for good.

What I’ve learned, especially in the course of my spiritual work, is that if I am love itself, why would I stand for any action, words or thoughts that don’t align with that love. My actions on the outside my align with my heart– no more disconnection, no more indignity.

It means reclaiming my power and my responsibility. Confronting the part of myself stuck in shame and guilt and healing it. Addressing the parts of me that feel dis-empowered and moving it.

Imagine that the world we live in in the United States is setup like a large white supremacy system Jenga game. When you see something racist but let it stand, you allow that Jenga piece to stay solidly in the system, propping up the whole. You tell yourself that your one piece seems meaningless, but if every single person decided to make choices aligned with their humanity, and called out every racist act, or chose to align with efforts to dismantle racist systems–basically chose to use their power for the highest good of EVERYONE–well, eventually that entire stack of bricks would fall. You can’t see it when you are only thinking about yourself. It requires you to be an active, diligent, engaged, and dedicated human being who minute by minute, day by day, chooses over and over again to align with humanity. It requires you to be conscious.

Sound exhausting? It is–but in my experience only at first. The reason for that is because you are overcoming a resistance that lies within yourself, and there is a tension there. An energy that you must overcome. (Of course, imagine the flip side of this….feeling that pressure against you all day everyday, aimed at destroying your spirit, your livelihood, your existence. I don’t know what that feels like, I haven’t lived it, and I don’t think most whites have the resilience or grit to get through even a day of it.)

White people, it’s time we choose the kind of world we want to be a part of. Do we want to keep swimming in that nasty water of white supremacy, swimming along like everything is cool when our brothers and sisters of different races aren’t able to breathe (literally and metaphorically?) Or will we choose as to realign with our humanity and stand united with the dignity of all human beings, in words, in actions, in thoughts?

I hope you’ll roll up the sleeves and commit to doing the work. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Like I said, we haven’t spoken about this enough. It’s time we break that silence.

with love,

Sarah

I want to share Andréa Ranae’s perspective on silence and the consequences of silence. WOW. Checkout her instagram post and follow her at @andrearanaej:
・・・

View this post on Instagram

Silence is not violence. Silence is a decision. Every decision comes with consequences. Consequence: the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier Consequences are not inherently bad or good, they just are. A consequence of silence might be that you get to rest or reconnect with what’s true for you. A consequence of silence might be that violence continues on without intervention. A consequence of silence might be that you’ve made space to listen to the unheard. A consequence of silence might be that other people assume you’re doing nothing. A consequence of silence might be that the rest of us may never get to experience what you have to contribute to the world. Whatever decision you make in any moment comes with consequences and you are responsible for those. Meaning you are able to respond as you see fit. If the consequences you’re experiencing are not getting you what you want, you can always make a different decision. “Silence is violence” often comes with a binary of right and wrong and an accusation of “if you’re silent, you are wrong.” White supremacy thrives off these rigid binaries and absolute truths without space for complexity. Silence is a decision. You get to decide when and how you use silence. Only you can discern whether that decision is aligned with your integrity. Only you can discern whether the consequences you’re seeing/experiencing from that decision is what you want or if you need to pivot.

A post shared by Andréa Ranae | she/they (@andrearanaej) on

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

This excellent piece about being an anti-racist white educator has some great tips for everyone, not just those in teaching professions.

Will you Be the Light with me? (Free art in return for raising your voice!)

Last night I painted a hummingbird – a symbol of love and light. Painting is my way of spreading love and hope, and we could use a good dose of that right now.  

My hummingbird painting

I was inspired to paint because I couldn’t stop thinking about those kids. The kids screaming into the dark, the kids in cages. The kids being forcibly removed from their parents by my government.

The issue feels overwhelming and one person’s actions seem futile. But I don’t like feeling powerless. So I painted and thought, maybe there is a way I can share my art, spread some hope, and be a tiny drop in an ocean to make ripples to inspire others.

My idea: I take my art and make it into postcards, give sets of five cards away to people who agree to use the cards to take action on this issue. We nudge each other out of our complacency and feelings of defeat, and channel that energy into writing our senator, representative, the media, friends, family, whomever we’re inspired to reach out to on this topic.

What do you think? Will you be the light with me

header

Here is the postcard, almost ready to pick up from Staples!

be the light
Five free postcards – this is the print! – for spreaders-of-light! Copyright Sarah Dimattina

ARE YOU IN?! WILL YOU HELP SPREAD SOME LIGHT FOR THESE KIDDOS?

TO RECAP: I’ll send you five postcards* featuring my original hummingbird print above- and you agree to contact five people and advocate for the end of the child separation policy. AND, because I want to encourage a lot of people to take action – I’m also going to give away a tote bag featuring the art and a signed print to two lucky people who sign up! (Like I said, let’s spread some love and light.)

All you have to do is say “yeah Sarah, I can do that!” (via a google form, sooo easy) and I’ll mail you some postcards. Boom, done.

If we’re lucky, by the time you get the post cards in the mail the barbaric child separation policy will have ended. And if that’s the case, you can use the cards to advocate for another cause dear to your heart. Or another horrific policy that Trump has enacted in the meantime.

tote
You could win a tote! (And, it’s jumbo size for lots of bread and flowers! oooo!)

Are you ready to do it?  Just sign up here and I’ll ship the first batch of cards out tomorrow!

Thanks for helping shine some light. Let’s do this!

*Why postcards? Elected officials take extra notice of constituents who take the time to write a hand-written note, since most of us don’t bother to do that! You can also use the cards to encourage family and friends to take action. Who doesn’t love getting mail?!

p.s. I’m going to try to gather some articles on this topic for anyone who wants more info. Feel free to share in the comments below if you have read any good ones. Thanks!

Give light and People will Find the Way.

“On Friday we wept, on Saturday we marched, on Sunday we rested. Today we get to work. What will you do today?” – Valerie Kaur

I live in the very, very Southwest corner of Florida. Not near Miami, or Orlando, or Tampa, where you might find some blue dots in our red state. No. I live where it is not weird at all to see a dude driving his pickup around a parking lot with a shirtless dude in back waving a flag larger than my garage that says “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.” Totally normal. Totally happened in my local Ace Hardware parking lot.

Because of this lack of blue dots in a very, very red area of the state, I almost didn’t attend my nearest sister march for the women’s march. I was certain that it was going to be me and the usual twenty aging white hippies who usually show up at these things.

Illustration based on a photo posted on Facebook by the baby’s mom Jenny Sowry. This is #wokebaby. Marched in Charlotte, NC on Saturday with her crayon-scribbled sign. Can you handle the cuteness? (Follow my instagram @100daysofhope for daily art like this.)
I WAS WRONG.

As I approached the march location there was a fair amount of traffic. There were tons and tons of cars parked on lawns illegally. There was no way this was because of the march, I thought. Not in this long-established republican stronghold where the last democrat to win the county was Adlaid Stevenson II in 1952.  (Source: Wikipedia.)

It turns out the crowd, the traffic, it was in fact all for the march.The organizers expected 300: At least 2,500 people showed up.  

YES, that is right. Over two-thousand people in our sleepy little vacation town showed up to march. Thousands of people marched and chanted past the tony vacation homes and high-end boutiques. The retirees in sports cars gawked. The passer-bys on their way to brunch bristled.

It. Was. Amazing. 

There were elderly marchers being pushed in wheelchairs, young marchers being pulled in wagons. Families, singletons, teens, twenty-somethings. Men! Women! And yes, a lot of white sixty-something women. But not just the aging hippy-sisters-who-paved-the-way oh-so long ago. We couldn’t have been here without them, but we need more than just them to move forward.

The best part was that the tone of the crowd wasn’t angry (though we were angry, yes); it wasn’t sad, or defeated or gloom and doom. No, it was…joyful. Jubilant even. It was downright spiritual: we were transmuting our pain with art, with dancing, with music. And levity! (The signs were hilarious, no?)

(And in case you missed it, the baby marcher with her crayoned-protest-sign. THIS. This is what we need.)

Let’s keep doing it. Let’s keep showing up for each other. Let’s keep giving light so others will find the way. And let’s do it with much rejoicing.

Did you march, sisters? (And brothers!) Tell me your stories! 

3/100

Give birth again to the dream

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Maya Angelou, excerpt from ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ (emphasis my own)