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The Work We Can’t Avoid Any Longer (on Whiteness And Spirituality)

the work we can’t avoid any longer (on whiteness and spirituality)

The luxury to not say anything, or to take my time/try to say the right thing in the right way about racism and white supremacy is a performance of my privilege. And I do it even though I, at times, fancy myself aware, conscious, courageous, etc. 

As a white woman (ww), it’s part of my supremacist programming to not talk about race, because I can consciously/unconsciously rationalize whether it’s necessary/appropriate. I can go about my daily business without much thought. This disconnection is a base of all would-be supremacies.

Sarah Haile Mariam’s article in Medium entitled “White leaders who dehumanize black people and Danielle LaPorte’s new program” is a truly important read, especially for those of us doing spiritual work (personally and/or professionally).

This conversation is happening right now and is shaping our spiritual paths. Who will you be if you don’t participate? Who will we become?

A few weeks ago, I was on a “wake up call for white women” lead by Catrice Jackson and Layla Saad where Catrice brought up the point that white women don’t feel urgency to speak up and out about racism because we don’t have to. 

There are so many ways that we as ww hurt Black, Indigenous, Women of Color (BIWOC) as we force them/expect them to do the emotional labor of calling out racism and privileged/problematic behavior steeped in white supremacy.

We dismiss, gaslight, outright deny their truths, appropriate culture, police their tone and words, and perform countless micro-aggressions that we don’t slow down enough to see and acknowledge for what they are — racist behavior. Sometimes our not slowing down IS the racist behavior (this has been me 100%).

When things get uncomfortable we: 

  • center our whiteness,
  • retreat into shame and white guilt,
  • cry (so many tears!),
  • get very fragile and take the stance that we’re being “attacked”, and we
  • take up all the room with our own experiences because we’ve been taught that is ok and we’re entitled to the space.

Even when we feel like we have to fight for space because patriarchy.

I could choose right here to make this just about sexism and try to ally myself with all women in struggle, including WOC, but in doing so I’d be denying their experience and centering my own, yet again. I can feel the impulse to do this pumping through me.

I spent a decade as an activist and organizer, which meant there was A LOT of speaking up. I spent a lot of time and energy to highlight women’s voices, including Women and People of Color.

But I still hesitate, I still catch myself waiting for when I have time to write the perfect thing. I still avoid being uncomfortable.

As someone who engages in spiritual/emotional/energetic/mindset healing work, I am admittedly less practiced speaking out about the inequalities and expressions of white supremacy within the healing industrial complex and within my own communities. 

Look, I am so not exempt from the lessons, from the overt and covert aggressions levied against WOC. I can’t be. I’m white. 

I’ve grown up with the unasked for and undeserved privileges of being white in a culture where white is framed as the norm. I’m married to a white man who is literally the main recipient of the fruits of our biased and violently oppressive culture (I swear to goddess sometimes I pause and realize that my commitment to emotionally supporting and reeducating a white man is a major focus of my life and I have FEELINGS).

I have 100% moved too fast and aggressed on WOC with my own high-pressure, time-sensitive agenda. For years, that’s a way I perpetrated problematic behavior…even as I was doing work to elevate women’s voices.

Just because you/me/we are well-intentioned doesn’t mean we’re doing the work to undo racism. Often we’re reinforcing.

I’m a feminist who wants justice and respect for all women, for all humans, and love and security for all beings. But I can’t be silent. We can’t be silent. Silence IS violence.

And we can change. We must do better. We can reduce the harm we’ve been doing.

We as white women can do the daily work of unpacking our privilege and undoing racism in our work, relationships, businesses, and healing work especially. 

We must listen and take the lead from BIWOC, because they will and are guiding us into a new collective future. It is not their responsibility to do this. They are not doing it FOR us. But we have SO much to learn from them.

I’ll keep sharing resources, links, profiles of amazing humxns, and sharing guidance on undoing our internalized racism. Here are a few that have been blowing it all wide open for me as of late:

My mission is to slow us all down so we can see, hear, feel, know, and trust that we belong to each other. 

This is the work. I love you. I appreciate you. I’ll do my best to be accountable, to listen and receive feedback, criticism, guidance, all of it. 

I will be traveling to Seattle on Friday, so I’ll do a MAGIC HOUR instagram at 11am PT before I board if it feels right. For the most part I’m abandoning Facebook…so find me there. 

And every person I mentioned above is someone I started following through instagram — follow them, listen, learn.