Instead I will share a letter I have written to my fellow white folks, floundering for where to begin as the reality of systemic racism in our country demands our attention.
my dear white friends,
Let us give ourselves permission now to put down the burden of pretending we were the special white people who managed not to ingest any of the "bad racism out there from a long time ago." We don't need to pretend anymore, because we did. The fact is that as a white person, racism is simply our conditioning. That's ok. We have to start by seeing it without going on defense so that we can make change. The system in place has developed over hundreds of years, how could we not have been affected by it?
Let's stop letting the word "racism" be too big and scary and personally offensive to do any digging. Find a more helpful way of looking at it - we carry many historical misperceptions about the people around us. Acting on those misperceptions creates harm. And all harm has consequences for us as well as the individuals harmed. It hurts us to keep participating in this system and it is devastating for the lives of people of color, and most of us aren't even aware of how it's playing out. I love you and I don't want us to hurt others or ourselves anymore.
Just because we receive something, does not mean we have to pass it on. In fact, once we see that what we are holding is seriously destructive, we typically want to get far away from it (guilt). Turn your back on racism, and you will feel the system that keeps it in place threatening to destroy you. That same system IS actively destroying people of color on a daily basis, in serious ways. We see evidence in these huge obvious ways, like shootings, but the real destruction happens in more subtle, daily interactions that we mostly don't see or realize at all. If you aren't sure, as an ally and white parent of mixed kids, I have plenty of eye-witness accounts of how it plays out in small ways. I'm happy to share them with you. We NEED to know how it lives out in our everyday life, through simple misperceptions that we can learn to navigate. We have to take responsibility for turning systemic racism around.
I can tell you from experience, that when we believe we are dying, our life will flash before our eyes, maybe slowly, maybe quickly. We will see all the good and all the harm we have done, as it is always seen by the great Divine, which is a lawful one. Not doing this work is neglecting our fellow human beings who are being actively destroyed and silenced by this system that WE have the power to interrupt. All religions are clear that we are meant to love and serve each other - ALL of humanity, not just the people you are most comfortable with. I wish for each of us to die in peace, when that time comes,, not burdened with regret.. I wish for people not to be murdered and held in systemic poverty. I want to see us stand up together to bring this to an end..
Let us please connect with other white people, allies who have done the study, who lend us the courage to do the inner work of identifying misperceptions, actions based off of those, and learn how to create true peace hand in hand with people of color.
Please, let us open our minds to the possibility that we are not fully serving our brothers and sisters and genderqueers etc of color. We must take responsibility for looking at how it plays out in our day to day life, and for the sake of our world, to take a stand against it. If you have questions about how to do this work, where to begin, etc, PLEASE ask. Let us commit to this work tirelessly, fearlessly, out of great love and dedication to bringing about the end of suffering.
With great love,
Here are a couple other resources:
"Waking Up to White Supremacy" by Max Airborne on Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Insight Meditation DC has shared this Call to Engage for practitioners: (Here is the link)
"A Call to Engage- Summer 2015
This is a call to white Buddhist teachers, leaders and practitioners (within the United States and abroad) to engage in the healing of racism as an essential part of our journey of awakening.
Racial awareness as spiritual practice
Our Dharma practice calls on us to leave no stone unturned in investigating racism and white dominance. And our practice can support us profoundly as we encounter the challenges of this inquiry. These four areas provide a framework of inquiry and action:
1. Commit to ongoing self-education.
2. Engage in facilitated group work.
3. Promote structural change within our Dharma communities
4. Build collaborative relationships with people of color."
Also: WhiteAwake.org - Developing race awareness for the benefit of all.
May all beings be free from suffering.