A riot is the language of the unheard. -Dr. Martin Luther King
Love does not look like the silence and complicity of too many of us, who wish more for tranquility than justice. —Bishop Michael Curry
Pivot–Practicing What We Preach
This was not the post we had originally written and scheduled for today. In light of the current state of the world, we decided to write a skill about anti-racism. It is possible that the title of this blog may make you uncomfortable, as “racism” is an emotionally charged word. You and I want to be good people, and we associate the words “racist” or “racism” with bad people. So, we challenge you to try and disassociate the word from your character, to see it as a descriptor only, and see what possibilities that practice opens up for you.
Racism is an emotionally charged word. We are asking you to see it as a descriptor and not as a character assault.
Also, there is way too much to say in one blog post. For now, we are going to narrow down and focus on a few basics, give you links to resources, and tell you how we hope to move forward.
Growth and Change
About two years ago, each of us made a decision to do more reading about racism, as well as to read more books written by black authors. We were feeling challenged by many factors — social justice seeking daughters, deeper spiritual dives, lectures given by black activists, the continuing violence against the black community, and many of our friends who are people of color. Trust me, none of this reading made us feel better. It made us realize more and more the injustices and inequities the black community has lived with. Many days we felt worse. But as Rachel Cargle has said, and we’re paraphrasing, “Anti-racism work is not a self-improvement project for white people.” It is a willingness to find out truths that are hard to hear and bear, and to make a decision to be, at the least, an ally.
In this video, Rachel Cargle outlines three steps we can all take to do our part in changing the world. We implore you all to watch it for yourself, and leave us a comment with something you learned! Today, we are paraphrasing the actionable content for you. Her 3-part framework for anti-racism work includes:
- Critical Knowledge
- Radical Empathy
- Intentional Action
Basically, do more reading, do more listening. In this list of resources, you can expect to find more than you may have time to use. This list was compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein, and is is one of the best we have seen. If you are only getting your news from the main-stream media, and you want to be actively anti-racist, you are going to have to dig deeper. Find out what is really happening. Seek out the voices of those who are in the struggle. Source your information from people (plural) who are marginalized, unsafe, and on the front lines of this pandemic of racism.
It is not enough to feel sad or bad about what is happening, that is passive empathy. Rachel reminds us that radical empathy moves from passive to active empathy. How do you hold yourself accountable for playing into the pain of others? Are you willing to be corrected when you — even unintentionally — say or do something that is racist? Radical empathy involves active listening. This means listening for the sole purpose of understanding. Not to be heard but to hear and absorb another person’s reality. Not to make your point. You can begin there.
How do you hold yourself accountable for playing into the pain of others?
What can you do? Here are 75 suggestions. Even if you do not agree with all of these things, surely you can take one of these things and be accountable for doing it. Take one a week. Take the next 75 days and read a few of the suggested books. You can do something. If you have children, read some of the suggested books. If you sit down to eat with anyone, you can talk about this and brainstorm ways you can help. You can donate money to any of the suggested non-profits. And maybe most importantly, hold your white and white-passing friends accountable for addressing and unlearning their own racism, because we all fall somewhere on this scale. That’s the thing — you don’t have to be free of racism to be anti-racist!
A Note on Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter
This is an argument we have heard repeatedly. If you read and understand history you know that oppressed people have always had to fight for justice, because their lives never mattered as much as the dominant/oppressing culture. That is why Jesus didn’t say all lives matter. He stood with the oppressed, marginalized, and unwell people and he said, “These lives right here matter.” He didn’t need to say that the Roman solider’s lives mattered because that was a given. What was not understood was that the leper mattered as much as the solider. So yes, all lives matter. We don’t need a movement or a revolution to confirm that. We do need a movement and a revolution to make sure that our black brothers’ and sisters’ lives matter.
Hungry For More?
Here are a few more resources, videos, and writing (in addition to what’s already been linked in this post) that spoke to us from this week. Watch or read at least one. Or maybe all of them.
For SC friends who know Marcus Lattimore: he and wife, Miranda, were stopped on a cross country road trip recently. If this doesn’t chill you…
After admitting to speeding 5 mph over the speed limit, they were detained, interrogated in separate police vehicles, and the K9 unit was brought to search their car. Eventually, they were allowed to go on their way, without being issued a speeding ticket.
Bishop Curry: His opinion piece in the Washington Post is reminding us to practice the way of love.
Rachel Cargle: Her course, The Great Unlearn, is offered on Paetreon as a pay-as-you-can offering.
On Instagram? Follow these voices.
Our last 11 skills have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today we are joining voices with those battling the racial pandemic. We are taking action–in more ways than simply this blog. Donating, marching, reading, taking opportunities to talk with people, to listen to others…these are a few of the things we are doing. Will you join us in taking part in a much needed cultural shift?
The messy part of this is what is happening in your gut right now. Are you experiencing a reflexive need to defend yourself? To argue a different viewpoint? We are asking you to pause, take a breath, consider some of what we are posting, breathe again, and join the conversation.
This is going to be messy friends. Heck–it’s already very messy and has been since the founding of this country. If you are going to work on this skill, expect it to be uncomfortable. Get comfortable being uncomfortable…
Amy and Rhea
Amy Sander Montanez, D. Min., LPC, LMFT
I have a private practice of individual psychotherapy and marriage counseling in Columbia, SC. A few years ago my book, Moment to Moment: The Transformative Power of Everyday Life, won Spirituality and Health’s top 100 books of the year. I am passionate about many things in life, but especially about psychology, spirituality, dancing, cooking, marriage, family, friends, writing, traveling, and learning. www.amysandermontanez.com
You can email me at [email protected]
Rhea Ann Merck, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist, persistent woman, mother of 2 amazing young women, writer, teacher, life-long learner, curious & creative human, lover of life, passionate about making life better every day…