In the animal world, it indicates danger: the most colorful creatures are often the most poisonous.
Color is also a way to attract, and seduce a mate.
In the human world color, triggers many
more complex, and often deadly reactions.
Judith Ortiz Cofer, The Story of My Body Minding the Body
There’s been a breach in our humanity. The breach is continuous, violent and specific. The bleed is rattling the cage of race, racism and rage. The confines of denial, and being denied have become places of suffocation. We have stayed here long enough. We are battle fatigued and need to break free.
This is the invitation, dear reader: to update your capacity to hold the necessary shifts in the world, bringing yourself into this evolving reality. This is an invitation for your participation. You are needed.
Equanimity requires the majority of people, from diverse backgrounds, to usher in change. Justice, its very flesh and bone, needs healing.
We all must be free.
To live in a world of color is strangely radical. Race, ethnicity, and culture challenge. Period. When seen through a lens focusing on race and color, the multifaceted spectrum of a Person of Color (POC), and their identity get lost. The perspective is eschewed. It’s a false image.
As a POC*, belonging to varied ethnic and cultural identities, my lived experience is outside the norm, and in-between cultural layers of race. I am considered an outlier. A specific, or singular racial identity has not existed within my family for generations. My ancestry is one of inclusion, retaining the global oceanic voyages of Diaspora, from Iberian, African, and Asian coastlines. This DNA is the integration of migratory patterns, held in culture, language and family. They continue to shape me. My participation in the struggle for change is deeply personal. My grief is bearing witness.
*A note on the descriptor, person of color/POC. This term identifies, yet separates people of ethnicity and race. The label is both inclusive, and divisive. I’m aware the label is one of a convenience, complicated, and flawed. I respect your right to self identify.
All ethnic identities are living evolving systems. Since race matters, it’s demanding a more conscious revolutionary engagement. Who are we becoming?
James Baldwin said, “It’s up to you. As long as you think you’re white, there is no hope for you. As long as you think you’re white, I’m going to be forced to think I’m black.”
Making assumptions of race and color is limiting. In fact, it’s dangerous when being ‘an other’ is to be eliminated. Systemic power structures, built in every aspect of life, fuel the elimination, and execution of the vulnerable. What would you call that? Racism is not about race. It’s about power. Racism is lack of consciousness, curiosity, and empathy. It’s about fear. Fighting these strong currents of racism is being thrown into the rapids, then being torn asunder by crocodiles below.
There is a vulnerability in being a person of color. A voiceless-ness has pervaded, like a cloak of invisibility. It creates blindness for the one who cloaks the vulnerable: “I cannot, and will not see you.” And, the blindness is extended to the one who is cloaked: “I cannot see.”
We are all susceptible to limited points of view when it comes to the most vulnerable, the most oppressed, the most invisible. This is when our sensitivity, and action are most needed.
We are moving into the answers individually, then collectively. Initially, the clarion call for transformation is refused. Each of us has to want to change, to have an awakened heart, and mind, inviting lasting conscious change.
So, what’s attainable now? To dismantle racism is an intentional practice of following your awakened heart to be inclusive. Rather than to tolerate, or even to accept, holding this intention of inclusion is an uncomfortable stretch. Inclusion is an invitation, and the whole complements. This is one way we can be accountable, to grow a capacity for broader connection.
Here are some reminders:
We are the solutions to what is going on in the world. Facing the Monsters of Fear, we see past our own lens of fear. What is reflected is the true depth of a person’s humanity, and we can be seen more clearly. We have the opportunity to see one another more brilliantly.
- What is one step can I take now?
- Am I aware of my biases, by-passing and denial?
- How can my privilege serve?
- How can my anger transform?
- How do I have difficult conversations?
- How do I practice self-care if I’m overwhelmed?
Anointing the traumatic wounds of racism is also a turning away from, in order to tune into yourself. Healing is a personal process of conscious conversation, and engagement in a world of color, in its full spectrum and complexity. Take what you learn, know it into action, and transform. You have more influence than you realize. These immediate responses are the sacred offerings to soften the jagged edges of being in the world, and living with compassion.
We can feel the rhythmic pulsing heartbeat of freedom, making our way through the many crossroads of truth, and justice.
Remember as you walk freely from village to village, in this place we call our world:
Our complexity and layered identities are our shared humanity.
Change the paradigm.
When we see ignorance and trembling in ourselves, know it to be fear, cloaking our true humanity
When we see ignorance,
and trembling in others,
join the cause to be free, and noble.
Know ourselves enough to set the cage on fire.
The time is now to fly.