I’m feeling called to write this post in the midst of the first of a series of lunar eclipses this month. Shit is gonna get real. This full moon energy has been lingering inside of me all day, and for a few days now. It’s like a quiet little mystical flute playing in the back of my mind, urging me to find space and quiet to go deeper.
Everything in the world feels upside down. It feels like an entire system collapse, which in my opinion is very much needed and beneficial. Peace and love are a great place to be, but we can’t get there until we muddle through all the dense layers of pain and hurt that is coming up and being felt by all of us collectively.
What’s happening right now with the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd is truly incredible. The number of people showing their support, questioning their beliefs and programming, and starting to actually feel the pain of their fellow man is amazing. For the past week, I’ve been caught in feelings of anger, hurt and outrage empathized and magnified around all corners. Engaging in discussions, researching, reading, and letting yourself feel all the white guilt of benefiting off a system that oppresses and dehumanizes fellow human beings, is just the beginning of what we all need to be doing to move forward.
That brings me to #1:
- I am letting go of being complicit in a system of injustice
We’re all complicit. This is a hard reality to take in. It brings up feelings of shame, guilt, and defensiveness. In some ways, it’s not our fault. We’re born into a system, educated, indoctrinated into these beliefs, and are cemented into our way of thinking that this physical reality constantly affirms.
I’ve grown up in a predominantly white community, I was born in one of the whitest states in America, I lived in Lithuania, which is just about the smallest and least diverse place you could find (because there was never any slave trade or immigration into the country). In primary school in Lithuania, my friends would speak in awe of seeing black people. I’m not sure if that counts as ignorance or racism, that this tiny Eastern European country had so little exposure to the outside world that children are amazed by the sight of someone who isn’t white. It also doesn’t help that one of the first pride parades that happened there (I remember the one in 2011) ended with violent attacks from neo-Nazis of neighboring Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. When I was 9 years old, I was bullied in school for being American, speaking up in class, and being called a “lesbian”. I remember being confused about why they were chanting this word so spitefully at me, I had a lesbian aunt and I didn’t see anything wrong with her. I was raised in the Catholic church, went to the first communion classes, Lithuanian Jesus camp every summer. When I was 16 my camp counselor didn’t know what the word depression meant. When I explained it to her, she was shocked that it had a word. The country has had the highest suicide and alcoholism rates, especially among men. I don’t feel comfortable coming out to my Lithuanian friends as bisexual. I benefit from being “straight passing” as I would call it, I guess. I’m in a relationship with a guy, I “pass” as straight, and I wouldn’t have any reason to feel called out or targeted because of it. But this also leads to my identity being erased. My own family didn’t believe me when I came out.
But where I’m going with this, is that for the majority of my life, I’ve been in white/heteronormative spaces. I opened my mouth sometimes but often stayed silent out of fear of alienation. But when I was 16 and moved back to Maine again, I started going to a new type of high school. Expeditionary learning, experimental, forward-thinking, and diverse. African-American communities and their culture were honored and given space to express. From dance performances, poetry, speaking about their experiences, and friendships, this new awareness soaked into me. Just hearing, appreciating, getting to know people who were different than me, helped me grow my perspective. Being in a community that promoted activism, questioning, and change really shaped me, although it came at the end of my high school experience. Coming from a rich New Jersey high school where racism, sexism, and football were rampant, it wasn’t even that hard to adjust to a new awareness and consciousness.
Although it’s good to be aware though, now we need so much more than that. I’m still complicit, I’m still benefitting from my white privilege, I’m still not doing everything I could. I’m still aware that this problem is not the most pressing for me personally, and in every moment that I turn my eyes away, or ignore it, or think it’s “solved”, I am a part of the oppression. It’s easy to talk about sexism, climate change, LGBTQ issues because I feel like I’m “allowed” to speak on those things. But now, more than ever, we have to be willing to feel uncomfortable, have those conversations, even if we don’t feel like we “should” or “it’s not our issue”. We have to listen. Our white voices and bodies are NEEDED now, to support, shield, protect, and help us ALL move forward.
It’s not that hard to listen. It’s not that hard to pick up a book, or a movie, or even just watch a video on YouTube. It may be painful, yes. But that pain is necessary to show us what’s broken in this world we live in. And we’re the ones responsible for changing it.