Take a breath. Let your guard down. It’s not about us. And it is.
No one can control the skin colour they are born into. White skin comes with a kind of privilege that Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) never experience. If we cannot see this privilege, we are a part of the problem.
If we say we don’t see colour because we believe we love everyone equally, let’s consider that we may be ignoring and erasing the struggles of an entire population of people who are judged, oppressed and harmed because of the colour of their skin. Every day.
The truth is, it’s extremely challenging, if not impossible, to ‘get over’ or heal through a trauma that is still happening. The trauma that BIPOC are experiencing is not just in the past. It’s here, now.
THE IMPACT IT HAS WHEN WE SAY “BUT NOT ALL WHITE WOMEN”
“But not all white women.” I’ve said it myself, and I have come to see that this response is harmful. As white women, we all have the power to raise up and illuminate issues that affect BIPOC today. If we aren’t actively doing that, if we aren’t actively unpacking our own biases, if we aren’t actively being an activist in whatever form that takes for us - our white privilege is a part of the problem.
Yes, we have suffered. Yes, life hasn’t always been easy. This is not about that. No one is denying that. Let’s resist the urge to make it about ourselves when someone else has finally had the courage to share their pain and their voice - even when it shakes.
THINK OF IT LIKE THIS
Someone who has been hurt by a man writes a letter, a plea, to all men. They start it, Dear Men:
A man chimes in to argue, and says “not all men”. He wants to prove that he is the exception. He is making it about him, instead of bearing witness to a woman sharing her pain. Perhaps his silence about the actions of men is a part of the problem? Instead of needing to prove that he feels he is not one of them, couldn’t he be using his energy to stand up for this woman who is finally having the courage to share? To say, YES, as a man I, too, need to do better. NOT THEY. I. Me. *I* can do better.
And couldn’t he take time to reflect, with a truly open heart, and ask himself…how can I do better? How can I be a part of a world where women do not have this experience and where no more Dear Men letters NEED to be written because no woman is suffering at the hands of one?
Does he reply to call her a victim? Does he tell her she should be doing her work to rise up and not complain so much? Does he tell her there are other world issues she should be speaking to as well? Does he tell her she’s not healed or spiritual enough? Does he minimize her and take up space by telling her she isn’t doing enough or is somehow doing it wrong? Does he write to her with a long list of everything he’s doing to try and prove that he has nothing to do with her pain? Does he talk down to her and tell her he has the solutions she needs to heal?
A part of healing is having a loving witness. We all need people who can hear our story, see our lived experience and bear witness to it. When someone has the courage to share their story and experience, we have a sacred opportunity. To see them. To honour them. To share and illuminate their voice by shining a light on the issues that are still affecting them every single day so that they’re not the only ones standing up for themselves. This is powerful. This is healing. This is community.
If we are truly all one then what affects you, affects me. I cannot turn away from your suffering without turning away from a part of myself. If I judge you, I am judging myself. If I shame you, I am shaming myself.
Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t mean rising above the pain of others and committing ourselves to focusing only on higher consciousness. Sometimes, it means getting down on our hands and knees with someone who is suffering and whispering…you’re not alone…I see you. You being where you are does not make you less than me. I am willing to see all of you.
WHEN WILL OUR WORK BE DONE?
When there is freedom, equality and justice for all.
When the negative impact of our ancestors actions are no longer causing harm.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE FEELING TRIGGERED
If you are triggered, take a breath. A trigger happens when there’s something we are uncomfortable looking at. It’s a message. It’s a gift. It’s not something we need to bring to a BIPOC for them to fix. They don’t need to hear about it when we are triggered by what they say or do. Expecting that of them is emotional labour that isn't theirs to do. Bring it to a counsellor. Bring it to a white friend. Do the work. Find out what your soul is trying to tell you because every single trigger you have around the words, white woman, has to do with you and not with the BIPOC using it.
IF YOU WANT TO BE AN ALLY
Don’t talk about what a great ally you are - instead, show people by who you are and what you do. Illuminate the voices of BIPOC. Stand beside and behind them. Speak up when you see injustices taking place. Be aware of what’s happening in the world.
Keep your heart open. You have been invited to see something from a different perspective. To see someone whose life experience you can’t even begin to understand, through no fault of your own, but by the privilege given to you at birth through the colour of your skin.
Take a breath. It’s not about you. And it is.
Can we open our hearts to see beyond our own need to be right and our own need to be seen? Can we see someone else without stepping in front of them and their words and shadowing them? Can we hold space? Can we be true allies?
WHY IT MATTERS
WE ARE NEEDED. We are called in to the conversation directly not to be shamed, but to be shared with. Not to be hurt, but to SEE the hurt that others are experiencing every single day either from our actions or INACTION, from our voice or from the SILENCE of our voice. Let’s not be bystanders. We have an opportunity here. A sacred and vital opportunity.
We rise only if we rise together.
I am not a racial educator. I am so far from feeling that I know enough to even write this message, but I share anyways because I see that my silence has been harmful. I share my heart and soul, as a white woman, for the white women who are willing to hear it and for the BIPOC who have been exhausting themselves responding to being challenged by white women over and over again.
I am learning, every single day. Reflecting, showing up imperfectly but committed to showing up none the less. I still have much to learn and I am doing the work because I was called into it by BIPOC who have been working actively to rise up to the systems and individuals who oppress and harm them daily.
WHO I FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM
If you don’t already please follow: Asha Frost, Layla Saad, Leesa Renee Hall , Rachel Cargle and Shaun King. Please pay one or all of them for their work in the world. Buy their courses, contribute to the causes they share, illuminate their voices, honour their emotional labour and tell others about them. Do what you can to be a true and active ally. You are needed. We are needed. All of us.
If you want to comment below, I ask that you use the space as an opportunity to raise up the voices of BIPOC. To contribute to being a helper. To contribute by adding additional insights and wisdom in a way I could not.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
If you want to do something today to start being a part of the solution, please go and read this important blog post by my friend Asha Frost.
Hear her. See her. Reflect on her words. Share her post wide and far. Comment underneath of it with your support. If you feel the need to say, “but not all white women” please take pause ask yourself it that is helpful or if it’s causing more harm, if it’s about you being liked or about you truly being willing to bear witness to the voice of another.
WHERE TO START
If you want to start doing the work to help be a part of dismantling white supremacy, please go and pre-order the book White Supremacy and Me by Layla Saad.
Go and watch Robin DiAngelos's teaching around people saying, “I’m not Racist.".
LET US HEAR FROM YOU
If you know of other books, resources or courses created that can help white women begin to step up and do the work, please share them below. If you have suggestions of people to follow on social media who are actively showing up to this work, please share them below.
I am learning, along side you. I am speaking up, imperfectly. I am showing up because I know that I am needed and I know that you are needed, too.
I welcome you, with love, to stay connected if your heart so calls you.