When we talk about sensitive topics we will likely offend someone. In this blog article about racism and white privilege (a follow-up to part 1) chances are I will offend some and trigger others as I encourage each of us to take a radical honest look at this sensitive topic. Of course you are welcome to ignore or unfriend me….BUT I encourage you to stick with me.
If you haven’t read my previous post I would recommend you check it out before continuing reading this piece.
Click here to read part 1 now.
To clarify, I am not an expert around these topics. I feel less triggered because I am doing my inner work and feel more confident to speak about them because I have a better understanding, I am still a student. I am also willing to get it wrong because I am still learning.
I am a white woman so I can only speak from my experience as a white woman and the perspectives that I have been shown to help me through this exploration.
My intention is to share my experience to inspire and empower others as they explore how racism and white privilege is playing out in their lives and to support others in processing their triggers.
Before we jump in I encourage you to take 3 deep breaths and review the following 4 principles from my book “Heart Led Living ~ When Hard Work Becomes Heartwork”.
Be willing to heal
- chances are you may be triggered
- be willing to feel your feelings and take ownership for how you feel (projecting blame is not owning your feelings)
- be willing to look within as you heal and unwind your programmed mind
- be willing to take a good radical honest look within to uncover any hidden thoughts and beliefs that will keep you from seeing what you need to see in order to heal
Be open to anything
- imagine your mind is wide open to try on some different perspectives
A curious mind:
- is an open mind
- allows new ideas and concepts to enter
- creates a space for non-judgmental exploration
Be attached to nothing
- let go of everything you think you know as well as everything you think you don’t know so your mind remains open and curious without grasping to ideas or previous programming
So let’s dive in and answer the questions I asked myself as I was exploring my own triggers and feelings about the topics of racism and white privilege.
- As a white woman why did I feel defensive when someone talked about white privilege?
When I first started to hear the term “white privilege” I was confused. At first I didn’t understand what it meant. Confusion was quickly followed by an uncomfortable, uneasy and icky feeling deep inside. It was difficult to wrap my head around the concept and when I did hear some versions of the definition I started to feel defensive.
Some people refer to white privilege as a form of reverse racism. My mind would go to the story that I teach about unconditional love and acceptance, unity and oneness and opening my heart to everyone. And then I would question how is reverse racism going to help reduce racism? It seemed to be adding to it and creating more division. All the while deep down inside I felt uncomfortable and triggered and my default response was to defend.
I know when I feel defensive I am trying to protect something within me. I couldn’t see what I was protecting at first so I avoided the topic for a while. I didn’t want to talk about. I didn’t want to hear about. I didn’t understand it. My defensiveness remained strong with my confusion, yet at the same time I had a deep curiousity and strong desire to understand.
I would journal about my feelings and I would bring everything into my meditations each time I was triggered and ask to be shown another perspective. I was willing to heal, I was open to anything and doing my best to be attached to nothing.
It took some time to unravel the layers and get underneath it but I was persistent. I realized I felt an immense amount of guilt. It was a huge heavy layer of guilt hidden deep within.
- Why did talking about white privilege make me feel guilty and how could I shift that so I remain open to hear, learn and understand it fully?
The Universe has a way of helping us process things in life. I kept coming across articles, videos and other resources that my heart would lead me to explore. Piece by piece, little by little, I continued to have my own internal process to understand white privilege and face my own triggers around it.
One of my favourite lessons in “A Course in Miracles” is “In my defenselessness my safety lies”. I like to use the words “In my defenselessness I am free”. I would repeat these words every time I felt triggered by this topic. I began to drop my defenses and explore what I was protecting underneath. I also brought it into my meditation practice and asked Spirit (the Universe/God/Source) for another perspective.
When I was pointed to guilt, I felt a wave of heavy, icky, dense, dark energy rise up. I became aware and could feel my own hidden guilt washing up. As I sat with it longer I started to become aware of a layer of the collective guilt of humanity.
I felt guilty for any pre-programmed racist thoughts and beliefs in my mind. When I look back now I can see how I had programmed racism and racial biases. I didn’t grow up in a home that intentionally taught racism, it was more the social programming that everyone is exposed to.
I continued to work on unprogramming, unlearning and unwinding my mind and I began to see some inherited racist thoughts and beliefs. I resisted the programming in my mind throughout my life because I tried not to be racist but I have come to realize as a white woman, I have inherited racism programmed in my mind.
As I continued to process the layers of guilt within I could see how white privilege did play a role in my life. I felt guilty because I know as a white woman I had and continue to have it easier in many circumstances just because the colour of my skin.
I felt a huge layer of guilt for all the extreme circumstances of racism caused by white people throughout history as well as present day. This was a trickier layer to uncover because it is more about feeling “guilt by association”.
It is the collective guilt from lifetimes of abuse caused by white people. This is often be buried under shame as well. Guilt and shame are common emotions humans do their best to avoid feeling so these emotions get buried deep. Collective guilt and shame are even heavier and harder to unravel because they don’t feel like our own emotions. It may help to see it as inherited guilt and shame mixed with the collective guilt and shame of humanity.
I for-gave any guilt and shame each time I felt it rise. I offered it over to Spirit to help me heal on every level, physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual. I would imagine the energy and density rising up and out as I for-gave what happened in history and for-gave myself for any time in my past that I felt I was intentionally or unintentionally racist including my hidden programmed thoughts. Then I for-gave the collective guilt and shame and asked for healing for me and all of humanity.
As I continue to do my inner work to clear and heal it gets easier. There is still guilt washing up but it is much less intense and it comes in little waves. The triggers are less frequent and easier to manage but I know there is still much work to do within myself.
- Why do conversations about racism and white privilege seem to create more of a division between us?
I really struggled with the feeling of division or separation that the topic of white privilege seemed to create. It seemed to foster the feeling of them against us or us against them.
Racism has created a deep separation in our society for such a long time and I could not see how it could possibly be helpful to continue to create more division.
The foundation of my spiritual practice are about living oneness and uniting our hearts in love for each other and our planet. It is about coming together and making a conscious choice for love.
Conversations about white privilege seemed to divide us even more so I struggled with it for a while.
Again I brought all of this into meditation and asked for guidance. I asked for new perspective because the one I was holding was one of fear and separation.
I received a beautiful vision and bigger picture that held all of humanity together in a beautiful loving embrace. I was shown the path to get us all to a point of renewed unity. The path will be a challenging journey full of triggers, upset and the appearance of division but it is the only way to heal all our collective wounds.
- Is it possible to process and heal racism without feeling so separate from each other?
I suddenly saw these pockets of unification as different groups of people gathered together to Stand UP Stand OUT and Stand STRONG. They were standing together with a collective courage as they began to find their voice and to speak their truth. I could see a strength rising within each group as they processed their collective wounds.
In the beginning I could see how it would appear to separate us, but when I zoomed out I saw a beautiful orchestration of deep and profound healing for all of humanity. These pockets of unification were all held under an umbrella of a global unification bringing all of us together united in love. It was a beautiful vision that instilled HOPE for humanity once again in my heart, mind and soul.
As we move through this process of healing all the pain and suffering racism has created, it will appear to separate us. If we can process our own collective wounds while honouring each group as they process their wounds, eventually we will all come together and unite in love for each other and our planet.
It will take some time. It will take courage. It will require each one of us to look within and do our own inner work while allowing others to do the same.
- How do we process our old collective wounds while honouring others as they process their wounds?
As a white woman I need to be willing to process my triggers, to feel all of my own guilt and allow the inherited collective guilt to wash up and out.
Guilt and shame are heavy and dense emotions but it is essential that we are willing to give these emotions some space so that the energy can rise and clear. As long as guilt remains hidden within, it will continue to impact our behaviours.
We need to be willing to watch our thoughts and monitor our actions to unwind from inherited racism as we re-program our minds. Only we can monitor our own thoughts and make a conscious choice to change our minds.
We all need to honour and accept that as each group unites and takes a stand, other groups will be triggered. As each group processes their collective wound, it will shine light on the collective wound of another group.
For example, when BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour) unite in strength, their wounds and any collective resentment and/or anger will rise to the surface for healing. As they process their collective wound, it will trigger the collective wound of guilt and shame for white people.
A beautiful example of the unification is the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. I see the campaign is a symbol of strength and courage as black people unite together and take a stand.
This campaign triggers white people because it is bumping up against our collective wound of guilt and shame and bringing it to the surface. Remember, even if we as a white person have tried not to be racist, we have inherited racism and we will feel guilty by association for the abuse at the hands of other white people (past and present).
If white people aren’t willing to feel our own emotional wound of guilt and shame, we will become defensive. Defensiveness doesn’t necessarily look like attack.
In response to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, white defensiveness is disguised as wanting to be inclusive and caring about ALL of humanity which resulted in attempts to shift the campaign to #AllLivesMatter. in order to avoid feeling our own guilt and shame we attempt to move away from the topic of racism by shifting the focus toward a conversation about how #AllLivesMatter.
It sounds all nice, inclusive and like a choice for love but it is actually dishonouring the intention and the purpose of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign.
Let me take a small detour for a moment. The #metoo campaign, which went viral in October 2017, empowered women all around the world to stand united in courage as they shared their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. It was a catalyst that allowed so many women to heal their own trauma as well as the collective wound of women who have endured abuse.
This campaign triggered the collective guilt of men everywhere. Some men stood up in support while others resisted. What if a group of men started a campaign that took away from the momentum and intention of the #metoo campaign? How would women feel? They would feel it was another form of abuse and an attempt to take the power away from women once again.
So with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, we can support and honour the intention of the campaign without taking away the power and momentum it is creating. If we try to change the focus to “all lives matter”, we are actually dishonouring black people and their courage to stand up and say enough is enough. When they are saying #BlackLivesMatter they are not saying all lives don’t matter.
Yes of course many of us want everyone to believe that “all lives matter” but we don’t need to start a campaign to compete with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. AND…IF “all lives” really truly mattered, there wouldn’t be the need for the #BlackLivesMatter campaign.
At this time, the #BlackLivesMatter campaign is necessary to shine light on how racism is still embedded in our society as well as in our own subconscious programming.
I honour the stand black people are taking because it is a global call for change. We all need to take a good radical honest look at racism including our own racial biases and inherited racial behaviours and beliefs and we need to be willing to drop our defenses and process our own guilt and shame (personal, collective and inherited).
The good news is if I don’t have any leftover guilt of my own or from the collective wound of white people, I can honour the campaign and celebrate all black people as they unite in love for each other. Black people need to stand united to heal their own trauma and wounds from centuries of abuse.
We all need to get comfortable with the initial appearance and experience of more division and give permission for each group to stand united. It is the only way to bring all of our collective wounds to the surface and into the light of awareness for healing.
We need to honour each other and be compassionate witnesses to the wounds of other groups as they unite and rise and at the same time we need to honour our own process to heal our own wounds.
Chances are as one group unites, another will be triggered. This creates a ripple effect bringing everything to the surface for healing. Everything must get uncovered because as long as it remains hidden it can’t be healed. Everything must come into the light of awareness to heal.
This is good news! Yes it will look messy. Yes it will feel uncomfortable. Yes it will be deeply challenging.
BUT…if we are all willing to do the work, face our fears, feel our feelings, speak up (even if we get it wrong) and walk through this huge unwinding (together but in some ways appearing separate) we will heal our collective wounds and we will unite in love for each other and our planet.
The one question that remains is a question that only YOU can answer.
Are you willing to do your own inner work so you can play your part in the healing of the whole of humanity?
Say YES. Just say YES!
We can do this! I have complete faith in humanity.
One step at a time…we will get there.
This blog post was revised on July 8th, 2020