004 | COMFORT IN THE DISCOMFORT: the white duty
Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Hey, friends. How are you? I hope this episode finds you well. I first want to start out saying that I've been avoiding recording this episode this week because it really just hasn't felt right yet for me to speak out and use my voice to fill your ears, rather than other voices that who have been speaking from experience online + on their own podcasts + on their own platforms.
but it also doesn't feel right just sitting quietly.
I've been using Instagram through my photography page + the Souls Undressed page to funnel resources to my following, but I think that there's a very special community that is being built here + because of that I feel that it is important to share something that I wrote last Sunday. Last Sunday was the day that this podcast went live. I haven't posted about it much at all for the reason being just wanting to hold space for the war on racism + war on the people that is happening right now. I say that because I think that while racism is this problem that is so long overdo of being cured, it is just this sickness that is permeated so deep through our country.. I think this time is also uncovering things that we need to be paying attention to in our governmental structure, + the ways that we the people are able to pacified + satisfied in ways that maybe aren't serving us to the best that we could be served.
Really, that deeper governmental topic will be for other times, today is about our Black community, + about holding space + communicating perspective + creating some direction with our thoughts towards what we should be doing, what space we should be holding for our humans who are being oppressed. + just completely + utterly shit on due to the oppression that is just woven so deeply into what is our norm in America at this time. I've written a bit that I'll share with you this afternoon, but I'll go ahead + get started with the quote for today.
"The more we try to stay comfortable today, the more uncomfortable we will be tomorrow. There really is no destination, there is only exploring, exploring, exploring."
Because I happened to have written this episode on Breonna Taylor's 27th birthday, I am going to begin today's episode with a moment of silence instead of our usual introductory song.
My brother was 27 when he died. Although it was a result of his own actions, I feel that there will be some people who may read this who will still feel more of a gut-wrench than they did when I told you that we'd be starting with a moment of silent today for Breonna. I say this because Breonna's life wasn't cut short because of her own choice or because of her own actions. She was killed by error, by human tired to serve + protect. Yet, we're so used to hearing the narratives of young Black people dying too soon + by mistake.
I want us to feel the weight of this.
These lives ending too god damn soon.
Today, I'll be reading something I wrote for you last Sunday, on launch day. Like I said before, I didn't decide to share the podcast or share anything about the launch last week because I wanted the attention to be directed to sources that could educate us. I don't feel that just because of existing + just because of having a platform means that I have the ability to educate you, so I wanted to take the time to dive into so many resources. I dove into TV shows, I dove into books, I dove into podcasts, I dove into educators + scholars who have taken the time to study the disparities that we are experiencing + who have taken the time to form their vocabulary in a way that it can really help us reflect. I have waited to share anything until I felt that I could do that. That I could provide something that could help you reflect.
While I wrote this last Sunday, I was able to recognize that I was writing it out of a lot of anger + still even this past week I found myself not really being able to navigate very many conversations about these current injustices without anger. I have spoken very harshly + very irrationally to friends, to family, + I think that that's something that we have to be able to recognize in ourselves when these topics are spreading us thin + preventing us from thinking clearly because like I said at the beginning, I think that there's a bigger picture here + I think I'm seeing perspectives that reflect that across the different places [on the web + in conversation] that I've looked for perspective, information, + reflection.
I think that it's important that we acknowledge that whatever biases, whatever our initial reaction is, that it will do us well to sit and think on that + sit with that and reflect on it because our own perspectives will also help us recognize our own blindspots + I think that that is really going to be the secret here to being able to see people where they need to be seen is just to be able to recognize that our blindspots exist.
So, I did not decide to share a podcast today because I want to be replacing any narratives of People of Color that are speaking; I decided to share a podcast today, this week because I know that there are a community of you forming here + I want to encourage you to do your homework in this fight that's going on. I'll be sharing other podcasts, books, Instagram pages, shows + recommendations by some of the amazing humans that I've been following + learning from on Instagram + in their communities, so I'll share those in the notes of this podcast + I'll even talk about some when I get to the end as well.
What I'm about to read to you I wrote from my heart as someone who has been working on identifying my blindspots through my own privileges since very early on in college. I think I got a very unique perspective + I used to think it was just by chance, but now I feel like there is a bit more divine meaning in that.
I was placed into an Urban Education "branch" of the behavior course that I had taken in college + I didn't sign up for the course on purpose. We got to sign up based on the time slots that we wanted, we didn't learn anything about the course or the professors beforehand, but I ended up being graced with such a strong, powerful, determined woman as my professor + she was able to teach me so much through the eyes of the Black community, through the eyes of an oppressed community, not always Black, that I had never seen before. Being in Bloomington-Normal for school, I had access to more diversity than I had being in Coal City, IL, + coming back home here, I was able to see the ways that my comfort + my norms had blinded me to the things that I hadn't seen before taking that class with my professor. Through this class I got to go into different villages + communities within Chicago, + I got to take part in classes across a different variety of ages in Chicago Public Schools + I was able to understand just how much I didn't understand, + understand that I was probably never going to fully understand due to the fact that I had so much "comfort" in going home to Coal City.
I know that this is a buzzer word, but being able to see that comfort allowed me to see that I have a privilege of being able to call home such a quiet community, that is so blinded by our comfort + by our privileges, that we don't even recognize the disparity that is going on right next door.
Please know that that is the place that I am about to be reading you from. I feel that I'm very lucky to have had an early start in recognizing where my blindness lies through my whiteness ,+ I could start working to become anti-racist actively in my home + in my community + in my circles early on. But I also speak on this recognizing that my job as an ally to the Black community and to the communities of color who have been oppressed, + to our white communities who have been oppressed of everyday, normal comforts that middle-class + upper-class white America have access to, our jobs will never end; our jobs as allies will never end. I am working ways to support this fight into my business that will exist in the day-to-day that will pull from my finances in the day-to-day rather than just systemically every time something messed up happens that the media draws our attention to.
I also encourage you after listening to this episode to widen your funnel of your media that you take in. By that I mean, begin to scale out on the accounts that you follow + the news outlets that you take in. I challenge you just to widen your lens a bit + that's what I meant by scale out. Consider taking in even more diverse outlets than you already currently do. Of course, I am saying that from not knowing what you're taking in. That's my point. If you can broaden your perspectives at every level, no matter where you stand, I think communicating with people who you feel oppose your viewpoints will become easier, because we can understand where their level of understanding is coming in at.
Before I read to you what I've written, we're going to take a 27 second long moment of silence in honor of Breonna Taylor's 27th birthday.
Comfort in the Discomfort: The White Duty:
Thank you for taking that time. Now, for what I wrote on Sunday:
Some people have to feel safe + seen by others to mourn.
I read a quote within the last few days that lead me to paraphrase something like that above.
As White America, I, we, have to each do our individual duty in actively creating space for Black America to feel safe + seen by White America. The demographic that is systemically oppressed + relentlessly harassed for decades. If you don't want Black America to create spaces where they share their abundance of unrest in order to make their brutal physical, emotional + psychological pain known, then YOU must do your part in creating an environment that sees them, all of them.
Their pain, successes, celebrations + the like.
Just like it sees those things in your own children, your own brothers and sisters, the way you create an environment here, right now, that sees me.
The challenge we're being faced with here is the flawed belief system that if you have or believe one thing, means you must also be or believe the "opposite". Something that someone in society says was so.
To believe that because I can see a very clear historic pattern of how the law enforcement system has been used as an excuse to use excessive force by some, means that I must also hate all police officers + enforcement officers of the like because they must all be terrible, but it's impossible to be a police officer + to also not stand for unlawful brutality. Are you hearing of those stories?
To believe that because I can recognize that the shade of my skin provides me privilege, I must obviously hate all of White America. Have you felt yourself feeling that defensiveness?
To disagree with a close-minded American, is to automatically celebrate everything they hate. I'm also going to add in, this wasn't written, but, I've experienced it this week. To disagree with someone who is so comfortable in what they have, is to challenge + threaten that very comfort + forced them to ask themselves if they're willing to give it up.
You have to be willing to realize by now, even if not until May 2020, that this is not a sustainable way to live.
We will lead ourselves straight to hell if we allow our minds to be filled with lies that to explore + navigate your own belief systems deeper, to better understand them, makes you only one thing or another... Never open-minded or to hold space for better understanding.
I want to remind you that each and every belief system within you from the way you critique yourself to match some other, to the way you question, "but what was he doing?" is learned.
You didn't get to choose what environment + belief system raised you + laid the early building blocks for your own belief systems, + that's something I understand quite well, but just like I did, you get to choose where your own belief system and moral codes lie right now.
What you'll stand for.
Who you'll refuse to sit quietly next to while they verbally or physically destroy your brothers and sisters who love the same depths, bleed the same shades of red + require the same quality of life to thrive as you do, but who also happen to be a different shade than you.
Because I am not a betting human, but I'm willing to bet that as a white human being in America, your shade hasn't made this life's existence harder for you.
My American brothers and sisters, we need to step back, consider what our government has shown us of themselves over the past year. We have a civic responsibility to pay attention, sit back to breathe + collect ourselves + come together.
Because together we stand, divided we fall.
We can say fuck off to the racist belief systems that may have accompanied that saying when it originated, but the saying itself is real.
We as the people, have to come together + do our due diligence to hold each other up, every one of us, yes, you + me, little ol' you + me.
Typing this + saying this won't be enough.
Typing anything from the comfort of our home won't be enough because I will not sit quietly while I watch us be lead into a war zone within the streets of our cities. Tanks, rolling down the streets of our cities.
Does that feel heavy?
Because it should.
You'll know you finally gathered the weight of the situation when it begins to feel like someone is taking away your air to live.
It'll begin to feel like what I can only imagine is just the tip of the iceberg of being
I want us to wake up. I want us to take things in responsibly. I want us to stand up for our beliefs even if they're different from the person that we love next to us, but I want us to open our minds to the idea + the concept that we may be conditioned to benefiting + enjoying systems that step on other races, other classes, other socioeconomic households.
We are stepping on each other.
If we aren't willing to open up our minds to even acknowledging the existence of that conditioning, we are part of the problem.
I don't mean part of the police brutality problem.
I don't mean part of white people hating black people.
I mean part of the problem of systemically oppressing people who are different than us.
We have to be willing to to take in media that isn't being shown to us on the TV.
Our news-casting systems, our president pushing a drug that then had to be followed by doctors begging our people not to listen. You have to consider what you are taking in. I created an episode about shifting our norm originally out of wanting us to be able to see the human body as beautiful in whatever shape or tone it looks, but I feel like it is almost necessary even more because at some point in time we have to become responsible consumers, we have to be aware of what we're taking in, you have to wake up, you cannot just keep taking what is spoon fed to us.
I also want to acknowledge that what I am going to end this podcast with is a very "buzz-word-filled topic". I heard a perspective on Black Lives Matter vs. all lives matter recently + regardless of what opinion you have on that, I wanted to read it to you, just to leave it here for you to chew on.
To those who have uttered the words "all lives matter," imagine your child has died.
You're standing at the podium, at their funeral, giving their eulogy, speaking of the importance + the light that they brought to this life when someone comes up, pushes you out of the way, + shouts angrily at you, "All children matter!"
But your child, your child that is the one that has died.
I can tell you, that no one would have approached me when I was speaking at my brother's funeral, giving his eulogy + told me, "all lives matter," "all brothers mattered," "all 27-year-olds matter," because I was morning his death.
Black America is mourning the death of their young + old at ridiculously increasing rates.
At rates that are so disproportionate.
We are watching + listening to Black men + women of all ages be murdered + discriminated against for the color of their skin . We, as white America, do not get to shout that all lives matter because until Black Lives Matter, your bullshit phrase of, "all lives matter," cannot exist. I agree, everyone with a brain, a conscious + a soul agrees that human breath should matter, but unfortunately, history has shown us, that that's not true.
When you go to a breast cancer walk, do you hear lunatics running through the crowd shouting, "ALL CANCERS MATTER!"? No. Because that movement is to serve that cancer. Black Lives Matter is to serve an uplift the Black community against the cancer that is racism. Until that cancer is eradicated, you will continue to hear people of all colors shouting from the streets + the rooftops that Black Lives Matter.
Regardless of the discomfort or the cheering in your gut + in your head, allow that to be your guide.
Allow that to be a greater guide than anything you take in Instagram, on anything you take in on Facebook, on anything you listen to.
Allow that feeling in your gut right now + in your mind, to be your guide.
Question: If my brother had died because someone brutally beat him or someone cut off his air supply, while people watched, would you feel like this wasn't a problem?
By now I am assuming you know, I am a humanist.
I don't give a shit about political parties, I don't give a rats about how it makes people feel when I defend other humans, but I want you to reflect on the feeling in your gut, are you a humanist?
Are you going to do what it takes to make sure that there is a system in place that treats the people breathing the same air as you to the same opportunities?
I really wasn't planning on getting this deep into this + ranting, but I feel the need to share this last thought:
When we look into oppressive systems, we have to look into ways that those systems either ignore or maintain barriers to the population that is being oppressed. We have to look at the ways that systems that are doing the oppressing are ignored due to the comfort of those people who are doing the oppressing. We have to think about that. If I as a while person, feel entitled to my comfort, why would I willingly disrupt that comfort to acknowledge someone that I've ignored, unless I choose not to ignore the fact that my comfort is stealing + taking away from someone who is being oppressed.
It is our job.
It is your job as a human being.
It is our job as a human race.
How can you stand + put your hand over your heart, + call + cheer + praise the "home of the free" when you aren't also calling for better frickin' change in system that allows everyone to be free?
I get to experience so many different souls on a regular basis that I know that the ratio of good souls to bad souls are higher + I don't even like saying bad souls, but people who are awake + aware, you're there! It's recognizing the ways that we're conditioned without us realizing it. That is where the change comes. Our system is woven with right-handed privilege. I will find the doctor that I can link who came up with that study of right-handed privilege so that you can read up on it, but we have a country that was built on systems and beliefs that serve the people who built + I don't know if you've realized yet, but our country doesn't look the same as it did when it was built. When it was taken. When our ground rules were laid down.
We speak all the time in education about how we should constantly be doing the roadwork, we should constantly be doing the construction, There's always systems that are being made better. Yet, we cannot fathom disrupting the norm that is the belief systems that our country was born on.
I'm going to stop rambling, so that I don't wear you out before you can look into the other resources that I'm leaving here for you. Please acknowledge right now that I can only ever speak to you from a white perspective + that although there can be good insights that come from white perspective because we can speak from experience of acknowledging our own blindspots + our own unintended racism, we cannot speak from the experience of our black brothers + sisters and of our oppressed brothers + sisters of any color who can speak on these experiences + the ways that outside of numbers + outside of things we hear reported on the news, that these systems are impacting them + that we can support them.
Please do that for you, for me, + for your sisters and brothers of all races + socioeconomic statuses + different levels of power.
Do this work, do this homework, it's our civic duty.
I love you guys, if you are looking for a quick watch to get you started while you begin into this exploration of these resources. I highly recommend turning on Dear White People on Netflix, it is amazing so far. I love it. I highly recommend it. I also have started reading White Fragility, Why It's So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism. It is written by Robin DiAngelo, a white woman, but a white woman that can acknowledge that she can only speak from her perspective and her studies. She has a lot of really great experiences. It is a little tough to read, it is written with a lot of scholarly vocabulary, but if you choose to buy it, or buy the e-book, I would love to have a book club type of community where we can talk more about it and break it down in the ways that we see it apply to the environments around us.
Thank you so much for being here, I am sending all of my love. Please look for the ways that you can help in the show notes.
Sending my love + piece, you guys. Be good. Do good. Love + support your human race.
START HERE: https://chinookfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Supplemental-Information-for-Funding-Guidelines.pdf
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