A Reminder

(This is a letter to myself. A reminder and synthesis of my learnings from my weekend at Free Minds Free People 2019. When I refer to whiteness I’m not referring to the color of my skin but the system and culture of white supremacy that I permeates everything. I interchange you/we but I am not speaking for or to anyone but myself although I am sharing publicly to consistently hold myself to these learnings, until the morph and shift into new learnings that I am in need of learning.)

Be who you are. There’s space in the circle for you.

Resisting is remembering who you are.” -Bettina Love

What does this mean? This means that throughout my life I’ve downplayed my Southern upbringing or not shared being divorced or struggling with mental illness AND there is a place for me in the circle. The circle can always grow. There’s not a limited supply of seats. I think of the game musical chairs has conditioned me to think that if folks know my stuff that maybe I’ll be one pushed out of the circle. But that’s just not the case and if I’m being pushed out due to being me, it’s not the space I want to be in anyways.

“I’m committed to abolition because I don’t believe there are any throw away people.” – Carla Shalaby

You are not alone. Even when you feel alone there’s someone with you.

What is the work we are doing and for whom are we doing it for?” – David Stovall

Whiteness works in ways that are exclusive, exclusionary, and alienating except humanity’s nature is in community, in the collective. Our shame, our fears, our perfectionism causes us to feel small and not reach out. That circle that continues to grow (#1) is always there to support and even if they aren’t physically with you, their spirits are.

“We can’t talk about freedom if we don’t have freedom in our community.” -Bettina Love

You do not and ARE NOT the first or the only. Find the spaces already doing the work. Understand the space and the place.

Remember that we are already free. They don’t want you to remember.” -Bettina Love

We want to feel special, original, unique – but this thinking leads us into that exclusion and alienation (#2). Find the folks doing the work in your community and find ways to authentically support. Find the folks building the world you want to live in and help them build, side by side, or even and actually most times, with you doing the work no one sees or knows. Because really, it’s not about you. Listen deeply to those in the spaces, understand the history, know your bias in your listening and understanding and push yourself through it to really hear.

“We are not the ones. They [kids] are better at it. They are not as harmed or as cynical.” – Carla Shalaby

You don’t need to know the end result, the scale, the future.

“Do not think about your profession – think about your ancestors, your responsibility, restoration.” – Stephanie Autumn

When we stay in the space of paralysis of understanding what will happen, nothing happens. There’s this beautiful balance of trust and mistrust, hope and being grounded in reality – we must be a both/and, no longer an either/or. The binary polarization creates that alienation and paralysis.

“Hope is a discipline.”
“The horizon I’m working towards I’ve never seen.” – Mariame Kaba

But, visualize what’s on the other side of the fight. Really know what it feels like so when things are hard you can visit it.

In order to break free, you have to know what you’re breaking free from.” – David Stovall

So often we know what we’re fighting against. Over and over I’ve heard and practiced visualizing what freedom looks like, feels like, tastes like, smells like. Spend some time doing that – in your body, in your community, in the world. We are self centered beings but expanding further beyond ourselves as we practice this visualization will ensure we are thinking of the collective. When we think only of our safety, we end up with police and surveillance. When we think of the collective, we end up with a care statement or the love ethic embodied.

“If we are countering a system seed the alternative. Let us be what we are working towards.” – Ruha Benjamin

It’s all connected. Education, spirituality, policies, outcomes. Nexus.

“What is the role of spirituality in this space to remember our freedom?” – Awo Okaifor

Alienation, silos, separateness it’s all part of whiteness. If we actually were integrated, our power would be revealed and that’s a scary to those currently in power. Separating out things in silos keeps us weak and disempowered, when we make and encourage connections and integration we are strong and empowered. Education is a spiritual practice. Without a spirit in it, it’s what we all despise – sterilized testing centers with violent responses to human behavior. When you are feeling separated – when you’re angry and thinking in binary, extreme ways – integrate through movement, breathing, song, laughter, connection.

My wellness is bound by your wellness. If I am ill, so are you. If we are not internally well, it is not sustainable.” – Jamila Lyiscott

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