Tag Archives: racism

Sometimes, I can’t breathe

15 Jul
© 2010 The Huntington Archive

© 2010 The Huntington Archive

I am furious. I am consumed by Kaliesque rage in the pit of my stomach. The shaking that you feel when you know you’ve been pushed too far.

When I sat down to write today, all I could think about was my two year old son. His innocence, his joy. The shaking manifest from my understanding that in a few years, he and I will need to talk about what it means to be a black man in America. My anger grows wings in my realization that I have spent twenty plus years on my mat, thinking/praying that it would be different. Believing that since I see the connection in all things, that maybe we all do. Imagining that he would somehow escape the conversation my grandmother had with me, or her parents had with her. The conversation that lays out that as people of color, we have different rules, different gazes, different demonstrations of ego. I believed that maybe by the time I had children of my own that we would have moved beyond this country’s racial sickness. And, that my little boy would not have to internalize a double standard.

Um, well, no. And, so Kali rears her frightful head. She roars at the thought of my baby keeping his mouth shut when someone calls him a racial slur, or pulls him over for driving his mother’s car. Kali swings her mace at all the police profiling him as he hangs out with his friends or walks from his campus to the convenience store. She rips off heads a the understanding that no amount of education or wealth makes it different. And after her display of anger and violence, all she is left with her is breath. Breathing and looking at the destruction, waiting for a garden to spring out of the blood soaked ground.

I can breath through a handstand, because I know it helps to changes my perspective. I can breath when trying something new on my mat, because I know it’s finite, that with work, commitment and the grace of god, I may make progress. But this, this, I can’t breathe through. It’s not an individual pursuit. For anyone that feels the internal sinking on the mention of Treyvon Martin, for those of you that hear things that make you want to swing a mace in the face of the speaker, for those you that want to roar but feel the need to keep up appearances. I ask you to stop holding it in, to take a deep breath, and exhale together.

Change this big requires the work of many, maybe all, to breathe collectively, and push through the stuck spots in our consciousness that don’t want to budge. We make progress as a society when the load to bear becomes too much for too many. Even though we can be consumed by rage, I want to use it as a door opener. I don’t want this conversation to end, because the news cycle does.

Can we use this anger, and the fear that precedes it to move into conversation? Can we challenge ourselves and others to keep our eyes open? Can we breath? And, then can we talk?

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Video

Heal the World, One Word at a Time

14 Jun

“and there we were, the same human beings. It was just that he was wearing that skin and I was wearing this skin. And it was no more or less than that.”
-Baba Ram Dass

Even in 2013 we have so much work to do. Children in schools bullied by teachers and other students for not falling into line or looking different. Odd conversations on planes that leave us all feeling as if the air has been let out of our tires. Explaining to our young children of color why they see so many people people that look like them going to jail on TV and not so many people that look like them as their doctors or teachers.

Cracking the Codes is an amazing film by World Trust and Shakti Butler that goes further than your typical diversity seminar and is held in so much love that it is truly accessible, even to those that believe that racism no longer exists in the world.

Through her and her teams skillful facilitation people are encouraged to examine places where they have been othered, bringing your experience directly into the body. And once you feel an experience from your own perspective, you can not pretend that it does not exist.

I love this film for the ways it made me open my own eyes, for the window it gave me on the shared experience of wanting to belong that we all have. And, how exclusion and systematic reinforcement of exclusion continue to harm the whole world and make use sicker and sicker.

We can use words to heal the world. With one sentence at a time we can start to break down paradigms that we accept as the norm.

We all have to start somewhere, on the mat, with a piece of art or in collaborative dialogue with another. How do you want to start the conversation?

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