“White People Need to be able to Listen”

A simple idea…so why is it so hard to just listen? In Radiant Child Yoga, we teach and experience Deep Listening.  Can we apply the idea of holding a space for deeply listening to Black people’s experiences, even (especially) if it comes through anger, rage, grief?  
This is my point of growth, and that is why I am sharing it.

 

After the 2016 election, I had a phone call with a friend, who is Black, and the founder of a children’s yoga training program similar to mine.  I remember the moment we talked about the movement of resistance that was growing in the wake of this shocking change of government.  I was inviting her to join me in some resistance events. Her answer surprised me. She said something to the effect of “This resistance work will need to be done by you, and others like you, who have white privilege.” Not that she was abdicating power, but I could sense that she felt she could be a target, and it was clear that I would not.  I listened.  That moment stuck with me and informed my life from that time onward.  Before I had only ever had passing thoughts about how I could be helpful, how I could work as an ally to BIPOC.*  But I really heard her. For that moment, I had a glimmer of her point of view. I was shaken to my core—and subsequently I began the (never-ending) process of working with what was formerly unconscious–white privilege.

And now—almost four years later—it feels like racial justice and racial equality is a dawning awareness for myself and others.  Meanwhile, our fellow humans who are BIPOC have been paying the price with their lives and their suffering.

This dawning awareness must translate into action. I truly intend so, and I know so many of us hold that same intention—but intending is not enough. Every day I pledge to take action; Using mindfulness to examine my belief systems, in my working with children, in normal daily encounters with people of all colors. Will you also pledge?  Will you show up for BIPOC?   We have collective power–be it out in the streets, keeping our governmental representatives accountable, and most especially voting BIPOC (and women) into power on November 3rd, or (even better in this pandemic) VOTE BY MAIL.

Radiant Child Yoga has always had training scholarships available, and now we are doubling our focus on offering full scholarships to our upcoming livestreamed RCY 1-3 trainings for select BIPOC who would use the Radiant Child Yoga work to enrich their communities.

I’d like to share some sources with you that I have found helpful, and it is appropriate to be doing so on this holiday that has had very little recognition, Juneteenth .  My governor, Ralph Northam, just proposed legislation to declare Juneteenth a state holiday, and other states have done or are doing the same.  I will be asking Shelley Arthur, who is the writer for our Holiday Yoga book, to write a lesson plan for Juneteenth, and we will let you know when that is available.

As we see the pain and discomfort of the old ways and the old structures crumble around us, let us remember each one of us is powerful, and collectively we cannot be stopped.  

I’m learning about all my hidden assumptions from my upbringing,  and I find myself “untraining” each day a little more. How about you?

Let it be this generation, this time.  It is up to us. 

Much love,

Shakta

*BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

Quotes to Guide Us

“You can be someone who has no intention to be racist,” who believes in and fights for equality, “but because you’re conditioned in a world that is racist and a country that is structured in anti-black racism, you yourself can perpetuate those ideas,” says Ibram X. Kendi  No matter what color you are.”

“Until everyone is protected and treated humanely, none of us have any right to be wearing our patriotism on our sleeve. That’s what “Liberty and Justice for All” means. So all of us who are clinging to the past, it’s time to let that go. There’s a vibrant, beautiful new world being birthed and there’s no amount of hate or fear that can stop it because love always wins.”  Jennifer Foster, creative project collaborator with Radiant Child Yoga.

“No one is born racist or antiracist; these result from the choices we make. Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as we move through life. In the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society. Being racist or antiracist is not about who you are; it is about what you do.” https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/being-antiracist

Recommended Books:

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X.  Kendi
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Iberam X. Kendi
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Articles:

White People Need to Be Able to Listen 

Why You Should Stop Saying “All Lives Matter” 

My White Friend Asked Me to Explain White Privilege

Trusted Resources for Speaking with Children and Families about Social Justice

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