Liberating Race partner
A few years before George Floyd I started learning about the costs of racism through a dear friend who is a Philippina person of color. She was angry and frustrated, justifiably, with white people's ignorance and passivity around racism.
We were living together as housemates and one day she dropped a thick binder onto our kitchen table. "Here is your entry way into actually helping heal racism. You can pick it up, or not, it's your choice."
I looked at the title--Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
Many people would have shied away from the invitation, but like you, I decided to answer the call and started working through the 30-day challenge.
As I began to recognize my privilege, internalized racism, fears, and longings, I had a lot of shame and self-judgement arise. How could I have spent my whole life ignorant of this massive dimension of my existence--my race? I was terrified that someone would call out my racism, that I would say someone to offend someone,
I became a rampant evangelizer of anti-racism work in efforts to rescue my BIPOC kin from oppressive marginalization and save fellow white people from the same fate that I had suffered.
I have a lot of compassion for the "woker-than-thou" protection mechanism I adopted at that time because I've come to see that waking up to racism can be traumatizing for white folks. A whole buffet of trauma reactions can arise that I share more about below. My reaction was predominantly one of anger and fighting.
Thankfully, over time as I continued to learn about how the system is designed to keep us asleep to our white privilege and racism, I began to take it all much less personally. I began to own that healing racism is a part of my path and that's a choice each person gets to make for themselves.
Most importantly, I shifted from a mindset of using my privilege to be a savior that actually disempowered others to being a collaborator and learner on the path of healing racism.
I'm sharing this story with you because my path reflects a shift in consciousness that is so needed right now. And I hope that sharing what I've learned will help you be a vibrant, thriving contributor to healthy culture change.
If activists fighting for anti-racism "win", what kind of culture will prevail? One that we actually want to live in together--one of compassion, care, resilience, and an ability to collaborate--or one that is in perpetual need of an enemy to 'other' in order to derive purpose and worth?
I believe that well-meaning white people, usually progressive, can get into a space of self-righteousness that is just as harmful to actually progress as being overtly racist.
Self-righteousness is a protective front for a weak sense of worth, often influenced by fear, shame, and guilt. It needs be superior to others so we don't have to confront ways we actually feel insecure, lost, and 'bad'.
In order to be collaborators in healing racism, we need to see ourselves as worthy of being honest about our insecurities. The ability to say, "I don't know how to actually be effective at healing racism, but I am committed to being curious about what is needed from BIPOC folks and growing into the best leader that I can be" is everything when it comes to cross-racial partnering.
It's that vulnerability that will free our energy from reactive protection to proactive action.
I know you don't need me to tell you that this is a critical moment for life on Earth and we need all hands on deck. Every moment that passes where we allow the poisonous roots of racism to grip us, our systems, and our institutions we are losing precious lifeforce energy. BIPOC folks deserve rest, self-actualization, and to be supported in living their best lives. Nobody should have their race be a strong influence on their wellbeing.
Overturning the systems begins with scrutinizing our own internalized systems of thought and changing how we embody the beliefs and norms that we're seeking to cultivate in the world.
From reaction to collaboration
A framework that has been invaluable for my journey in shifting consciousness is the Dreaded Drama Triangle to Empowerment Triangle.
Let me introduce them to you and explain how they can help guide your journey as an effective collaborator in healing racism.
When I started my journey towards being an effective Ally (I definitely didn't start there--nobody does), I was viewing my role as a rescuer, a point on the Drama Triangle. As soon as you are showing up as one point on the triangle, you begin to flip flop between all 3, and get stuck as both a victim and a persecutor.
If, as a white person, you are approaching this work as a savior for BIPOC (Rescuer), then you are undermining their humanity and agency as a human being (Persecutor) and are often trying to give advice and control others. When those efforts aren't received or acted on in the way you might want, you can become reactive (Victim).
When we spend time here, we're ineffective and disempowered. And we're disempowering others. We want to power each other up!
That's where The Empowerment Dynamic comes in...
Victim becomes Creator, Rescuer to Coach, and Persecutor to Challenger.
At the center of this triangle is a 4th archetype that they all are leading towards: Collaborator, who asks "how will WE do it?", focuses on cultivating healthy relationships, and takes personal responsibility for shared success.
The whole point of becoming an effective Ally is to collaborate with others to complete actions that you could never do alone!
If, at any moment, you recognize that you are fixed Victim/ Persecutor/ Rescuer you can use that greet that energy as you would an old friend and acknowledge that they are protecting you from unprocessed painful feelings.
Once we realize that we're not living to our full potential and stuck in an old ineffective pattern, we are in a crossroads. Do we continue to follow the familiar dysfunction or create new pathways of health and healing?
This question is why we are is here to help you get the resources, tools, and companionship that you need to be a part of the healing.
So, which pathway will you take? The choice is yours!
5 Tips for Being an Ally (Video by Chescaleigh)
Tasks of the Privileged (Video by Ken Hardy)
Why did Europeans enslave Africans? (Video by Origins of Everything)