This is Body Work.
This is Heart Work.
This is Courage Work.
Dear White Progressive Friends,
I find myself triggered these days confronted by ‘progressive’ white friends who want to converse/debate intellectually the topic of race, most recently how identity politics is interfering with white bodied folks working in solidarity with black and brown bodied folks; how class, not race should be the porthole in which anti-racism and anti-oppression must be seen and analyzed and debated and theorized and and and damn… feeling myself triggered. Belly swaying and cheeks reddening. Feels to me like another form of white fragility, another way for us white folks to stay in our comfort zone. I am learning over and over (thank you Resmaa Menakem) that this is not an intellectual endeavour this is an endeavour of the body and the heart. This is an endeavour of ‘mesearch’ as opposed to research (Menakem!)
Dear white progressive friends who have not begun their mesearch, it is time! It is time to get uncomfortable. It is time to tend to the messiness of interrogating whiteness INSIDE and out. We’ve not had to do this painful internal work personally/collectively because for over 500 years, the white body has been and is the supreme standard by which all bodies, all humanity has been measured, structurally and philosophically. This structural worth/worthiness has been sewn into every institution in the world. The white body is the example and measure of humanness in which all else a deviation. Because we white folks have been standarized we don’t see it, race is not a central component in how we move through the world.
This is body work. This is heart work. This is courage work. This is trauma work .This is the work of building/cultivating new culture, an anti-racist culture, one that is NOT predicated on intellectualism and individualism but on radical embodied self-awareness, a collective re imagining/building new culture, finding community to hold us in this painful work of dismantling racism from the inside out. In Resmaa’s words, let us not let our white comfort trump black and brown pain; trump black and brown body liberation! If you have not read My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies I suggest you do. We need to move beyond old ego-based ways of relating to one another ie Intellectualized debates/conversations and find a pathway back to hearts and bodies, find a pathway back to each other.
Dear white bodied family, we have work to do! Work to do on ourselves and in community with other white bodied folks; work to do in building our capacity to hold discomfort, our own and those we’ve blown our unexamined unworked trauma through. We need to do this work together so that our work out in the world is not white saviourism, or performative or or or …. but true accompaniment, solidarity work.
This reflection was deeply informed by the works Resmaa Menakem.
A deep bow of gratitude!