Dear Fellow White Folks: Stay

Dear fellow white folks,
Here we are. 
Let’s stay. 
Present to our bodies, hearts, minds
after hearing the news of a mass grave holding 215 murdered indigenous children;
Did our hearts speed up? Our heads spin out? Our jaws tighten? 
Did we take a long exasperated breath and go back to our day as usual? 
Did we shake our heads in disbelief? 
Did we swallow a missing beat in the back of our throats? 
Are we
Not surprised? Surprised?
Annoyed that our mornings, afternoons, evenings uncomfortably punctuated by this news? 
Do we scroll fast past the horrendous social media posts? 
Do we puff up our chests and whisper to ourselves, 
What does this have to do with me when it was such a long time ago; when every single cell of our bodies know  
This is now. Now. Now. Now.
Dear fellow white folks,
Do we have the courage to pause and feel?
Can we feel shame creep into our cheeks, our bellies?
Can we change the whisper to,
welcome inevitable shame. 
I feel you.   
I will not let you
I will stay  
and feel the quake of my limbs,
the dryness of my mouth,
the sway of my belly,
the stuck of my swallow,
the knock, knock, knock of my head.
I will not go back to sleep.
I will not go back to sleep.
I will do what it takes
Stay. Stay. Stay.
I will find practices  
to hold me, calm me;  
I will find pathways and resources to teach my/our children and youth the true history of Canada.
I will initiate uncomfortable conversations 
with other white folks like:  
What if a mass grave was found in the back of your elementary school? 
215 children discovered?  
How would you react and act? 
How would government react and act? 
How would the world react and act?
What if our babies or our Elders’ babies, our ancestor’s babies were stolen from our homes, 
our arms, our communities, put into schools and stripped of their humanity, 
abused, murdered, disappeared?
What would our stories be today 
if we were the colonized, 
Dear fellow white folks    
We cannot go unscathed. 
This is our trauma too. 
Vastly different, yes, but our collective trauma still. 
Violent systems and structures  
robbing us our ability 
to notice, see, feel 
the truth of violent pasts and presents 
robbing us our capacity to see and feel ourselves in others;  
robbing us of our own ancestral cultural practices 
song, ritual, story  
traded in for 
white culture seeped in 
individualism, consumerism, extraction,
buried emotions, inability to grieve, 
to show up, stand up, stay up, 
and demand change!  
Dear fellow white folks, 
can we put in the work  
it will take  to unlearn generations 
of whiteness acculturated?
Can we commit to finding pathways forward
dependent on courage, vulnerability, intention and will?
Can we stay here. 
So we can show up, stand up, stay up, 
and demand change!  

By Maureen St. Clair

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