What can we do? How do we think or breathe through this is a way that is helpful? How do we take action, create internal peace and the expansion and rooting of love and justice in the material walking world?
These are important questions, essential questions even. I don’t have The Answer. I do have some options, starting points.
Healing is most often initiated by pain. So the first prayer is that this deep pain, this abhorrent and transparent act reveals a deep wound, a wound that has be belittled and disregarded, and like all real wounds that are disregarded it’s only a matter of time till this the wound festers enough to get the needed and withheld attention. Racism is not the only wound, it is a critical wound, a stronghold in our culture as part of a complex and as I understand constructed and perpetuated system of externals and internalized oppression. A quick definition of “internalized oppression” is when an external oppressor succeeds at putting their ideas and system of control into the heads of the people so that without action the system perpetuates itself. What we have here at this time in the US is both overt (police brutality) and inverted oppression, (private hate groups and hate crimes, aka mass murder based in racism, as well as gang on gang violence).
This is an internal poison, which is insidious, and cannot be eradicated without re-education because people are taught to hate without cause. I truly believe it is not our nature (sure – roles, or that hierarchy exists in nature, as in mammals that have an alpha like wolves and chimpanzees, could be argued natural – but not blind impersonal hate)- people must be taught to justify and base their actions in “supremacy” and hate. So it is Re-Education, in fact a de-education and then reeducation that is required.
This education is something for which WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE.
There is NO THEM.
I offer you the only medicine I known for injustice.
Knowledge. Love & Gratitude. Action. (Integrated, not sequential)
Below are some of the resources that crossed my life path and influenced my understanding . These resources give me a passionate belief in the healing and transforming of people and culture. In addition they also deeply awakened me to see clearly, admit my basis, open my eyes to injustice, and take action that is is self responsible and courageous. Actions, thoughts, and prayers that help dismantle the internalized and external oppressors.
(this is a list of books and a YouTube video to get you started)
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
The first book that opened my eyes to understand what I was seeing around me. Given to me by my Bestie with her notes in the margins. ‘I know you don’t read much, but Sophia if you only read one book, read this.’ I did. And I am forever grateful.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
Foundational theory of oppression and liberating from the inside out, and the outside in.
A People’s History of United States by Howard Zinn
First account history that changes what you were taught in school, which was all constructed to prove a point, we’re even taught “well, all history has a basis because the winners write it.” In fact, exquisite historians (such as Howard Zinn) know how to share many sides and show a much more accurate story. One that gives more power to people in general, I’ll add. Heartbreaking and enlightening. An essential read.
You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times by Howard Zinn
Personal story of Howard Zinn’s contribution and personal experience as part of the civil rights movement. Beautiful, educational, inspiring and moving narrative. A good place to start if you’re new too all this, or need a reminder of hope.
Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity by Dan Berger
This book changed my life. It’s the story of how peaceful educated well intentioned students become radicalized, and how the civil rights movement was in the process of unifying and how the government intentionally used race and other tactics to keep it separate. Incredibly eye opening and interesting read. (Side note: The author is or was a West Philly Local. I used to scream love message to him as he crossed the street like, “Your book changed my life! Thank you!”)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by
Disclaimer: I haven’t read this book. But those who have schooled me hard on what it tells. It has formed a cornerstone of my current understanding of race relations in the US.
Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks
A book about teaching and how we evolve out of oppression. (I love bell hooks. Read anything and everything by her.)
“You can help stop the violence against young black men” TedX Talk by Verna Myers
I’ve shared this before, worth a second recommendation. Fits under Knowledge and Action.
Love & Gratitude
Limitless options here.
This is one: Prayer.
Two different Prayers For Justice And Peace, Prayers for Charleston, SC:
Becoming Peace, Becoming Justice
For Mother Emanuel
My love and prayers to Mother Emanuel’s congregation, families, to the Souls who were murdered.
I know the love and light of the beloved Jesus is with them. Let light perpetual shine upon them. I read the church was packed this morning, and for that I am grateful and add my voice and prayers to their calls on faith, justice, and healing. Bless them, hold them, protect them. Add my love to the multitudes that wrap them. Amen.
Action includes prayer, petitions, donations, civil court cases, healing circles, policy changes, ritual ect. in my book. When they all get done, miracles happen, and we are living integrated and holistic lives.
~ To make a donation to Mother Emanuel AME Church directly you can do that by selecting the “Donate” button on their homepage http://www.emanuelamechurch.org/
~ If you would like to help the families of the shooting victims, the City of Charleston has set up the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to help the families pay for funerals for their loved ones, counseling services, and other needs as they continue to heal from the tragedy. http://www.
~ Watch the TedX Talk above, and do what she suggests.
~ What action do you Know you need or want to take? Do it.