Updated: Apr 24, 2020
Here Is the Truth
Knowing ourselves, digging up our roots, is the first step in building strong diverse, inclusive and equitable communities of practice. Diversity, equity and inclusion policies and practices only work when all parties fully invest, trust the process and do their inner work first. We cannot expect our community to fully value it's diversity, solve inequities and truly be inclusive if we are not willing to look at our own strengths, weaknesses and the roots of bias and privilege which we all have.
What does it mean to "do my inner work?" Where and how do I start?
What bias' and privileges do we have? How did we learn them? How do we unlearn them?
I love questions - Let's do some Root Work!
Emergency Equity! or Authentic Action?
I love when a major event affects everyone, especially folks in the dominant culture, at the same time. Remember the snowmageddon storm last year? When the majority, meaning dominant culture centered under the magnifying glass, are affected by major events in the same way that folks on the margins or subcultures of society are affected, the magnifying glass gets lifted high enough for all of us to be seen at the same time and in the same light. It is in those times, that the margins of society become visible, granting them quicker access to vital resources, empathy and basic human rights that the dominant culture takes for granted. When we do this, it’s called Emergency Equity. We throw obvious yet temporary solutions that only scratch the surface of the deeply rooted issues which often cause more pain and trauma. Can you see the lipstick on the pig?
It is hard to ignore the glaring privileges and inequities that are exposed during those major events and I love to see it in the light! Not that I love the inconvenience, discomfort or devastation that the event can bring, but I love to see the awakening. In that awareness, is an attempt for everyone to be seen, acknowledged and cared for, as well as the many deep injustices and corrections that can be made quickly to provide the long awaited equity that has been neglected for so long. Again, the magnifying glass over the majority has finally been lifted high enough for humanity in the margins to be revealed, allowing us to recognize, reconcile, reset our society and begin restorative practices and healing.
If you would like a peek from the margin about a simple privilege, stay with me and keep diggin' (I mean) reading . . .
During our family QQT (Quality Quarantine Time) my son, tired of being in the house, saw a sun break and headed out for a run to explore some of the trails around our home in Marysville. In his excitement to get out of the house, he left wearing his workout clothes, headphones and a black hoodie. He was no further than the end of our driveway when I called his name. Without hesitation, or a word, he turned on his heels to return to the house. We both caught our breath followed by a synchronized eye roll as he went upstairs to change. My son's privilege, that lasted for a split second, was to think that he could enjoy access to the resources of the outdoors without fear of being denied his human rights or losing his life that day. Many Black men (and Women) cannot afford that privilege.
When he came downstairs he quoted our rehearsed phrase, "We always have to consider what others do not, in order to avoid being harassed, mistaken, profiled and shot" meaning being accused of trespassing and being tracked or attacked in his own neighborhood with the possibility of losing his life that day, was not worth the risk of wearing a perfectly appropriate and stylish jacket with a hood. And as a mother who raised three beautiful Black souls in the United States, I have had to teach and review that lesson with them as soon as they could walk and talk until . . . wait - My mother, who just turned 88, is reviewing the lesson with me as I read the article to her, that I am writing - right now!
Imagine, if daily fear, anxiety and uncertainty from dealing with COVID-19 is how you must live from now on? Can you conceive of how folks of Color who have been living like that since they were old enough to walk, feel about their safety and security in the world? How valued would you feel if the images that you saw of yourself were always negative and glorified violence against you while glorifying you for talent and entertainment? How confident would you be walking through life with fear of an unforeseen attack around every corner while the world pulls away from you in fear.
Now, I know you are never going to be able to fully understand (innerstand), or feel, that level of racial oppression, but now because of our major event COVID-19, the dominant culture, even White males, now have a reference point for an experience of oppression on a higher level. Bill Gates said "it is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression." The experience of losing privileges and rights to their humanity close to that of People of Color, especially Black people, feel every day, has highlighted the blatant inequities and gaps in our society.
The Pandemic has provided a sense of fear and anger from being denied rights and resources, access and opportunities, along with paranoia for safety and security for the folks in the majority to experience on a deeper level or for the first time ever on a daily basis.
Unheard of! Had enough yet? Are you exhausted?
One more thought about the backwards, upside-down and inside out existence that has been the norm for Black folks who have been practicing live-saving social distancing for centuries. Race and racism is in everything. Now that you've had a little taste, what will it take for us ALL to spit it out? When will we ever get an opportunity such as this to recognize, reconcile and reset our society and begin restorative practices and healing? This is why I feel the pandemic is happening FOR us, not TO us.
Now, for those of you who know my son personally, know that he is quick to smile and slow to anger. In fact, he is so non aggressive that his football coaches asked him to stop lifting opponents off their feet and setting them down and to just tackle players like everybody else; and if you must help them up afterwards, please stop smiling and chatting with them – it's FOOTBALL! - LOL
You also know that he is a balance of sharp and silly, dimples and muscles, talented, thoughtful and topped off with kindness. He is a teacher, coach, mentor, advocate and a leader with a huge heart for everyone. He only has friends and if you don't have a friend, he will see to it that you have one in him. Yet, on any given day, because of our programmed bias and learned racism, many folks would not hesitate to threaten or even pull a gun on him for walking too close to their house. And, if he were running, the whole neighborhood would be calling upon law enforcement, who would not hesitate to shoot him because of bias and racial profiling which has allowed police justification to kill him because of their "perceived and perpetuated fear" of Black males and females. Running while Black and BLM Founders interview.
My sons and daughter, along with every other Black mother and mothers of Color sons and daughters are constantly covering and questioning; How am I being perceived? How do I make people not fear me or accuse me? Can't wear this or that color. Am I smiling enough or too much? Will I be pulled over for driving through this neighborhood? Can I be left alone here or what will I have to deal with today? Can you fathom the exhaustive endless questions that can occupy all the time and space in one's mind? Even though we all have to deal with different forms of exhausting oppression in some form or another; Capitalism/Classism, Sexism/Patriarchy, White Supremacy/Racism, Gender Binary/Transphobia, Homophobia, Ageism, and Disenfranchisement, the weight of any of these can be excruciating to carry around for even one day.
So, are you asking yourself, how does he (they/we) deal with all that anxiety, fear and oppression?
Well, how are you dealing with fear and uncertainty right now during the pandemic? Are you dealing with racial or social bullying on top of it as our Asian community is? How about economic oppression and being unemployed or trying to perform in school? Are you living in an abusive environment? Do you feel safe on the streets and in the stores? Can you rest or escape from your anxiety, fear or oppression? Are you aware or worried for those who cannot escape or rest from the pandemic and unknown circumstances or why they cannot? Do you have a support circle that you can share how you are feeling? Voice concerns, questions and share about the ways you are coping? The Root of Us would like to be in your support circle.
The bigger question to ask yourself is, how long has this been going on without your awareness and how long are you going to let it continue now that you are aware? Meaning, will the truth you've discovered be applied and acted upon with authenticity, confidence and courage or is emergency equity enough?
Think about who does not experience those simple privileges on a daily basis. Who do we not consider to be "human enough" to deserve basic human rights every minute of every day. Who decides this? How and when was this decided upon? How does society encourage or enforce these subhuman "rules"?
You do recognize that it is a privilege to choose not to see, think or do anything different about it? Not having to think about being included, not having to worry about repeated access to resources, never having to question if your rights are going to be denied or your dignity threatened on a daily basis is the privilege of being part of the dominant culture. It is not your fault, just as it is not a fault to be part of the subcultures.
We belong together and we belong to each other. We are ours. Our diversity is our strength and our healing. So again, this is why I believe when we unlearn the lies we were told and taught about ourselves and each other and learn the history of what really happened, our roots. This is the only way to the truth.
This is the only way to the root of us.
Wishing you all Enlightenment in knowledge, Empowerment in truth, and always, Friendship in Love.
~ Fernell ~
When we unlearn the lies we were told or taught about ourselves and each other, the truth we discover can be applied and acted upon with authenticity, confidence and courage.
That's why we start with the root of us.
I know . . . that was a lot! Thanks for hanging in there with me!
My hands could not keep up with the flood of feelings bursting through my fingertips.
I'm always surprised at the depth of my roots when allowed to dig without interruption and bring to the surface what has been buried so deep for so long. How empowering it is to release the stories locked inside you. We want to create a place and space for everyone to dig like that – at the Root of Us!
If you need a little more, we would love to join your circle of support or start one with you.
Here is a way we can begin the conversation.
First, visit our website and at the bottom of the home page
subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you can continue digging.
Next, Click this link to receive your Root Work Response Form and share your thoughts with me.