Updated: Jun 5, 2020
As I write this, more than 75 cities across the nation are smoldering after a night of protests that sometimes turned violent, a response to structural violence. To many of us, it has been clear for some time that our political, economic, religious, and even our scientific/health systems are broken and corrupt, perhaps beyond repair. And not only in the United States, but around the world.
Many are clamoring for a revolution. I call instead for an evolution.
We have had revolutions in the past, and they have never been successful at creating systems that function equitably, as our current situation demonstrates. In a country founded on genocide and land theft, an economy that continues to depend on enslavement and exploitation, religious institutions that repulse people away from God instead of bringing them closer, scientific research that is centered on white bodies, funded by taxes, and enriching corporations, and politicians who represent all of those special interests, it is about time we considered different options.
Evolving is what will open up paths for new ways of living. The only place to start is from within. We must be willing to look inside the mirror, before we look outside the window, to see what's going on. If we want to have a chance at creating something new, sometimes the old has to be first disposed of, clearing the ground for a new creation. In order to evolve and to heal through the journey, it is important to understand what is our role to play in dismantling systems of oppression.
These options are not all-inclusive, they are place to start. They demonstrate that there is more than one way to achieve a goal, and that everyone’s unique gifts and talents are helpful and needed in a time that is demanding the best of ourselves. Only you can determine what is your role to play. If anyone else get to decide for you, then the first step is to liberate yourself from whatever is currently dominating your life to the point that you feel you are left without options. Because it is a lie that you don't have options:
You ALWAYS have a choice.
These are some of the roles you can consider for yourself. In these roles, there is one guidance that always applicable, if you want to dismantle systems of oppression internally and externally: FOLLOW THE LEAD OF BLACK WOMEN.
1. Front Line Protestor: Engaging and releasing the rage caused by systemic and structural violence. This role is necessary to allow steam to escape from the pot so that it does not explode. Protestors put their lives on the front lines of conflict for their people. They take the risk so that all the other roles can play their part. They demonstrate the courage and the desperation of the oppressed. They play the important role of giving voice to the unheard masses attracting global attention to our plight. They are necessary and deserve our support.
2. Funder & Financial Protestor: Front Line Protestors will need financial support for bail, medical expenses, funerals, and more. Community led organizations will also need financial support to avoid reliance of government systems that are currently under strain and failing. The Movement for Black Lives, which includes Black Lives Matter is the most significant way to invest your money today. Divesting funds and withdrawing support from oppressive institutions and corporations can be a very effective way of creating change, as we saw with the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movements that allowed for the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime. Funders can also support the work of healers/artists and bridge-builders.
3. Healers/Artists: Supporting the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of protestors and bridge-builders. Very often healers are seasoned and retired front-line protestors who understand the strain caused by having to stand-up for your rights and the rights of your people on a regular basis. They are visionaries illuminated by the power of love and provide the spiritual accompaniment that will be needed for all of society to rebuild from a place of healing, rather than a place of embitterment and division. Artists create the beauty and joy that every human being has an innate right to and play a key role in healing communities. Music and Art are indispensable parts of our liberation movement.
4. Bridge-Builders: Those with access to influence and adjacent to privilege have the opportunity to build bridges within and between communities in order to find common ground and generate unity around a new vision for the world. They are visionaries who demonstrate the art and science of bringing people together across difference with the end goal of building a new world. They are experts in the art of non-violent communication and facilitating brave spaces for difficult conversations.
5. Amplifiers: Those who can help disseminate information and communication about what is needed, combat misinformation, and are willing to take the lead from the most impacted. They are respected in their fields and can help influence by sharing effective communication tailored to their audience.
6. Change Begins with Me: Not everyone will make the choice to be actively engaged in bringing about change, for a slew of reasons. Still, everyone can benefit from self-exploration and begin to dismantle systems of domination from within. Internalized white body supremacy does not only rest within white bodies. The false and corrosive messages in our society of Black inferiority run deep, and we have all internalized them to a certain extent. Eradicating anti-blackness requires informing ourselves about the true story of racial terror in this country. In a society where violence is so prevalent we are numb to it, we must transform the violence from within and becoming experts at non-violent communication so that we can all stop inflicting additional individual harm upon Black communities. This role is for everyone, including those who can’t afford risk but can see and value the power of creating change from within. Even if you won’t help us get free, at least you won’t play part in our oppression.
7. Neutral: Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” I invite you to closely consider one of the other options.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Please consider carefully what is your role in this (r)evolution, and equip yourself for what may be a very long journey. You will almost certainly will need to seek the support from healers along the way. Open yourself up to the possibilities of healing from outside white dominant culture. Systems of domination are designed to separate us from our humanity and from each other. By reclaiming and accessing the ancestral wisdom of previously silenced voices you will find your way.
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