Writing isn’t action, unless it’s published. I live in a safe, mostly white community in Boise, Idaho. I enjoy a privileged life that is not without its own set of challenges, but I’m still a white, cis female. I identify as how I was born. I feel at home in the body I came in this time around.
When Donald John Trump was elected President in November 2016 and took office in January 2017 I knew the media would become a series of painful stories, images and hateful othering. And it has. I admit I often ignore the news, or when I read a story about a horrific murder or hateful demonstration I feel shame and guilt for my inability to do something. I took yet another personality assessment and it told me that I often times dwell excessively in how I can help marginalized people to the detriment of my own happiness. So, I stop reading the news and I stop worrying about what I can do. I like posts on Facebook and Instagram of others speaking out, and I move through my life as a woman entrepreneur with desires of empowering those who identify as women to live whole and healthy lives.
Then something massive happens. A mass shooting in a community I identify with. A ban on humans in the country I live in. Destruction of sacred lands for oil. Genetically modified poison masquerading as food. A white supremacist rally in the country I live in. Our government may be fucking up around the globe, but we’re recreating a civil war in our own country. I need to talk about what side I’m on. I need to talk about it. It’s ethnocentricity at its worst. I also want to dig a hole and stay safe and private in my introvert’s paradise.
I am a Yoga teacher, a woman entrepreneur, a holistic lifestyle coach, a spiritual mentor. All that means is I’ve had things happen in my life and I’ve found empowerment and healing through nature and Yoga, and I want to share that with others who are also seeking. And I live in Boise, Idaho where the majority of the population is white. Very, very white, which isn’t to say that there are not black people or people of color in my community, but very few. I remember in elementary school in Eagle, Idaho which is about 10 miles outside of Boise, there was one black kid. He was my 4th grade boyfriend. I read an article the other day that asked white, spiritual women to talk about racism and white supremacy. I’m attempting to talk about it, and I prefer listening. I stand against white supremacy in all forms, and I am fumbling with my own words.
Yoga is self awareness. Awareness of the Self. Ability to remain present, witnessing the experience, embracing the experience of the moment and then watching it pass away. Impermanence. I believe the role of teacher is to hold space for the experience of each student. I often set my own intention before a practice, class or session to hold the space for students to simply be, to be free enough in their experience to listen. We live in a world filled with doing, the next thing, the next accomplishment… So, be. Be aware. Be present in the experience. Tap in to the juice of the experience, the sensuality of the experience – what do I taste, smell, hear, feel, see in this experience? Witness the experience without judgment, but with loving compassion. Know it is impermanent. This is the greatest gift I have received in my life, so yeah, I want to try and share it with others.
So what about when the experience is painful? How does one stay present during injustice? I don’t know the answer, that’s why I’m asking. Where do we find conscious activism? How do I talk about racism in a one hour Vinyasa yoga class? I don’t know. Can I still find a way to be and take action? Can I hold space for others to do the same? I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how to take action from a small town of mostly white people, and I know that imperfect action must be taken. I sit with it. I hold it in my heart. I ask the Divine for intervention and direction. I offer space for others to sit with their experience and feelings, to hold it in their hearts. I’m talking about it. Let’s talk about it. I don’t know what it feels like to be black or to be a person of color. I don’t know what it feels like to be judged or sneered at for being who I am. I am not here to try and sympathize because I can’t. Empathy. Action. Communication. Love.
There’s no let’s all just get along message that works, but I did love what Obama posted after the white supremacists hate-demonstration.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” –Nelson Mandela