embodying privilege + risk: the stakes is high

Some folks may not quite understand why the stakes are so high for me and those I love.

I am aware of my privileges:

I am educated. I attended a private boarding school and a private university where I earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree.
I am a U.S-born person whose 1st language is English.
I am a cis-gendered heterosexual.
I am married.
I do not live with a disability.

I also embody a space where the targeted and marginalized aspects of my identity make me vulnerable to practices, policies, and dominant cultural beliefs that have denied or would attempt to block my humanity as well as my civil rights:

I am a Black Woman.

I am the daughter of an immigrant.
My father is from Trinidad. His family has roots throughout the Caribbean.

The great-granddaughter of immigrants.
My maternal great-grandparents were Canadian.

The great-great granddaughter of an immigrant.
My maternal great-great grandmother was a German Jew who married a former slave and Civil War veteran.* 

I am the mother of a bi-racial, multi-ethnic child.
I am the wife of a man who has a disability.
We live on a fixed income.

I am a Buddhist.
I am committed to the path of compassion and liberation for myself and others.
I come from generations of women who have held positions of service in the social work, education, and public health fields.
It’s in my DNA to give a damn.

I know and love people who are targeted and vulnerable.
I know and love people who know and love people who are targeted and vulnerable:

Immigrants, non-native English speakers, lesbian, gay, same-gender loving, transgender, gender non-conforming, elderly, poor, uneducated, disabled, Muslim, Jewish, of other non-JudeoChristian faiths, atheist, agnostic and more…

I have every reason to be mad and every reason to wish to protect myself and those I love from harm!  I am committed to social justice, equity, and reconciliation. It takes emboldened truth-telling. Even as I uphold the criteria for skillful communication, I will not be silent or soft to make anyone feel more comfortable.

*For the curious or surprised, I offer two insights:
The family history I compiled and the regional ancestry results of my genographic test, which my reflect a genetic composition that is 65% Sub-Saharan African, 13% Mediterranean, 12% North European, 5% South African, 5% Southwest Asian.

I share these results not to diminish my Blackness but to illustrate interdependence and just how bound to one another we are.

A Few Places To Start:

10 Tips for Christians Supporting Trump

Allies For Change Glossary

Matrix of Oppression

Teaching Tolerance

White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack

HEAR HERE [for deep listening]: Opening The Question of Race to the Question of Belonging | On Being with Krista Tippett

And I think being human is about being in the right kind of relationships. I think being human is a process. It’s not something that we just are born with. We actually learn to celebrate our connection, learn to celebrate our love. And the thing about it — if you suffer, it does not imply love. But if you love, it does imply suffering. So part of the thing that I think what being human means to love and to suffer, to suffer with, though, compassion, not to suffer against. So to have a space big enough to suffer with. And if we can hold that space big enough, we also have joy and fun even as we suffer. And suffering will no longer divide us. And to me, that’s sort of the human journey.
~ john a. powell

I was invited to facilitate a dharma discussion for my root sangha to address the wellspring of emotions and concerns members have expressed following the tragedy in Charleston last week. Drawing on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, I entitled the talk “Good Spiritual Friends: Taking Care of Ourselves & One Another in the Face of Racism, Bias, & Injustice” and asked that we actively investigate our own perceptions, intentions and behaviors as we reflect on how to apply and cultivate the dharma in response to such devastation. We expressed our confusion, anger, shame, fear, helplessness, outrage. We cried. We breathed. We sat with our discomfort. 

I asked that we continue to find refuge in practices that help to nourish and ground us as well as those that illuminate unskilfulness, awaken clear comprehension, and inspire compassionate actions.

That sweet space of refuge is fleeting: Our hearts burst open with the victory of the Marriage Equality Act last Friday. Then they are crushed once more with every church that goes up in flames at the hands of racist terrorists. 

For sanity and nourishment, I am mindful about what I consume–attempting to combat this madness by sharing this dose of sustenance (clear, compassionate understanding) for the mind and soul.

Hear Here: john a powell ~ Opening the Question of Race to the Question of Belonging

artist: sarah green

[Project 60/50] Toward Wholeness: Race, Faith + Gender Matters in Mental Health

Project 60-50.Toward Wholeness