On being better

I wrote a couple days ago about how spirituality and privilege makes us all trash, and that my hopes are that we will try to become recyclable. If you read my post from before, and are triggered, offended, or otherwise upset by what I wrote but you are back today reading this, I am glad! Thanks for sticking around. I want to start off by saying that I don’t think that I am free of any of the behavior that I wrote about before. I have black friends and brown friends that I still accidentally micro-aggress , put emotional toll on them to explain things to me, and often whitesplain terms and concepts I have no business explaining to them.  And for all my aggressive writing in the name of community and life, I haven’t organized any kind of gathering to address these issues, haven’t done nearly enough protesting, am super hypocritical with my views in that I eat animal products, don’t compost, and sometimes fall victim to confirmation bias.

The point here is not to harshly judge myself or get upset and mad at myself for not doing enough (though try telling that to my anxiety and depression who love a good reason to go into self-loathing.) Rather, it is to understand that there is always somewhere where we can be practicing more compassion, and should not shut down when these concepts are brought to our attention.

A lot of people do exactly that when certain terms are brought up to them, and then close off to critical thinking. It is the lack of critical thinking that is personally upsetting to me, and why the tone of my writing is so often militant. Because I find myself pushing back against people that might deem me as erratic, emotional, sensitive, angry, or militant then will get upset themselves (so who’s sensitive now?) as a way to avoid having to do critical thinking. People want to believe that they are good enough, and anything that pushes against that is scary. I get it. Like I said earlier, my depression and anxiety will take any excuse to hate on myself and run with it, and boy have I carried a good amount of white guilt in my life. My point is not to make you uncomfortable just to be right, but to help you expand your emotional intelligence so that we can all thrive.

I also have been guilty of believing, like many a spiritual fellow will tell you, that the more we pay attention to this social divide, the more that we give energy to the idea of duality and separation. It is in pushing back against this idea that I realized ignorance is bliss, and while you might feel like you are not giving energy to the separation, you are in fact contributing to a bigger gap of division. Allow me to use the very relevant example of a virus. If a person believes they have no symptoms, and continues to go out, they continue to infect other people. In this same way, if we see ourselves as the “good white person”, then we continue to work for and with the system of white patriarchy that is causing harm because we are not seeing the harm that we are causing. We do not see our mere existence as contagious of white supremacy, sexism, and ableism. Indeed, it is not enough to not be racist, one must be anti-racist. It is not enough to call one’s self an ally but rather do the work. (And don’t tell people about it for cookies.)

If we are too busy defending our stance, pushing back against terms that offend us, try to prove how we are a good enough white person or how “not all men” are the same, then we are actively keeping up with racist and sexist forms of thinking, and therefore contributing to this harmful duality.

My spiritual practice is community, and my purpose in life is Life itself. I want all bodies regardless of race, gender identity, ability, or class to have the same opportunities to a thriving life. I want redistribution of wealth, homes for everyone, a system that does not deplete our natural resources, and for us to re-examine our relationships to plants, animals, and the Earth in a way that allows for everyone to flourish. I believe that this seems like a Utopia because people are comfortable in the system, do not have answers on how this is possible, and are scared to dream bigger. I myself try to lovingly challenge myself, my views, my perspective and everything around it so that it better supports my community. It isn’t about me. I would give up my body and life for this cause. It is my profound love for my community, the people on the planet, and life itself, that I write all of these blogs. I don’t know how to make people care, so I keep writing in the hopes that you will keep reading and perhaps learn something that might push you into critical thinking and open you up so that you can better use your resources for others.

Here are ways you can help:

  1. Find out whose land you’re on: The land belongs to those who have cared for it. Acknowledge that we are settlers in a colonized world, google “whose land am I on” then find out what indigenous group is taking care of the land and water you live on. Visit the website of that indigenous group, if you have money, see how you can support them by looking up fundraisers for that specific tribe. If you’re in a position of power, hire indigenous people.
  2. If you love the arts and have money, go on Patreon and support indigenous, black, latinx, trans, queer creators and sex workers. If you google any of those labels along with “patreon” that will bring you to a plethora of margianlized creators that need patrons. Be a patron of the arts!
  3. If you’re the parent of a baby: Do your part in learning about gender expression, and stop imposing your gender choice on to your child. Learn about the gender stereotypes we keep upholding and how hurtful they are. Stop upholding them.
  4. If you’re a parent in general: Challenge the toxic gender traits that your children may have adopted that you continued to teach them. Look at your beliefs in regards to womanhood and manhood, and challenge them all. Teach your sons to be exceptional instead of mediocre, and have conversations around anti-racism with your children even if they are adults.
  5. If you are white, and get upset with terms such as white fragility, white privilege, white guilt, or anything like that, please realize that this is but a tiny glimpse into what a person of color has to deal with on a daily basis. Once you’re over the initial knee-jerk reaction, I implore you to read an article (or 20) about how we are in fact infected with the white supremacy bug. You can start here. Robin DiAngelo also has a great video that you might want to watch if you want to be a safer more reliable person for people of color to be around, and consider getting the work book Me and White Supremacy workbook by Laylaa Saad, to help you through those uncomfortable conversations with yourself. She also has an excellent podcast called Good Ancestor that raises the voices of many black activists and creators doing amazing work.
  6. If you are a meat-eater, explore ways that fit your budget and health limits that you can start minimizing animal products.
  7. If you have a garden, consider composting. Check out the different links I’m posting here for ways that might work for you, and if none of these work, google “ways to compost” that might work for the type of land access that you have.
  8. If you’re a man: Have conversations with other men where you challenge the stereotypes that you uphold. Look into toxic masculinity and how you have been taught this and continue to uphold it. Call out men that you see being dangerous, and stop supporting creators and artists that have been accused of sexual misconduct. If you have sisters, trust that it has more likely been hard for her to exist than you, believe her, support her, tell her you care. If you have brothers, call out toxic masculinity and how you have might have been favored or had it easier in the family.

There’s so many resources out there by people that are much more intelligent than me and write better. It isn’t about exhausting ourselves but about expanding our compassion so that we can all fit on this planet harmoniously. If I don’t have a lot of black and brown friends then maybe that means I’m not in the right circles, and I need to do better about being a safer person for people of color to feel more comfortable around. If I’m ignorant about ableism, then I need to investigate how I’ve continued to uphold ableist mentality and how I may have been unfair with myself and others in my terminology and thinking. If I think that a few people dying is better for the planet, maybe I need to read up on eco-fascism and how that’s too close to Nazi and school-shooter mentality for anyone in their right mind to be comfortable with.

There’s a lot to learn and it is all so constantly over-whelming, which is why I understand people’s initial reaction to look away or get overwhelmed. We all have enough on our plates with our health, families, and jobs. I get it. This is why I insist on community thinking and why I wish us to battle the concept of capitalism. To see what we can do to help this utopia of a world where we can all help each other out, instead of such individualistic mentality. If we shared, if we had a society where we could more easily sustain each other, grow our own food, feed each other, watch our children, counsel our neighbors and care for our elders, it would be less scary. The more we care for each other, the more we can care for each other.

Thanks for being here, I really appreciate you.

If you like my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, where I am much more loving and less militant, but support an indigenous, black, or brown creator first. I am starting a “do better” tier today, where I will be writing more loving articles on a monthly basis (at least!) on how we can DO BETTER. 🙂

The privilege of not dwelling on the past

I was going to say, that like any average youth, I grew up not really dwelling on the past. But that isn’t really true, is it? As I thought about my own context, and then those around me that has similar contexts, I also thought about those younger than I, still within my generation but that are fiercely dedicated to the improvement of their context. Those are the ones who have normalized the world “decolonization” in my mental vocabulary. Not older educators and philosophers who seemed disconnected and somehow still caught up in the very fabric they were trying to dismantle, but the younger voices, who had grown up in a context that was not my own. In other words, who could not afford to not “dwell on the past.”

So I grew up not thinking about it. About where I came from, who my family beyond my parents might have affected me, and even less caring about my ancestors. But that is because I had the privilege on not needing to know anything. To feel like history is irrelevant.

But what is history, if not stories of who we are, how we got to the problems we’re facing, and how to solve (or not) solve them? How could that ever be irrelevant?

To me, it all just feels like a part of a society that normalizes anything that distances you from your roots, and your community. The less stories we know of our greatness, the more stories we know of failure, and the leadership of others that are unlike us, the easier we are to control. It’s been working, because it was easy, it’s all we wanted to do.

And now? Whatever this is that we’re living in? Is clearly unsustainable. Those of us who think we’re sustaining a life of stability and wealth without any kind of true hardship or suffering, are doing so while others live a shattered life of hardship and suffering without any kind of true stability or wealth. And to me, that doesn’t feel real.

If my safety is an illusion provided by the powers that be due to my skin color and social class (or whatever) then it isn’t real safety. And in order to understand the rules of the game I’m being played in (because 99% of us are very much playing someone else’s games with someone else’s rules) we have to look at history.

I may be on a giant Monopoly board just waiting for the table to be flipped over, but I don’t have to spend every tic-toc waiting for the inevitable explosion and for me to get swiped away. Everything feels so apocalyptic right now. We didn’t need a virus to turn us into zombies, our own greed is toxic enough, our world is dying and there’s some kind of severe humanity issue going on in every continent of the world. (I didn’t look that up but I’m feeling fiercely confident about that statement, so I challenge you to prove me wrong.)  Instead of sitting around and wait to see how many more freedoms and rights we get taken away, how many more loopholes are made to keep us from accessing freedom and pursuing happiness, I have decided to better understand the things that affect me personally based on the identities placed in society. And I don’t want to do that by playing it safe and staying within the confines of who I know with people that think and look like me because that’s never going to help me grow.

I also need to learn more so that I can be useful in fighting for my community and the people I love. I can’t fully respect someone that doesn’t actively try to figure out how to constantly be a better human. I don’t respect lack of compassion for others though I can still be compassionate for those that lack it themselves. But I don’t respect it. I think it’s lazy, boring, and shallow. Unfortunately I am close to a lot of people that lack compassion, and tragically, it’s a huge chunk of good friends of mine that are white Americans. I use the frustration to fuel my desire to want to work harder at being more active with what I provide for others, and I know that I can never point a finger at anyone before pointing it at myself so mostly, I try to just put my mouth where my pride is and walk the walk.

And in learning where to step and what to do, I’ve been navigating the waters by following my activist leaders: Shaun King, Franchesca Ramsey, Luvvie Ayaji, Priscilla Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez founder of Latina RebelsPorochista Khakpour, Nik Hampsire, and Ashley Fairbanks just to name my current favorite few. I follow them all on Facebook along with other people and newsfeed which keep me humbly learning and up to date on what is currently going. In case you didn’t know, currently, EVERYTHING is going on. We’re being bombarded on all sides. And the best way that I have found to connect to proactive anger and efficient self love is by listening to those who live with their history still affecting them every day.

Next week I will be traveling to Spain, and as a Colombian woman, I think it will be a fantastic time to think about history and my past, why it matters and how it actually still affects us all. I know it does on a heart level, but I’d like to be able to further explore it as I wish to have a better understanding of the topics of conversation that come up.

Because not dwelling on the past is a privilege, and privilege is a lie.

Stay tuned and let’s have a conversation about this.

Art by Madspeitersen