Inspiring conversation on racism

A recent post on Buddhist Peace Fellowship’s Turning Wheel media has inspired really interesting conversation about racism, white privilege, and what we all can do to further the cause of peace and justice is this beleaguered country.

Posted by Katie Loncke, the essay on “Direct Action Gets the Goods” addresses the controversy over the disruption of a speech by Bernie Sanders at a Social Security/Medicare rally.

The article and most of the comments are excellent and all worth reading, as they show something of the pervasive nature of racism in our society. A comment by Eko Joshua Goldberg contains this gem:

To me, the real power of this action and the earlier disruption at Netroots Nation was not that it made Bernie Sanders’ campaign get real and improve its position on white supremacy, racism, and anti-black violence (although that does seem to have happened). It was the exposure of the reality of the present moment, both in showing the deep love, strength, and courage of black movements and black women to speak truth to power in the face of tremendous violence and repression; and also nakedly exposing white supremacy and racism among many white “progressives”

Eko is answering some who seemed to take umbrage at the disruption. Yes, even in this context, the progressive members of a socially engaged Buddhist organization, there is division and misunderstanding of the nature of white privilege.

Eko also provides this very revealing list of things that we all could do to be part of the solution:

For my part I vow to:
* work diligently to stop forgetting the reality of white supremacy, i.e., to see more clearly
* be honest about my white privilege and use it to help build anti-racist movements
* challenge systemic racism, colonialism, and white supremacy
* challenge interpersonal violence, hatred, and bigotry rooted in racist, colonial, and white supremacist thinking
* talk with other white people about how white supremacy, white privilege, racism, and colonialism plays out in our lives and in our communities, talk about what we can do to change that, and then follow through with action
* celebrate, appreciate, and promote the survival and liberation work being done by Indigenous people and people of colour, and provide solidarity/support in ways that are requested
* listen when I get called out for my deluded thinking and mistaken behaviours, and learn from my mistakes
* invite advice, critique, and comment

I’m thinking of adding his list to my morning vows.

P.S.: Another deeply moving comment from one of the participants, Dr. Amie Harper:

So, just let me know when it’s ‘okay’ to ‘disrupt’ the system of racism and anti-black violence that could kill me, my dad, my mom, and my beautiful lovely 1, 4, and 6 year old children. Let me know when you ‘approve’ of how I do it. Let me just sit here and wait for the ‘okay’ and cross my fingers that my brother will be okay. That my 6 year old son, while playing at the playground, won’t become the next Tamir Rice. Perhaps as I move to the next new job I get, hundreds of miles away, I won’t become the next Sandra Bland. Let me just sit here patiently and wait for those who are ‘irritated’ to let me know the CORRECT way for me to make sure we don’t inconvenience you with our lack of ‘civility’ in doing through the ‘proper measures.’ Let’s spend more time debating that than you actually doing something more. And please, let’s save the, “Breeze, you just don’t understand. For change to happen, the best way for [Black women] to be taken seriously is to go through ‘proper’ procedure, like voting or engaging with the political system another way, or getting ‘real’ jobs (because activism isn’t a ‘real job’ for some.”

Dr. Harper was inspired by the discussion to post the article from which this quote is taken on her blog.

7 thoughts on “Inspiring conversation on racism

  1. Thanks for reposting. I wanted to say I updated the typo to ‘taken seriously’. I missed the ‘taken’. Thanks for engaging.

    • John Eden says:

      I’ll add the correction – I read right by it, so most wouldn’t notice. But I understand! Thanks so much for your contributions to the discussion!

    • John Eden says:

      Also, that next-to-last paragraph gets me again each time I read it – tears and shuddering… good concrete details like children hit us where we live. People need to hear what you are saying. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, and once again, more typos! This is what happens when I try to type, sleep deprived (hey, I’ve got 3 kids including a baby, so what do I expect!?) while nursing. tons of mistakes. Sorry.

    on a different note, I am still commenting on BPF with the poster ann dash and trying to explain myself but I guess I am failing because they interpret what I write as meaning something else. So, I just posted another comment apologizing (because I guess it’s ‘civilized’ to always apologize to the white people I ‘upset’ with my Black feminist framing… I’m being sarcastic) and explaining what I was TRYING to articulate.

    Thanks John,

    • John Eden says:

      Yes, I saw. I’m surprised to see that on the BPF site, it shows how much remains to be done. I was raised on Angela Davis and Malcolm, so your words resonate strongly with me. Some people just don’t understand what ‘justice’ means.
      …I was wondering last night if you’d ever read Marimba Ani, a student of Henrik Clark. Her book _Yurugu_ opened my eyes to whole new understandings, but I don’t think it’s widely read.

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