Black Lives Matter – I join my voice in solidarity & invite love & deep listening into the conversation. 💕
To all my friends of colour I ask and invite that you keep sharing your stories. Bring your voices to the table so that we can all begin to appreciate and understand your/our trauma and pain. So that we can sit together and begin to SEE one another as the real human beings that we are. I profoundly feel that we do need to hear the personal stories – not only of the harrowing deaths that have ignited this current wave of outcry but also the everyday stories that many of us may be blind to. Bear with us if our ears seem closed – we may need you to tell us again, and again, until we truly listen to what you are telling us.
I am a white woman. I have not walked in your shoes. But I do walk beside you.
I am thankful that my parents were open-minded and encouraged me to see life more directly. Growing up in outback Australia that meant that I witnessed inequalities even when I did not really understand what I was seeing. I witnessed beatings and shaming because of race/colour. But the key word in that last sentence is “witnessed” not that I experienced such events. I have not been harassed or denied service because of the colour of my skin. I do not know what it is like to be look at with suspicion just because of my skin colour without any reference to my actual self. I have not experienced police harassment. I have never felt ‘less than’ just because of the colour of my skin. I have not walked in your shoes.
To my friends of colour: There are times that I have – and may still in the future – be unaware that have I not understood or realised a significant point about white privilege. If I have overstepped or ignored your point in some way please help me understand. I commit and make a promise to continue exploring and uncovering my own unconscious bias. I commit to asking you for information and your felt experience to help me understand what it is like to walk in your shoes. I commit to continuing to educate myself on why Black Lives Matter. I commit to speaking up when I notice an imbalance that I can contribute and help with.
When I was at school Indigenous studies did not convey the truth of our current day Australia (my country of birth) being built upon the back of genocide and slavery. I am thankful for the (shocking) documentaries that are now available that do show the real truth. The year of my birth, 1967, was the year that indigenous Australians were finally included as citizens, prior to that they were classified essentially as non-entities and could be used (and often abused) like animals, with no recourse to human rights. There are people (including some friends) who are living today with real actual trauma from this time, as well the generational impact of the consequences. We are all affected by this, even if we are not aware of it. I share this because this fact seems so abysmal to me – please just think about it for a moment – to be born in a country where your ancestors have lived for 46,000 years and then you are not even considered a citizen with basic rights, for generations? If this was your reality how would you feel? It is only one generation ago, my generation, that this has changed.
I do think it is time – not only in Australia – that we address historic colonisation and the horrific trauma that has resulted. For that to happen we need all voices at the table. We need opportunity for real listening and space for healing. One thing that I have witnessed with almost all of my indigenous friends is their insecurity to share their voice. The repeated trauma of being told to “shut up”; being told over and over that your opinion is not wanted or relevant resulting in anxiety about sharing their voice.
I say again, please, we need to hear your stories.
I do know that there will be some of who may say statements like: “Oh we have heard that already!” or “Come on, get over that, it happened decades ago!”. To those of you reading who maybe think this – please – we have not heard fully because oppression is systemic and generational and still very present, here now, today. We need to pay attention to what is being said not just in a historical sense but the very real here now effect. As a result of this systemic and generational suppression the resulting poverty, lack of education or real future opportunities and loss of true belonging are major contributions to the imbalance felt by people of colour. This is visible in so many ways if we choose to look at our current society – the number of people in colour incarcerated; experiencing poverty; the suicide rates; how few people of colour in leadership positions in our institutions and businesses.
In many of our white predominant societies the denial of authentic cultural and spiritual traditions of our citizens of colour also contribute to dissociation and displacement – a whole other conversation in itself – yet very relevant to this conversation of inclusion.
I do feel that we as the “privileged white” do have a responsibility to discover and look around us, to listen deeply to our friends of colour. We can ask: “Please tell me how this makes you feel, and, how can I be of support?” – and importantly – actively listen. We can read books written by people of colour, we can watch the movies and documentaries they have made from their own perspectives and insights. We can get to know the advocacy groups and businesses initiated and run by people of colour. There are some amazing leaders within communities of colour who are doing awesome work – we can get to know about their impact and initiatives. Here is one link to a page of various resources, primarily in Australia but inclusive of other countries too: https://www.vwt.org.au/anti-racism-resources-from-austral…/…
I do not advocate violence in any way. Yet I can understand that sometimes pain is expressed in anger and unhealthy behaviour. We need safe spaces so that when that trauma erupts it is not then causing re-traumatisation and continuation of unhealthy cycles. Intergenerational trauma is a mental health consequence of our collective past that we are still learning about – it is real. The mental health initiatives in this field need our support and funding. Encouraging safe spaces for expression and healing as well inviting indigenous community leaders to significant decision-making forums and positions of real leadership is vital for all of us to move forward constructively.
For many of us our conditioned beliefs and attitudes are quite unconscious. To become more aware and discover truths that we were previously blind to requires both the intention to see beyond our own views and the possibility to witness other narratives. Often, when there is a personal perspective or something that one can personally identify with, it can support a shift of understanding more easily.
I share a personal story. My dad’s mum, Annie, held quite strong racist beliefs and attitudes. I often attempted to share with her another point of view, but she was quite comfortable with her views. Then came a movie – Rabbit Proof Fence – based on a true story of three girls who were stolen from their birth mothers and forced into a white Christian “care home”. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0252444/) A movie depicting the “stolen generation”. The girls in the story were born near a small town in northwest Australia, called Wiluna. My grandmother, Annie, was born to new immigrant parents in Wiluna in the same year as the elder of the girls. I invited Annie to come and watch the film when it was released 2002. It profoundly changed her. Seeing the town she had grown up in being the place from which the girls were abducted from their mothers somehow made this story very personal. Annie cried for most of the movie. I had to help her walk out at the end. From that day her racism beliefs dissolved – at the age of 80 years old!
I do understand that, for many people, beliefs will not change in viewing one story. I also understand that this topic/theme of colour and race is complex and ranges now over a time period of centuries and several generations in many cases. Yet I hope that in my lifetime I will continue to see evolution and that as we do embrace the fact that “Black Lives Matter” we truly can begin to live the truth that all lives matter. With understanding the pain and suppression that so many people of colour have experienced, and are experiencing now, we can move forward together in healing and love, and find new balance that includes rather excludes. Suppression in any form affects all of us even if we are not consciously aware of it.
I bring in three quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. that have profoundly supported me in understanding and evolving with this complex reality of Black Lives Matter. My conscience tells me it is right to bring my voice to the table, all our voices are needed to advocate that Love, Acceptance and Understanding can be a healing foundation – for all of us.
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." (From his April 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail")
"I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems." (From his 1967 "Where Do We Go From Here?" address)
"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he [or she] must take it because conscience tells him her it is right.” (From his February 1968 "A Proper Sense of Priorities" speech)
Black Lives do Matter – to all of us.
If we wish to live in societies where there is balance and healthy evolution individually and collectively, then I feel we all need to proactively invest in inclusion. Education in my view is a powerful equaliser. We have seen that in closing the gender gap and the positive changes that have already supported people of colour. Initiating and encouraging wider community education as well within institutions can ensure the past is reframed in the here now reality that enables inclusion. Ensuring those from impoverished households can access financial support to start their own business, to attend higher education does make a difference. Reminding our colleague/boss/client/customer about matters relating to our coloured compatriots when we witness an imbalance or opportunity does help. Educating ourselves about the realities of our coloured friends by inviting and asking them to share their stories so that we can understand nuances that we may not have previously realised does create inclusion.
We cannot change the past, but we can evolve with it and create a future of inclusion.
To evolve systemic change in our communities and institutions takes all of us making a step where can. Each of us will have a different possibility and potential to contribute. Every step matters. I profoundly believe that we can make a difference when we allow ourselves to feel deeply within our heart. Can we let Love speak louder than prejudice? Can we listen and believe stories outside our own experience? Can we risk following our heart and not our conditioned past? Can we speak up and support when we see an injustice? I do feel hopeful during this time of rising that another wave of togetherness can emerge, another step forward on our path of inclusion.
Thank you for joining me in this expression of support & my continuing learning, 💕 with love, Kira Kay. 💕
(ps thank you to Mal & Mel for yarns this past few days that helped me articulate my thoughts!)
A few notes of educational resources from Australia Indigenous friends:
For those who may not be aware of some of the inhumane history in Australia this article with links to documentaries is eye opening.https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2016/12/01/10-things-you-should-know-about-slavery-australia?fbclid=IwAR1Zzn4PjZ9bnShmtZcLOosPKk1entaNId0I8EFIa8_wxEo74IRm3XcuroM