Intro to Environmental Racism

First of all, I wanted to say that if you didn’t make it to the Shado Mag talk "Why Black Lives Matter in the Climate Movement", please watch it here. Understanding the ideas that they discuss is foundational to how we mend our planet. I took pages and pages of notes, but rather than try and paraphrase, I think you should just watch it. It’s an hour of brilliant conversation. I will say this about it. It made me acutely aware of how I am a part of the “white-washing” of the climate movement. And I want to do what I can to amplify the voices of these brilliant environmentalists. So diversify your feed and follow them on Instagram! 

  1. Mikaela Loach - @mikaelaloach

  2. Samia Dumbuya - @samiaalexandra

  3. Joycelyn Longdon - @climateincolour

  4. Teju Adisa-Farrar - @misstej

I want to continue with our Mend challenge of reducing our waste next week, but I have been feeling the need to emotionally mend after this week. It was very heartbreaking to see white nationalist terrorists treated so politely by Capital Police in D.C. A completely opposite picture to what we saw this past summer during BLM protests. How do we mend the fabric of a society pulled apart by these discrepancies? Well if you’re white, like me, we really have to face our relationship to racism and events like this with a lot of presence, mindful inquiry, and love.

We can't really have climate justice until we have racial and social justice. So I am sharing the following contemplations. Please keep reading if you’re white. Especially if you were shocked or confused by the past week's displays of racism and inequality.

I have been using the Yamas as guiding principles of investigation since Yesterday and I have found it very grounding so I wanted to share. The following are contemplations I have come up with and I practice RAIN in each one (go back and read my last post about Tara Brach’s RAIN). Trust your process and intuition. If something feels like too much or evokes trauma, back off for now and try again later or adapt the contemplation so that it doesn’t evoke a trauma response. You might also add intuitive movement as you contemplate each one, especially if it evokes an antsy-ness. Move, breathe and meditate. Maybe just contemplate one as you move through a yoga class. But whatever we do, do it with wisdom and love with the intention of mending.

Ahimsa: non-violence, non-harming

If I feel harmed, i will create harm. Where am I feeling harmed? Address the harm that is caused to you by seeing displays of hate and racism on the grounds of our capital this past week. My heart hurts to see the inequality of how these racist, white supremacist, terrorists were treated compared to the peaceful BLM protests of the summer were shown. Practice RAIN. Recognize, Accept, Investigate and Nurture this harm. 

Satya: truthfulness

What am I ashamed of admitting right now? What am I trying to deny? As painful as it may be to face something, the only way is through. We can’t move on to next steps in climate justice or any other kind of justice until we see that we live in a racist society that was founded on slave labor, and white people are still benefiting from the racist system in many ways. Alternative contemplations here are: To what degree am I still benefiting from the racist system in this country? What are my privileges afforded me by my whiteness? Make a list. Being honest with yourself about this. It will let you see what is within your power to change and give and offer in the process of healing. 

Asteya: non-stealing

Hoarding or stealing power comes from a sense of not having enough. In what areas of life do I feel deficient or lacking in power? Can I see that I am enough and have enough so that I can find ways of sharing it or giving it back. Maybe this comes in the form of supporting black businesses in my area or amplifying black and BIPOC voices. Maybe it is in the form of time and energy spent advocating for racial justice.

Brahmacharya : Godliness / withdrawing of the senses

The same desire for love, tenderness, and wholeness that exists in me exists in all.  Within me there is god-like consciousness. I am love. When we forget this, we don’t feel whole and the above three yamas are harder to achieve (hoarding or acquiring materials to feel whole, lying to myself and other, ect.). What am I focused on outwardly that distracts from my true nature? How am I creating separateness?

Aparigraha: Non-attachment

In what areas am I attached? We can do all of the above and still feel that nothing changes. But remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Racism and systems that benefit from racism have existed for centuries. They say that when you exit an abusive relationship (or any relationship not serving you) it takes half the time you were in it to heal. We are going to be mending from racial oppression for a very long time, y’all. If we are attached to immediate outcomes, we’ll likely give up quickly. If we accept that this is the work and trust that if we do it with truthfulness and all of the above intentions then we will in deed be moving forward towards a more equitable world. How we move towards that is what matters most. 

These are just my thoughts and contemplations. I'm no master of my mind by any means. I watched this talk last night (after posting this blog post) and it helped integrate all the previous reflections I just shared in a gentler, more eloquent approach. I recommend watching this Tara Brach talk on "The Three Refuges: Gateways to Awakening" because it's truly beautiful and awakening!