Asians for Black Lives + The Healing Work We Can Do

Every passing week makes me stand taller in who I am, and every passing week makes me appreciate and recognize how my liberation is tied with the liberation of Black people in our country, and around the world.

As an Asian-American woman, I know that actions of Black liberation has contributed to my liberation. People of color in this country have battled systemic racism from the get go, and it continues to this day. Because I am a non-Black woman of color I have measures of white privilege, but I understand fundamentally that I will only be allowed to be my fullest expression of self, and feel safe wherever I go, when Black people are liberated from the oppressive systemic cultures that we all participate in, whether we know it, or want to, or not.

As I shared briefly a couple weeks ago via social media - we are in a dark night of the soul moment.

I hope, in my deepest heart of hearts, not much more than what we have already seen, and been shown, and exposed to is necessary for real change to take root and grow.

It is time for us to collectively, with full earnest, to step in and do the work.

It is both the work of deep healing as well as setting things right.

And healing deep wounds is not easy. Healing sometimes feels like deep pain and trauma passing through.

For the Jungians out there reading this (referring to Carl Jung) today we are being confronted fiercely with our shadows, to reckon.

It started with our global confinement for months with COVID-19, and progressed to the blatant and fierce exposure of police brutality and the ruthless treatment of Black lives.

And I want to say this.

Do not fear this reckoning.

Do not fear your shadows.

Love them. Honor them.

When we see them as the gifts and teachers they are, when we allow them to integrate into our full selves, rather than to accept an existence half-integrated with intentional or unconscious denial wedged where the shadows lie, we have real opportunity for expansive, world-changing healing to take place at an unprecedented scale.

I know, this might be a bit "out there" for a few of you reading this.

We are light and darkness, we are masculine and feminine, we are stillness and motion, we are yin and yang. We have capacity for good and for evil.

When we live only in one side and ignore or mistreat the other, we become severely imbalanced.

We are seeing the symptoms of those imbalances the world over from the macro (earth systems, climate change) to the micro (individual diseases in people that also manifest across populations.) And it is showing up in everything in between.

Yet we have SO MUCH POWER within ourselves to be balanced and to learn what that feels like (we haven't seen it at scale in western history), but we have the capacity to do it.

We do.

Most of us have not been taught as a skill growing up how to integrate and align with ourselves.

Most of us have been taught how to isolate,judge, self-loathe, shame, and blame. We have been taught how to fit in or be kicked out.

Those are the skills, and "programming" that most of us have been exposed to in the modern era.

20 years ago it was just barely beginning to be tolerable to be openly gay. 53 years ago I would have been an illegal birth as my parents are racialized differently. And at any other point in history I could have been incarcerated at an internment camp, massacred along a creek, had my land stolen for white settlers, or been held in a cage as a minor along the American / Mexican border.

When some people look with confusion at 2020 and say, but it's the fault of the illegals who come, or the people in poverty who turn to crime, they are turning a blind eye to the intentional machinations of people throughout history that prescribed these outcomes for the benefit of white and light-skinned people at the cost of Black people and people of color.

And even if they recognize it but they say, well, sure, ancestors of mine may have done that, but I'm not racist, they are turning a blind eye to the privilege they have to uphold the system as it is while it benefits them.

I started a 1:1 coaching practice alongside my organizational work because I fundamentally understood that I could not do enough with people at a systemic level to fix the problems of racism and bias when there were people I worked with who did not have the skills, tools, or experience to integrate their shadow selves and understand how their liberation too was tied to this work.

It's not about diversity, it's about belonging.

That belonging is the liberation to be at home, wherever we are, and to be honored and welcome there for who we are and how we show up.

And when the folks I am working with in systems to address racism and bias don't know how to belong to themselves, how can they do the work?

The work must be done simultaneously at multiple levels.

We must work at the individual level to address our personal lack of integration and alignment around our darkness and our light.

We must work at the family level to work on how and what we as parents teach intentionally or unintentionally, and how we model relationship building, trust, and communication.

That family level sets the stage for working at the community, school, media, institutional/business and systems levels.

When we work on ourselves and become integrated, we become attuned to how the rest of it should actually be working. If we are whole, we want others to be allowed wholeness too.

Don't think that we can fix racism if we're not willing to look within at the pillars that uphold the structures of our collective minds, bodies and spirits.

For this week, I will leave you with this as we all continue to emerge:

  1. Take care of yourself. Slow down. Protect and manage your energy. We have a problem older than our country erupting in real time. We will not solve this today. Stay within your 24 hours. Breathe. Root. Anchor. Within you is radiant pure light and love and when it is hard, remember, you have permission to be, to rest, to cry or howl, and then to also smile, laugh, and have joy. Whether or not you feel isolated or in community, we are all, ultimately, in this together.

  2. Know if it is time to listen, or to speak. Be discerning. Do you need to share your story, and if so, who does it benefit? Do you need to share to validate yourself? Do you need to share to help heal yourself and others? Begin a practice of discernment to understand when it is time to speak, and when it is time to listen. Other than these emails I'm a lot quieter. My social media went dark a couple days ago because my voice isn't needed there. I want to say a few things, concretely, allow them to go where they do, and then I personally need to rest, and to listen.

  3. Don't take it personally. Establish your healthy boundaries. If you don't take it personally, and you do your best (those of you who have read the book The Four Agreements will recognize these words) you will gain the measure of grace and space to be an active witness to what is unfolding, and better able to understand how you may play a constructive and active role. You'll understand what within you can be confronted and questioned. You'll be able to listen without fighting back or engaging in a debate where no one wins. And when you do step in with the actions that are right for you to take, be impeccable with your word (speak truth rooted from a place of love, not fear or criticism or judgement) and don't make assumptions of where the other person is coming from. Listen for understanding. (If you haven't read it, as you read up on anti-racism, buy a copy of The Four Agreements, it's worth it.)

  4. Last, and not least, be ready for the unexpected, get familiar with discomfort. We've been practicing for a few months with this already, it probably isn't going away any time soon. Unprecedented growth for humanity is happening right now, and it feels like absolute chaos and confusion. When we have the measure of space and grace to understand that there is opportunity here to show up as helpers and healers amidst this terrain, this is when we step into our authentic selves.

We can do this. I believe in us. I believe in you.

Love,

Ellen


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