It’s important to allow people of color to have a voice, to speak about their pain and for us as white women to truly, deeply listen.
“Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action…” ~Audre Lorde
To all white women right now I would invite you to slow down. Slow down and allow yourself to feel, to have a deep genuine emotional response to what is happening to black people in America. Make it personal. Imagine if your partner was Philando Castile who was murdered before your very eyes. Really let that sink in. Don’t fight it, don’t dismiss it. Refuse to make it a distant problem that doesn’t concern you. We have to see the insanity that makes us think that the source of violence against black people is not also oppressing us as well.
How can white women support black women as our sisters in our common struggle for liberation as women? I believe the first thing we must do is resist the temptation to gloss over it, to seek some kind of resolution, however premature and superficial, just to relieve ourselves of the tension of necessary self-scrutiny.
“The answer to cold is heat. The answer to hunger is food. But there is no simple answer to racism, to sexism and to homophobia. There is only the conscious focusing of my days to move against them, wherever I come up against these particular manifestations of the same disease.” ~Audre Lorde
As women of all races, we need spaces to connect with each other, to speak to one another, to hear one another and then, together creatively direct the force of our anger toward it’s true target, to the patriarchal systems that oppress all people, women, black, gay, lesbian, poor people, etc.
The mother wound is itself a product of patriarchy; it is a byproduct of women (and men) living in a culture that devalues the complexity of valid human functions. It is these very functions that are essential to helping us dismantle the systems (inner and outer) that make racism a fact of our existence. Let’s re-claim them:
•our full repertoire of human emotions and feelings, including anger and grief
•vulnerability, sharing, connecting
•slowness and the nature of things taking time
•long-term organic processes
•the death part of the growth cycle
•things that are complicated and cyclical
•the value of rest
•the value of listening
•the value of process
•the value of intuition
•the value of our physical bodies
•the value of failure and making mistakes
Let’s face it, there is no shortcut…it’s time to engage with the complexity.
Patriarchal thinking fears complexity, but it is precisely this embrace of complexity that will enlarge our collective future beyond anything we’ve ever imagined.
We live in a culture that devalues and fears female anger, whether you are black or white. Yet our wise foremothers Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde have told us that anger is the very constructive and creative force we can use to launch collective change. Creative use of anger is not to lash out in outwardly in blame or inwardly as shame, but to use anger as the source of energy that spurs us into action and that connects us to one another in our common goal to root out oppression in all its forms. As Audre Lorde has said, anger is essential to “excavating honesty.” This has to be our true goal because everything rests on that bedrock of honesty.
Every period of expansion and release is first preceded by tension and contraction.
Let us use this time of tremendous tension to consciously enter into these labor pains for our culture with our eyes wide open, not flinching, not turning away from the consciousness that is growing inside of us. I am committed to growing, learning and acting on this journey as a woman, as a white woman. I invite you to join me. Like a mother in birth, let us open to our own pain, and open to the pain of black women and people of color.
Let’s enter our hearts, feel the true magnititude of the outrage and allow it to spur us into wise, swift action.
*Editor’s note: This number of black men killed by police was correct at the time the article was written in July 2016.
Bethany Webster is a writer, transformational coach, international speaker and what you could call a midwife of the heart. Her work is focused on helping women heal the “mother wound” so that they can step into their divine feminine power and potential. Her articles on the mother wound been featured in several online platforms. She offers a signature online course, high-level coaching programs and in-person workshops. She is the author of the forthcoming book “Healing the Mother Wound: Move Beyond What Your Mother Never Gave You and Become the Woman You’re Meant to be.”
This article was originally published on Bethany Webster’s website.