I’m sure it would be wisest to stay silent. Yet as I only just begin to understand my own complicity in regards to systemic racism, I traverse that all to familiar feeling of the underlying psychic belief in my own wrongness. I begin to suspect that this is something that my culture weaponises against me to keep me compliant. Even as I grapple with shame and distress at my own part in this, I also hold a deeper conviction in my own innate and intrinsic human intelligence, always seeking a benevolent restitution, seeking to understand that there is a deeply redemptive quality of inclusivity and care that is at the heart of this universal experience. As a daughter of this mother Gaia, however waylaid and distorted I may be, I also now understand that I am beloved by Her, by Her vast web of cohesive love, and that I am not loved for my perfection, but rather in spite of my messy, flawed, blind, deluded identity, because I am alive and a very infinitesimal part of a great cohesive whole of evolving and awakening consciousness. As I begin the journey of learning to awaken to and heal with, and attune to this macrocosmic grace, there is yet so much dangerous unconsciousness at play, fumbling and bumbling my way through this messy thing called life, my heart wants to speak to what I see, what I feel and sense, in all my flaws, with all my blindness.
As people of white skin, living within a paradigm of colonial domination, of supremacy indoctrination, we are actually living inside a harrowing wound of narcissism. Each of us is given the birth-right of being special, of becoming successful, of thriving economically in the face of ecological destruction at the untenable volume of our increase, of being a unique individual contributing inside a hollow and narcotic vacuum, that actually has no space for us, let alone more marginalised voices and has no true care for anyone’s authentic wellbeing in any way that is sustainable to earth, or nourishing to body and soul.
Most of us in this culture are slogging away in blind obedience, unless of course we are one of a very rare few, deemed exemplary enough to become spokespeople of the dream. There is no actual soulful nourishment or integrated belonging in sight, other than that which grows like medicinal weeds on the periphery, through the cracks in the sidewalks, in the fertile crevices of our annihilating grief. Nourishment as dissent.
For so many of us there is no ancient ancestral wisdom to lean back into, no conscious notion of the mother-ground of earth as intrinsic, reciprocal ecosytem, holding us beyond our fickle notions of identity, not because we are uniquely magnificent, each and every white-skinned being, but because we just are worthy of life and connection and love, just by being born and playing our humble part in the vast web of life inside an ecologically embedded macrocosm. To allow ourselves to die to white privilege is perhaps to die a little to our obsession with personal identity, prestige, gift, talent, contribution, to die to a sense of our own individualistic significance. It is this that keeps us sucking at the dry teat of materialism, consumerism, denialism, ecological annihilation, brutality and desecration of peoples marginalised by the system that holds our shallow and fragile egos afloat.
We are so busy, scrambling up ladders, stepping on the heads and fingers of others to gain the recognition that we delude ourselves would validate our existence in that way that we all hunger for, like addicts, bereft actually and in denial of how very grief- stricken we are. Grief stricken because the system we are born into is a travesty and a farce, yet it is perceived as all that we have. It is founded on exploitation and brutal violence towards any “other” that knows implicitly a deeper belonging, an embedded sense of self that is not dependant on an economic imperative for its survival. Perhaps the deepest reckoning for us, as white skinned humans, sons and daughters of imperialist agendas, is that it has been so so long since our blood lines inhabited their own intact connection to ancestral lands and spoke their own language of country, since our hands tended the soils of our heartland, fed from the foliage and root of our great grandmother’s herbs. So long it has been, since we were truly nourished by something other than vicarious trauma, that we have become the hungry ghosts of a broken world, vampiric, adrift, insatiable, striving to prove ourselves inside a system that will never be able to offer the deep succour that our souls hunger for. Because you can’t buy that kind of love, that kind of aliveness, it can’t be transmitted through the congratulations of a social media post.
If there is any salvation for us to have it will be in stepping aside and quieting the harrowing tantrum inside, the driven imperative that desperately wants to insist that we matter, that must contend with the trauma of us all being orphans in a way. Orphaned from true belonging, from ancestral wisdom, from connection to place, language, lore, plant medicine, land. Orphaned to care and ritual and intergenerational custodianship and embodied, robust, connected community. Orphaned to love in a world that validates disconnection, from body, from feeling, from earth, from innate wisdom, from dreaming, from creative intelligence.
Perhaps there is a miraculous work that is possible for us now, indeed a work that so many of us have already so magnificently begun, that we might find some last ditched imperative in ourselves to partake of, that might involve a deep planting, slow stitching, a silent weaving, an attuned tilling, hands Earth stained with our labour of moulding and kneading, of seeking true form, hands oiled by the rituals of caring for body and plant being, animal kin, sunbeam and star light. Our bodies engaging with the bodies of others who we do not understand, who we have done harm to, humbling, humbling, transmuting, taking responsibility for our pain and dislocation, the wide open ears of our hearts and our wombs awakening to the experience of all beings, and the possibility of belonging to each other after all, as apposed to standing above, monolithic and alone and stained in the blood of those we stepped upon to arrive at our own magnificent agenda, with an imperial presence of our own importance. Instead, perhaps, this work of tendering ourselves back into the deeper, cohesive matter of existence, through all the sickening layers of moral trauma, as to what we have been perpetuating that is in truth violent and violating.
For myself I can only do that when I begin to embrace the extremely repellent and uncomfortable dismantling of my own white privilege, my dysregulated attachment to an abusive paradigm of soulless brutality, that has convinced us that each and every one of us can be a super hero, that each and every one of us deserves a place in the spotlight, that we matter to the world. Our own importance a way of appeasing the gaping maw of our own insignificance inside a brutalising, earth-annihilating machine of consumerist destruction, staving off the harrowing realisation that there is actually nothing of substance that our dominator culture has to offer that is worth mattering to. Staving off the deeper truth, which is that even as it provides the opportunity to become individualistically revered, it doesn’t care a jot for us either, beyond our capacity to keep the cogs of this monolithic monster of exploitation and capitalistic destruction turning. We need to wake up. We need to wake up now before it is too late.
As I squirm in my own complicity, I seek to use my hands to learn how to use a needle and thread to trace an intact strand, back through the ages of trauma, of my long ago ancestors who have something worth teaching, before it was taken from them and me in turn, by the same paradigm of colonial brutality that is still at work within humanity. We all belong to this beautiful earth, there was once a time when all of our ancestors knew this. I want to understand the trauma of being white and seek to allow my nervous system to settle and detoxify itself from its marathon of struggle for self importance, in the face of an annihilating dirth of true cultural care and nourishment and reciprocated belonging. I want to truly fathom the barrenness and brokenness of my inheritance and listen at the interface of radical care, profound tenderness, fierce love, transformative accountability, to hopefully begin to know how I can belong to my own self and this beautiful Earth that I call home, in a way that makes me less dangerous to others, less dangerous to the ecosystem that sustains me, less dangerous to myself.
Image and text © Lucy Pierce 2020