Welcome to Our UndoingJan 14, 2022
In this new blog space, we’ll be undoing what we’ve learned (and lived) about race, privilege, and equality. We’ll undo what we think we know about power (our own and others’), what it takes to create change, and our excuses for our behavior.
Undoing is the companion blog to my membership and community, Inspired by Indigo. The color indigo is associated with integrity, wisdom, clarity of perception, and service, and is one of my favorite colors.
As an antiracism/anti-oppression facilitator, my motto is no blame, no shame, no guilt. That means I don’t:
- blame anyone for the color of their skin
- shame anyone for the actions of their ancestors, forefathers, or foremothers
- guilt anyone for their behavior before they came into my space
Why? Because those emotions get in the way of learning and doing something different. After 20+ years as a community organizer, what I’ve learned is that if you can deal with emotions first, then people have the capacity to listen and change their hearts, minds, and behavior. Teaching facts without dealing with what’s going on in people’s hearts and heads makes things so much harder.
Who is this space for?
- If you’ve been curious about antiracism, hesitant to ask questions, wondering how to take the first steps to learn and change your behavior, this is a good place to start.
- If you’re Black or a Person of Color and you want to know how to respond to white people who expect you to have the answers, I got you.
- If you’re looking for a safe space to practice what you’ve learned, come on in! (Let me be clear - safe space doesn’t mean unchallenged. If you come into this space with some jacked up beliefs and attitudes, we’ll have to talk. But if you make an honest mistake – as everyone does – while you’re moving towards equity, all you can do is learn and do better the next time.)
- If you’re tired of feeling overwhelmed and anxious, and you’re ready to be part of the solution, welcome.
- If learning in big chunks is just too much, this is your spot! (I got tired of teaching in big chunks, so now I do bite-sized lessons – once a week for 30 minutes or less, sometimes much less. We learn in baby steps and build on what we know to make antiracism a habit. It finally clicked for me that it doesn’t have to be so hard!)
- If you’ve been part of the movement and you are just sick and tired of fighting racism, this is the space for you!
No longer fighting racism
I say that in all seriousness because I’m tired of fighting. Fighting wears me out. Thinking about fighting something as big and pervasive as racism makes me tired.
It took me a while to figure out that what I do isn’t really fighting. I have worked with people who held some seriously racist beliefs (both internalized and directed at me as "other") and truly didn’t see anything wrong with their thinking or behavior. And I didn’t fight with them. I loved them. I was patient, held my boundaries, treated them with the compassion I wanted for myself, and kindly pointed out the errors in their thinking and the disrespect in their behavior. And eventually, they had an aha moment. And every one who got it apologized, explained the revelation, and shared what they learned with the people around them.
When I argue with people, I leave the conversation angry and I’m sure they do, too. Neither of us changes our minds most of the time. But when I lead with love and boundaries, people hear me, and they can change.
So I’m intentionally no longer fighting racism. I’m transforming it. I’m using my superpower of love and my skills for teaching self-acceptance and self-forgiveness to change hearts, minds, and behavior. I know it sounds hokey. And I know everybody won’t agree. But this is how I work for my own well-being. That’s not so say I won’t throw down if necessary, but it does mean that I lead with love.
What’s the challenge?
Racism is woven into every aspect of modern life in the United States, whether we notice and acknowledge it or not. Over the centuries, it has taken on a life of its own, and people in power don’t have much incentive to change it. The only way future generations can have a more equal society is for us to create it now.
Black people and other people of color can feel burdened by the extra pressure society places on us – hyper policing, being asked to take extra steps to prove our worth. And white people can feel burdened with maintaining the status quo, not breaking solidarity with other white people, even when they are uncomfortable with blatant racism.
So how do you know what to say or do? Not every Black person and person of color knows how to stand up for themselves when they are discriminated against. Most white people don’t know how to stand against racism.
What will it take to change things?
Knowing and teaching the facts alone isn’t working. I know from teaching about race, poverty, power, and privilege that when you give people just the facts, it often doesn’t change much. Knowing what’s wrong and how to fix it doesn’t mean you will. (If knowing the facts worked, we’d all eat well, exercise, get enough rest, and have great habits!)
What works? Dealing with your emotions first. Yep. When I changed the way I teach to address people’s feelings first - before we ever started talking about facts - I found that when we completed workshops and courses, my students made changes in their behavior. They started talking differently, they connected with people who didn’t look like them, they spoke up in places where they had been silent.
"You give us the information and the encouragement and with that, we find the courage. My voice may be shaky and my words may be clumsy, but that will not stop me." Susan O.
After years of teaching and figuring out what works, I’ve developed a plan for making social justice a habit. We’ll undo the work, following the four pillars of Inspired by Indigo, my membership and community:
- Self-care because healing is a form of protest. Healing from fear, anger, blame, and shame goes against the way our society operates. True healing is revolutionary for the person and those around the one who healed. Protest by taking care of you.
- Know your facts to undo myths and lies. Truth alone doesn’t always overcome lies, but without facts, you can’t find the truth. Facts combined with healing can change hearts, minds, and behavior.
- Undo the work. Knowing the facts and feeling good about yourself is the foundation, but you can’t change the world unless you do something. Take action against hate and isms.
- Rest and celebrate. Take a break to avoid burnout. Acknowledge your wins to avoid disillusionment. Then take a deep belly breath and start over with self-care.
The bottom line is this...
We're all in this together, whether we want to be or not. And if we fight hate with hate, hate always wins. I choose love.
If this sounds good, join my mailing list to get a free download, a jeopardy-style racism vocabulary worksheet. I’ll give you the definitions and you guess the correct word. You’ll also receive weekly email notifications when a new post goes live.
Sending you fierce love!
The Real Sacil