Tag Archives: Charlottesville

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DarylDavis 

Last week, I shared a Facebook post about a man who has been engaging with those who want to kill and oppress him in an effort to befriend them and let them get to know him as a person.

Daryl Davis has kept their KKK robes. Even typing the words makes me feel nauseous. Since the Charlottesville horror where a neo Nazi killed Heather Heyer and many other anti-racism protesters were hurt, the regular sight of them on the news, emboldened by their president, in 2017, has made me feel like I would physically be sick.

Yet Daryl Davis has found it in himself to do what Barack Obama encouraged us all to do before he left the White House and not only engage with the ‘other’ but befriend them.

Daryl Davis has been doing this for decades. You can read more HERE.

As the piece says, ‘He gets to know them because, in his words, “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? Look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me.”’

While it hurts my soul to give any headspace to people filled with such hate, I think it’s phenomenal that Daryl Davis has found the strength to meet hate with love.

While I’ve always been what many of my nearest and dearest call ‘hard work’ (challenging casual racism, sexism etc), it feels more important now than ever to engage with the people we know personally who have been taught to hate and, with as much love and compassion as we can muster, attempting to hear the ‘other’ and be open to whatever is trying to emerge.

As Nelson Mandela wrote in Long Walk to Freedom, ‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’

Resistance is hugely important. People acting out or threatening must be stopped. But pretending they don’t exist isn’t working.

So when we hear those milder versions by people we know or work with, we can curiously and compassionately encourage them to think about what they’re saying and explore. Not condone (at ALL) but pay attention.

This still feels beyond me, even as I type. And yet we all share the one planet.

What helps you listen to people you feel very opposed to?

Do you find that repeating your opinions louder and louder works or does opening up and hearing what someone else is trying to say create more room for progress?

Daryl Davis is an extreme example (I simply cannot imagine the courage and openness it must take. Even the keeping of the robes, I’d want to burn them and all they stand for) but we all have much smaller ways accessible to us to listen and hopefully, by doing so, help release some of that hate.

How do you feel at the prospect?

What has helped you if you’ve done something similar in the past?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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How privileged do you feel?

 JamesBaldwin

 We hear a lot, these days, about white privilege, male privilege, heteronormative privilege, cis privilege and more. Often, it’s said with snark. People get defensive. We compete over who has less and how it’s not our fault if we have more. No one connects. And nothing changes.

The events in Charlottesville this weekend, where so many neo Nazis went to spread hate in a university town and someone was killed and many more injured, can’t be ignored. It was obvious, with a US President endorsed by the KKK, that this would embolden such hateful attitudes but no less shocking or horrific. Things have to change.

Through staying connected on Facebook and other social media (and with some, in real life), I can see that people who have very different politics feel similarly to me in other areas. Everyone feels that they are doing their best for their loved ones. As far as I can make out, everyone on the planet wants the same things.

Thinking about privilege, even though it’s often used in that sneering way, can be helpful as long as we don’t get sucked into victim mode. This isn’t at ALL to suggest that oppressed minorities should get over it, more that those of us, recognising the privileges we DO have, can make a positive difference by owning it rather than complaining when someone points out that, in some way, we might have had it easier than them.

And that even the most historically oppressed have privilege in other areas (eg beauty). One of my favourite explorations of privilege comes from Anna Guest-Jelley’s book, Curvy Yoga. She writes, ‘Those whom society has decided to favour (read: white, thin, fit, able-bodied, make, heterosexual, middle-class-at-a-minimum) move through the world with greater ease than the rest of us… that’s what privilege means: Some people move through our world with more ease due to certain traits society deems “better”.’

She goes on to talk about ‘thin-privilege’ and ‘beauty privilege’, ‘age privilege’ and others I’d not considered and while her point is about ensuring as many students as possible feel welcome in yoga classes, by pausing to think about our own privilege – with compassion and curiosity – we can hopefully find more empathy for our fellow humans.

I’m really struggling with the notion of people I consider to be racist who, rather than attempting reparation for the horrors of slavery and colonialism, seem to be trying to turn back the clock to resuscitate it. As James Baldwin wrote, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’

I saw an American on the news last night talking about how his country has been built on genocide (of the native Americans) and slavery and how countries like Germany have reminders of their part in horrors of the past.

They’ve been willing to face their part in the past and vow never again. It’s naïve to think that certain countries are all sorted when there’s unrest all over but, psychologically speaking, it’s a saner approach to acknowledge the facts of history.

How does it feel to consider, no matter how oppressed or invisible you may feel in some areas, you have privilege in others?

My parents were recently laughing at 6 year old me when we were at a friends’ house. They told these friends about how I chose to take a ‘slave’ role in infant school because I hadn’t wanted to be a slave owner / perpetrator. One of the friends immediately said, ‘But you could have set the slaves free.’

This hadn’t occurred to 6 year old me. Now in my 40s, I can see that there’ve been a whole range of ways in which I’ve self-sabotaged because I’ve felt guilty about some of what has come easily and ashamed of what I’ve struggled with.

Do you disempower yourself because you recognise that it’s not fair that your life is easier than others’? 

For example, by taking better care of personal finances, someone can do more good in terms of donating more and making a difference than if they underearn and overspend because they feel helpless about the inequalities across the globe.

By speaking up and offering support to someone who is being targeted with any kind of hate speech, someone can do more than slinking off feeling ashamed of their fellow man/white person.

How might you use your privilege for the benefit of others rather than shame spiralling because (let’s face it, none of us did anything to DESERVE where or who we were born to) of guilt or fear?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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