“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” ~ Audre Lorde
I’m beginning to understand something that I wanted to understand when I began this journey.
I’m beginning to know why I am silent about so many things and about why I am silent about what is happening to our world.
It is giving me even more clarity about why men might be silent, one of the impetuses for this exploration.
Lest I get too ahead of myself, I also know there is still much that is hidden.
What is hidden keeps me stuck. Stuck consciousness. Stuck life force. Stuck power. Power in a good, strong, vital way. Power that is life-affirming, like the power the cherry tree outside our house is showing me, right now, as the buds of soon-to-be blossoms begin to take form.
You can get a sense of the power that is released when we speak up and out with truth from these powerful and courageous posts by Jeanne and Angela.
It is the raw power that fuels all of life, the power of truth not wielded over others, but truth spoken form the core of one’s being, in service to freeing consciousness, which in turn frees us all. I can feel it in the words and it is beautiful.
What has become clear,
are some of the limiting beliefs and feelings of shame that keep us silent. I know we all feel shame of some sort.
“white shame is this deeply private feeling of not being at home within one’s own white community. (p. 13) Shame is an emotional display of a hidden civil war. It is a pitched battle by a self against itself in order to stop feeling what it is not supposed to feel: forbidden desires and prohibited feelings that render one different.(p. 12)
“the Euro-American child,… is a racial victim of its own white community of parents, caretakers, and peers, who attack it because it does not yet have a white racial identity. Rather than continue to suffer such attacks, the Euro-American child defends itself by creating a white racial identity for itself. It begins to think and act like its community’s ideal of a white self. When the adult recalls the feelings and ideas it had to set aside in order to mound this defense, it feels shame. More precisely, white shame. …
The parts of (the child) that were not white had to be set aside as unloved and therefore unlovable. (p. 13) Shame is the death of an unloved part of the self because it, apparently, is just not good enough to be loved. (p.17)
When I read this,
“The parts of (the child) that were not white…” everything just stopped. Stopped.
Wait a minute, I thought. Parts of me that were not white. Parts of me that are not white. It sounded so foreign, yet so true.
So foreign, because I so strongly identified with being white. It seems as if it’s been a given, all my life. I’ve always felt different than those that were not white. There felt like a gap of some sort.
So true, because I can feel, have been able to feel, those parts in my psyche that aren’t white, that never identified that way, that were put to sleep, way down inside.
Such a funny feeling. That gap = those parts and places inside that I have denied of my own wholeness.
Then, the remembering that there is no such thing as race. No such thing as race. I remember when I first learned that race is only a concept with no genetic validity. It’s a social construct (destruct?) created at some point to differentiate, to separate, to categorize, to stratify.
You know how it feels when something hits you that wakes you up? Wakes up a place that has been asleep for a long time? That’s what happened. Something big that had been stuck was now free.
Something important has been seen through.
I take it a step further from what I shared here of Thandeka’s words.
We all have all parts within us. Everything is within. The entire Universe, is inside each and everyone of us. The Universe is holographic, meaning the entire Universe is within. We each have all parts. Girl and boy; white, black, brown, yellow and red; straight and gay; dark and light; joyful and rageful. We all have these parts within us.
“The parts of (the child) that were not [insert quality not mirrored in family, community, country] had to be set aside as unloved and therefore unlovable.”
This very clear articulation of me having to disown those parts of myself that aren’t white fits. I know this somewhere deep inside. I feel joy in seeing this. There are parts of me that don’t feel ‘white’ at all.
For me, remembering these parts and knowing they didn’t die, is the key. I killed them in my consciousness, because that is how I created my ‘identity’. But, what is whole is whole. My unwhite parts, my gay parts, my indigenous parts, my rageful and bitchy parts, are still very much available to me and I celebrate this, because it means I am not so different than anyone else who has been classified as ‘other’.
We are much more alike
than we believe ourselves to be. And this is good news, for in releasing the illusion of separation, we find out that we are indeed one consciousness robed as billions of separate human beings.
Just this realization has released even more life force, more stuck consciousness, more remembering of my whole self.
My knowing I am more like you does not mean I know your pain, your experience, your oppression, your privilege, or your lack of any of these things. Rather, it has created an opening of desire to connect, to hear, to listen, to know and to love. It has opened my eyes and my heart ever more widely to my true nature, while also giving me a greater capacity to embody all these parts of myself that I thought I had cast away so long ago.
Many of you have written
about why you don’t speak up, why you silence yourself.
“I don’t dare speak up because i am not worthy. I am white. I am middle class. I am not worthy.”
“Thank you for this post. It made me accept that I need to remain part of the conversation. Sometimes I think I have no right.”
“My voice doesn’t matter. How dare i say anything? Me, who’s had it so easy.”
These words ring in my ears. “Sometimes I think I have no right.”
How many of us believe we have no right to speak up? No right to be in the conversation? No right to speak up for ourselves, the earth, all those who can’t speak, for all the world’s children that are, right now, suffering greatly?
How many of us hear a shrill internal voice, harshly berating us with, “Who do you think you are?”
I ask you
to think about this, something my good friend, Judith Cohen, shared in her comment on part one:
A thought just passed through my mind thinking about oppression and comparing oppressions. I wonder if comparison is just another way the patriarchy tricks us into believing that there is not enough heart and compassion to go around. Patriarchy is so much about hierarchy and power. Certainly, it’s convenient and an energy saver not to have to consider those whose experiences fall lower in the hierarchy. But hierarchy doesn’t exist in support of love. It lives to support a small number of people wielding power over others. We’ve “democratized” hierarchy by letting more diverse people in at the top but hierarchy is still a system that says “NO!” to most people. It continues to poison all of our relationships by asserting that some of us are better than others or that some type of pain is more worthwhile than another.
to feel what Niki Andre shared as a comment on part three:
I’m frustrated by the divisive undercurrents of guilt and blame that distract us
From getting down to the crux:
It is necessary for us
To dispell the silence as One.
This us and them mentality,
Their divide and conquer legacy…
This is it isn’t it?
This is what keeps us
Too factioned and fragmented to effectively rise up;
Conditioned for infighting,
We are easily quieted or confounded to remain stuck;
The silenced majority remains
This system of patriarchy doesn’t live on its own. It can’t. Patriarchy is not a thing. It is not men. It lives in people and in the things people create out of patriarchal beliefs. We breathe life into it when we act from the beliefs and thoughts that habitually feed our choices.
Our internalized patriarch tricks us into making many choices the heart would never choose.
We are all very underprivileged when we allow ourselves to be silenced.
Who do you think you are?
Who do I know I am?
A woman infused with life, infused with the sacred light of love, infused with a basic goodness, living and breathing the sacred feminine. A woman who can, and must, choose in each moment to bring her full self to the conversation for the sake of what is being born.
This post is the fourth in a series of posts on Silence, Privilege and Oppression. You’ll find part one, part two, and part three important preludes to this post, as well as this interlude a beautiful expression of how powerful it is to voice what is dying to be said.