"You Can't Shake Hands With A Clenched Fist"
Perhaps I've chosen one of the most challenging aspects or “arms” of the social justice movement: Racial Justice. Actually, it chose me. And it's not really an “aspect or arm” of the embodied social justice movement. It's the foundation of injustice in the country I was born in (and where I continue to make my home).
The founding tenets of this country are steeped, full throttle, in race-ism. In other words, the entire way in which the United States has edged its way to world domination is predicated on race and race relations.
I will do my best to explain a deeply complicated issue in the next three hundred and ninety-one words.
I live in Seattle, WA, located in the Northwest region of the United States. I was born here and raised in Hawai'i, an incredibly ethnically diverse region of the world.
In Seattle, the racial tension here is thick and racist practices are often covert, disguised in liberal white middle-class nicety-speak. In other words, there is strong and pervasive 'colorblindness' that replaces overt and bigoted racism that one might find in the southern United States. Very challenging in that, acts of racism become difficult to “prove” - requisite to [maintaining] white privilege. After all, if one can't prove it, how can it possibly be true? On a daily basis, it's exhausting; If one is trying to move up the career ladder and support a family, it can be - and has been - devastating.
My family is no exception. We have our share of racists experiences. My father was shot through the back as he walked out of a bank after the guard told him they “...didn't want 's in here.” The guard reports his gun “slipped” from his holster and he got off on justifiable homicide.
No one wants to talk about it, even those who live with it every day. I witness countless instances of racial discrimination, white privilege, white supremacy, male patriarchal cultural dominance, to name a few paradigms. What makes it challenging is that the same people exhibiting all of the above are - mostly - kind, friendly, and often helpful people. The requirement for a conversation that preserves a relationship of integrity is paramount to effectively dismantling the paradigms discussed above. These conversations aren't easy. And they don't happen instantly.
The good news is the Global Race Conversation is on the table! Our work is not in vain! At the radio station & Community College I engaged in Courageous Conversations and co-facilitated student and faculty/staff workshops on how to engage in rich meaningful dialogue about race.
Our solutions are real. We can and do engage in dialog here. In essence, communicating and sharing our personal stories of our racial experiences is one pathway to healing. This is why World Pulse & Pulsewire are vital tools for dismantling racism and advocating racial justice. I think it's time to take it a step further and start a Racial Justice Healing place on World Pulse! (How's that for activated passion!?)