A Meditation on the Impact of Racial Isolation & Courageous Conversations Racism
Racism or more specifically crying racism has never serve me. Like many reading this I’ve always felt this child like fear of loneliness and isolation anytime I’ve imagined speaking out about what I’ve experienced or witnessed. I’ve also lived those petrifying outcomes each and every time I do speak. And yet I still do.
My work, my life has always been passion abundant. Fortunately for me, my passions prior to my traumas are still very real and lie somewhere, in my souls still waters. I know that as sands coalesce in the under-current to form peals, I too am afforded this a life that sifts through experience and forms new hopes.
My hopes for myself and my family have always hinged on a few precocious idioms I discovered in tandem with my blackness:
- The varying returns of working far harder than those you serve,
- how prayer is at time prescriptive,
- and that pain is learning proactively what zero-tolerance means. I learned early on the value of taking the highroad, and found it useful at times.
In my own thrashing about in deeper waters, I discovered riding the waves was an essential skill, and no one alive can teach you how to move through the impact of racism on your psyche.
Crying racism never served me. To do so, to cry, to be a victim would be plead to the waves to stop crashing. The truth that gulping-out, “I can’t breathe.” in the face of a choppy ocean, too chaotic for the rhythms of a black boy’s joy, was instinctive and ignorant to the oceans brand of relief.
Yes—crying racism hasn’t alleviated my pained, but it begins a curing process. Where most of us are taught to look to the stars in the sky for inspiration, affirmation, and discovery I’ve known the greatest discovery to come from diving deeper into briny oceans of self-doubt and learned self-hate. In this diving, in the acknowledgement, I am not dissolved by the process, I am preserved.
Racism is formless and vast, yet meant to ingulf the body and possesses the senses. Thus in this curing process, in the diving we are simply meant to mitigate decay and preserve the soul as the body and mind stumble in suspended space. Disassociation, a sense of vertigo is not only common during moments of racial conflict, but a natural response to the immense pressure of existing while being tacitly disenfranchised. On lookers sense it too, how achievable it is do nothing and watch nature in itself. Yet the Voyeurist and the disassociated share a similar trait. By observing and choosing detachment they’ve convinced themselves they aren’t in the same ocean as those observed and anchored to the conflict.
As my peers are gunned down and I myself am either shamed, shackled, and locked down, I harden on the surface and remain soft hearted as that is my nature. As tides turn so does our collective perspective on who is worthy of dignity. The motioning forwards and backwards is fatiguing; like swimming against the surface current it makes no sense tagging racism’s beginnings and ends, for that effort is as foolish as measuring the beginning and end of the ocean itself. Instead I seek to dive deeper, I seek to endure, I seek to tell the story of my soul and live the gospel of my body before it parishes.
I have found new bits of myself, found shards of authentic life, when I dive deep and trust my breath; I hook and bring to the surface joy-endured. Artifacts formed from the murky mix of salt, doubt and deceit. Polished and made whole from grace and patience, plucked from bottom with the intention of shining.
There are no roses in the ocean, no concrete to crack. Only shifting hopes lighting paths between dives. It’s never easy to tell the truth about racism. In fact many times I’ve chosen to drown in the past and remain silent for many reasons. Most of us sit by the shore and watch bodies tethered to the surface eventually falter in isolation, and never recover. All of us are artless in our fear of telling the truth, changing an outcome, or shifting our beliefs. It’s in our intention to live an authentic, self-loving life that we find our breath, and our voice. It’s in the way we listen that will ultimately change outcomes. And It is who we build communion with, those folks are the ones empowering us to unearth our righteous beliefs.
It is in those courageous conversations, that we still our ocean and see the gifts, touch stones glimmering all around us.
Mantra and Place I return to before diving in with courage: