White Supremacy? Black Lives Matter? Let’s Talk About Charlottesville

I was in Bali teaching a writing retreat the day of the United States Presidential election in 2016. For the first time in my life, I felt ashamed to be an American. When I first arrived in Bali, the taxi drivers would ask me where I was from and I’d say, “California.” They’d respond with things like, “Oh . . . naked naked sexy Hollywood.” I’d say, “No, not that California.” After the election, they’d ask where I’m from, I’d say “California,” and they’d say, “Ah . . . Donald Trump.”

Sigh.

Never before in my life have I ever considered leaving the United States. Maybe, I thought, my daughter, her father, and I could just move to Bali, put Siena in the Green School, and expatriate. I know every country has its problems, and I’m not naïve enough to think I wouldn’t run into all kinds of challenges in Bali, but I did entertain the idea.

After more consideration, I came home. Leaving my beloved country didn’t feel quite right either. It felt like a kind of escapism. Maybe, I considered, my country needs me as one of the many grounding forces of love, tolerance, and fierce love. Maybe it was my calling to use my platform and influence to speak out against polarization on both sides, to be a peacemaker, to preach the power of unconditional love and zero tolerance for hate, to ask Trump voters “What’s it like to be you?” and truly care about what motivated them to elect this president. Maybe instead of dividing into the left wing or right wing camps, I could be a voice for no camps.

In order to deal with my shock, grief, and anger, I planned my return to the US by taking my daughter on a tour of 12 National Parks, which represent the nature-soaked part of America that I love most. My daughter and I prayed in every National Park, praying for peace, praying that people on all sides would open their hearts and come together in love and unity. During that trip, I held in my heart the point of view my friend Charles Eisenstein wrote about in this brilliant blog about ending the story of separation that attracted Oprah’s attention and led to her inviting Charles to speak on Super Soul Sunday. Then I held on to my optimism and hoped for the best, feeling a kind of excitement that many allies in the revolution of love might be called out of complacency and into action.

All Lives Matter

Right now, in the wake of what just happened in Charlottesville, it is crystal clear that we are being called to come together. White, Black, Native American, or immigrant, all lives matter equally. Black lives matter. Native American lives matter. Immigrant lives matter. Muslim lives matter. Jewish lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter, and no one race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or political point of view matters more or less. I don’t get triggered, like many do, when African-Americans proclaim “Black Lives Matter.” Yes. They do. And if we need to call it out as a separate thing to make up for the intense traumas perpetrated even now against our African-American brothers and sisters, so be it. I don’t need to carry a picket sign claiming “White Lives Matter” because I know white lives matter in this country. It is very clear to me that I have benefited from the white privilege that comes from being a white girl raised in the South, where my adopted African-American sister was treated very differently than I was. It was clear to me that white privilege was not just about money or power or status. It was about my freedom to walk through a Georgia town without getting harassed by strangers, a freedom my sister did not have. I am happy to use my voice and my power to proclaim “Black Lives Matter,” because they do.

All Men Are Created Equal?

As Americans, I think it’s time that we stare deeply into an inconvenient truth. This country espouses equality and freedom and operates from a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution intended to uphold it that claims, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet, the inconvenient truth is that we are a country built upon white supremacy, a country without much apology about committing horrific acts of genocide and violations of personal freedom in the name of white privilege, a country that built itself upon the extermination and degradation of the Native American race and the theft of their land, a country whose founders were mostly slave owners.

In a Facebook Live video after the Charlottesville domestic terrorism attack, Brené Brown comes right out and says what is blatantly and painfully obvious, that America was built upon a foundation of white supremacy, that we give lip service to how all men are created equal, but that our actions have proved that we do not actually practice this ideal, even now. She also points out that we must must must talk about white privilege in the most pointed, uncomfortable, and honest way. (Watch the brilliant video here.)

When Donald Trump ran a campaign on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” what his campaign was really promoting was a return to white supremacy, a return to the white man’s dominance over other races, the female gender, religions that aren’t Christian, and LGBTQ sexual preferences. So why are we surprised that white supremacists are coming out of hiding and feeling emboldened to be more public with their hate? Why are we surprised that our President is blaming “both sides” for what happened in Charlottesville and only half-heartedly condemning the hatred, racism, and intolerance spewed by the white supremacists? Yes, we have a right to be outraged. We must speak out against hate groups. We must make our HELL NO clear and enforce consequences when domestic terrorism ensues. But make no mistake about it. Just because we voted for an African-American President doesn’t mean white privilege isn’t alive and well. If we don’t nip this in the bud, what is to stop us from recreating Nazi Germany?

Pain Underlies Our Polarization

When you listen to the rhetoric on both sides, it’s clear that there’s a deep pain underlying the triggered sentiments. I know I feel outraged. I was with my sister and her African-American boyfriend when we found out about the torch march in Charlottesville, and I found myself feeling the need to apologize on behalf of my race. I felt, as I have often felt, genuinely ashamed to be white. We were all grieving together as we watched the movies The Help and The Color Purple to remind ourselves what our African-American brothers and sisters have been through, so that we might never forget. I cried and cried through both movies. My friends, we cannot, simply cannot, forget where we’ve been.

Even still, I can’t bring myself to hate the haters. I don’t believe that some people are simply irredeemably evil and that the white supremacists rallying around my country can be written off as soulless, toxic, bad people. I have to believe that the white supremacists must be hurting, just like the counter-protesters are hurting, just like the African-Americans are hurting. I can only imagine that they were raised to hate, and that if I were raised the way they were, I might be one of those haters too.

It’s easy to get self-righteous, to congratulate myself and my progressive Marin County colleagues for being more enlightened (and therefore more good) than those white supremacists and the people who defend them. It would be easy to write them off as simply ignorant, repulsive, and disgusting. But I can’t quite bring myself to cling to some self-righteousness notion that casts me and my friends as noble defenders of love and truth and condemns white supremacists (or Trump voters in general) as irredeemably evil monsters that we must hate. As Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I’m not condoning evil, hateful, behavior or suggesting that we shouldn’t take a stand and try to stop it. I’m not supporting how our normally tweet-happy President spent days equivocating before finally coming out with a half-hearted condemnation of the white supremacists intolerable behavior. (Notice how quick he was to condemn the Islamic terrorist attack in Barcelona today, when a terrorist plowed into the crowd, killing 13 and injuring 100 more.) I’m also not trying to employ some kind of spiritual bypassing that uses spiritual platitudes like “It’s all good” or “It’s all an illusion” or “Everything happens for a reason” to bypass our despair, anger, dismay, and grief.

I’m only asking that when we get understandably triggered by hateful action, we notice our reactivity, pause, look deep into our hearts, and ask, “What would love do?” This is not a call for passivity. Love can be ferocious, like the fierce love of a Mama Bear protecting her cubs. But love cannot exist in the presence of hatred. Until we can come back to love, we will be powerless in our efforts to effect true transformation and healing.

Will Americans Stand for Love? 

The quest for Civil Right is not over. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Let us not delude ourselves into thinking we can make America great again by hating each other. Let us be willing to consider that, as much as we have achieved as a nation, perhaps America was never that great and that we as a country we are getting what we deserve as we become the laughing stock of the world, tumbling off our pedestal as a global superpower and showing ourselves for what we really have been all along—a greedy, materialistic, consumerist country built upon white supremacy, fueled by the military-industrial complex, ascending upon the aching backs of slave labor and global bullying, and willing to bomb anyone who doesn’t play nice with us in the corporate/oil sandbox. I still love my country, but I think we are outgrowing what our country has stood for. It is time to stand for love, reunion, and true equality.

As the story of who we are as a nation crumbles, things are getting intense, and if you’re even remotely sensitive, you’ll feel a hurting thing deep inside of you. This thing that is hurting is in need of healing.

Charles Eisenstein writes, “We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead. Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we’d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt. For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer. Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths, wandering aimlessly from “doctrine” to “doctrine”— and they have no idea what to do. Their haplessness and half-heartedness was plain to see in this election, their disbelief in their own propaganda, their cynicism. When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, you know its days are numbered. It is a shell with no engine, running on habit and momentum.”

The Trauma of Genocide

It is well known that the German people carry a legacy of shame that resulted from the “ethnic cleansing” of the Holocaust. In 1945, Carl Jung wrote an influential article about the German collective guilt, introducing the term “collective guilt” to the German people and asserting that, for German psychologist, “it will be one of the most important tasks of therapy to bring the Germans to recognize this guilt.” [Jeffrey K. Olick, Andrew J. Perrin (2010), Guilt and Defense, Harvard University Press, pp. 24–25.]

Although most white Germans alive today had nothing to do with murdering millions of innocent Jews and other minorities, there is still a generational wound among the German people that is still healing. At least the German people are trying to heal that Nazi wound, owning this collective guilt, making efforts to atone for the sins of their fathers and mothers, and trying to make amends. At least it is widely accepted that what happened in Nazi Germany was a crime against love.

Yet in the United States, the genocide that was perpetrated upon the Native Americans and the slavery and domestic terrorism aimed at African-Americans is still not fully owned, claimed, or healed. We are not doing a good enough job ending the trauma and making amends to our threatened immigrant brothers and sisters or standing with the innocent Muslim Americans who are subjected to racial profiling and hate crimes. As Americans and citizens of Planet Earth, we must come together and say, “Brothers and sisters, we are so so so sorry. Let us make it right.” Even if it means we must give up some of our white privilege and go overboard to help equalize matters, it is time for us to come together as One People. This doesn’t mean whites don’t have a right to get their needs met too. It means all lives truly do matter. It means we all need to take care of one another’s needs, to join our hearts and our resources and reclaim the tribe of the human race, without preference for race, gender, or sexual identity.

What Can We Do?

In a class I led yesterday about the Charlottesville terrorism, I asked an African-American physician and a Native American lawyer what those of us who have been on the receiving end of unfair levels of white privilege might do to help. The doctor said, “Befriend a person of color, not just as a token gesture. Really love someone of color. Get to know what it’s like to be them.” The lawyer echoed her suggestion. It might sound like a small thing, too small to make a difference. But maybe we can start there. Ask a Muslim person or a gay person or a Native American person or a Black person or a white male, “What is it like to be you?”

I think truth and reconciliation is in order. We need to talk about what hurts and listen generously to one another, even if it’s hard to listen to a hate-spewing KKK member or a self-righteous, pseudo-spiritual, abusive-to-the-abuser counter-protestor. We need to befriend people of different races and be curious when we ask, “What is it like to be you?” We need to listen. We need to feel their pain in our own hearts. We need to apologize, even if we didn’t personally perpetrate those crimes against humanity. We need to witness our own shadow parts, the parts we have disavowed and send into exile, the parts that might have grown into a white supremacist if we had been subjected to the same traumas and conditioning they were. We need to realize “There but by the grace of God go I.”

We need to tell our stories and hold space for those stories to be witnessed with generous openhearted care. We need to call upon our faith to comfort the scared parts in ourselves and use that inner security to look out for our brothers and sisters who feel unsafe right now. We need to be allies, even if it’s hard to resist the temptation to polarize.

Whether you’re one who has enjoyed the benefits of white privilege or one who feels victimized by your lack of it, let us come together—in love, in prayer, in shared intention. As this historic solar eclipse comes our way, let us join together with optimism and hope for unity as we all gaze upon the same sun and moon that shine their light and reflect the darkness within us all.

I love you all,

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30 Comments

  1. Violet Murphy

    Lissa, this article deeply touched my heart. I just want to thank you for the insightful reminders you share that guide me towards a wiser life. Don’t hate the haters. That’s a good one. My mother is currently visiting and she has been abusive to me all my life. I live with my grandparents now, and whenever she comes to visit I feel so much anger. But she uses threats to manipulate me. Sometimes this makes me an angry person and makes it hard for me to deal compassionately with the perpatrators of injustice. I’m still growing, slowly but surely. I understand I need to consistently choose love. Like Brene emphasized in the video you shared, shaming our enemies will not in any way affect positive change. Also, I just wanted to mention, my best friend is african american, and it’s true that it’s so important to get to know and understand the unique plight of african americans. They were stripped of their humanity in this country, and we have to make it loud and clear that they are our equals, in every way. Thanks so much again, and much love.

    Reply
  2. DeWitt Lobrano

    Evolution is a slow, slow process. Humans are barely evolved past their tree dwelling ancestors. Some are aware of higher energies, most are not. Most are still devouring the flesh of others. Time. Physical plane time is needed before humans evolve beyond being carnivores.

    Reply
  3. Lynette Kreidler

    Lissa,

    Thank you for clearly articulating what has been stirring in my heart for over a year! Thanks for your insight and courage. Now its time for me to take action and continue my life’s work to build bridges.

    Reply
  4. Kristi Helvig

    This is a beautiful post. It’s interesting because as devastated as I was at the time of the election and in the months afterward, a wise friend reminded me that sometimes things like this need to happen for true healing to occur. The fact that all this ugliness has come out means it was under the surface all along anyway, and sometimes, things need to surface and get worse before they can be resolved. It’s not to say I don’t feel sick about the ways in which it surfaces, but I truly have faith that love will prevail in the end.

    Reply
  5. Jerome Freedman

    Lissa: This is an excellent teaching. It is no longer “us” against “them.” It’s just “US,” and I mean all sentient beings. We all live on one planet and get 100% of our energy from our star – the sun. We have no place to go, Everyone wants happiness and avoid suffering. All these separate groups you mentioned share only one place to live. They need to “awaken from the illusion of separateness,” as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says. They have to realize that the separation was created for one thing and on thing only – for one group to dominate over another. Please sign the Declaration of Interdependence!

    https://mountainsangha.org/the-declaration-of-interdependence/

    Reply
  6. Kelly Dimond

    Well said. Beautiful! Thank You!

    Reply
  7. Patty Zavacky Bost

    OUTSTANDING and WELL SAID……this is a WAKE UP CALL to all of us!!!!

    Reply
  8. Jim Wohlford

    Indeed Lissa this is one of the ‘Best’ pieces of writing you’ve done! <3
    You are expressing the Heart and Soul of so many of 'Us'.
    Much love to you and us all my Sister!!! <3 xoxo

    Reply
  9. JP

    Run for president next time ,your words are so profoundly true .
    Does a blind /deaf person suffer from being racist .
    These are all things taught as we are not born this way ,all equall .

    Reply
  10. lifeinrightdirection

    Lissa, I really like your article and especially the line “it is crystal clear that we are being called to come together”. I think this is what’s happening in the world today – as a global population we’re coming to realise that we are all together and that’s the only positive way to proceed, however, such realisation doesn’t come without problems. There are pockets of resistance that can be very nasty and saddening, like the last stages of denial, but we are on a clear path to becoming a peaceful, united humankind. If we can see beyond the resistance (which can be very shocking and sad), the underlying movement of the world is exciting.

    Thanks so much for your article.

    Reply
  11. debracohen

    Thank you so much for this! It brought tears to my eyes and renewed hope to my soul. A much needed perspective, and I will share…

    Reply
  12. Leah

    I cannot express my deep gratitude for this beautifully written piece. At times I bury my head in the sand, a type of self preservation, but that isn’t fair either. It’s time to wake up and spread love. From the bottom of my heart thank you for writing this. I feel more hopeful than I have in some time.

    Reply
  13. Rebecca Stahl

    Thank you, Lissa. I feel it is vitally important for me to tell you how deeply touched I am by this post. I have been feeling and thinking similarly for a week now without the means to really put it into writing. The beauty of your words and your pain, our shared pain, is desperately needed at this time. Many thanks for sharing yourself so beautifully.

    Reply
  14. Lissa_Rankin

    Thank you all for your kind comments. It’s always a bit scary for me to speak publicly about topics that can be so polarizing. Thank you for helping me feel safe to do so.

    Reply
  15. Karen Black

    I just barely finished your book “the Fear Cure” about a week ago, feeling like there’s hope for my psyche; at last I have a psychological piper to follow outta hell. BUT, today’s email from you has crushed my hopes. THIS platform for healing us, the bent and broken brains, is NOT a soapbox from which you spew hatred of our president and his supporters. Shame on you taking advantage of this audience you purport to help! You can’t be trusted with my mental well-being. If ever I was on the sides of extremism I’d burn books, starting with yours.
    You pushed me away — how dare you abuse your position. Medical ethics, bah!!

    Reply
  16. Donna Workman

    Lissa I love the fair mindedness. I heard and felt the agony, intensity, and pain in every thing I have read since Charlottesville, but the fair minded resolve has often been missing. Martin Luther King was right hate cannot heal hate only love can. Thanks for reminding us

    Reply
  17. Zanna Johnson

    I am appalled. It has been nearly one year since the election and you continue to spew your negative views. It is rhetoric like this that perpetuates the divide. I cannot say that I have been happy with the results of all elections but I move on with a prayer of love and guidance for the winner. Anger begets anger and we all lose. Bad or good/wrong or right have no color. The color comes from the prevailing sense of entitlement that society continues to spread. Every individual chooses each day, their thoughts, words and actions. They can dwell in the past or make a better future. Be grateful for their blessings or complain about what they don’t have. Accept responsibility or lay blame upon others. I agree, coming together is the answer. Perhaps a start would be…..”Do onto others as you would have them do onto to you”. You are in my prayers.

    Reply
    • Lissa_Rankin

      Dear Zanna,
      Can you explain to me what you mean by “you continue to spew your negative views?” What in this article makes you say “anger begets anger?” Do you think I’m angry? I’m not trying to be defensive. I’m just trying to understand how my attempt to spread a message against hating each other can be interpreted as negative. Thanks for your feedback. If you can help me understand what is triggering in my messaging and how you perceive it as angry or negative, you can help me express myself more lovingly. I appreciate you.

      Reply
      • Terry

        I’m not sure she read the same article I did, or was replying to something else?

        Reply
  18. Gayook

    As a POC, I thank you for speaking up and out for the horror that was Charlottesville, although I can’t say that I am surprised that this is happening with the way the campaign and now the presidency is being run. While it does not look like Asian-Americans are being targeted at this time, it is never far from my mind that we could very well be if this hate continues to explode. I have experienced overt as well as covert racism throughout my life, the only time I wasn’t was when I lived in Hawaii for 9 years. Yet, the incarceration of patriotic Japanese-Americans was not that long ago, and the fear surfaces that this racism could come back to me and mine. I am, therefore, very grateful that you, Brené, and other white allies are speaking up. I believe that it will be support by the allies such as you will be the determining factor in how this plays out. I commend and thank you for your courage in speaking up for equality for all of us.

    Reply
  19. Lissa_Rankin

    My uncle Larry Rankin, a Methodist pastor, sent this to me in response to my blog. I asked for his permission to share it:

    1968 was a horrific year. The events tore our nation apart and we have yet to recover. It began with the Vietnam Nan Tet offensive, with the highest casualties on both sides. In April, Martin Luther King was assassinated. The riots that followed left cities, especially Detroit like war zones with 100’s of dead and wounded. Bobby Kennedy next in June. I was a 20 year old at Emory College. I remember the awful feeling of hopelessness and anger among so many of us. Young men in fear of being drafted, the mutual mistrust between the races. That fall, a friend invited me to Trinity United Methodist Church, downtown Atlanta, in the heart of the mostly black, poor and disenfranchised community, living in crowded public housing a few blocks away. The church integrated a few months before. Half of the old, privileged members left with their money. Local blacks, mostly youth began coming. Middle and upper middle class people from suburbs drove 20 miles to experience the unity that was emerging and seek answers, to first discover and then deal with their unearned privilege. That language didn’t exist then), yet it happened with people with diverse backgrounds, worshipping, talking, and eating together. I was hooked and joined. So was Trudy a year later. We stayed for 5 years, until we moved to Florida. Trinity became the incubator for addressing all the issues you mention, Lissa, including white privilege. Trinity was the safe place where people across the rainbow met together to experiment building the beloved community as Martin King taught us. It was not idealistic, nor perfect. It was messy- trial and error. There were many failures and disappointments.
    Did we succeed in passing on what we learned and lived? Probably not in the broader community. Yet later I discovered that there many other communities struggling to live MLK’s dream. One them is the Sojourners community that has had reached over a 1k churches across the nation. They were founded in 1968. Jim Wallis is the editor of Sojourners magazine based in DC- http://www.sojonet.org.
    Perhaps our generation didn’t do a good job of passing on what we learned at Trinity to the generations that followed. Yet, more incubators for widening the beloved community are there, if only all people of good will of all faiths tap into resources right in their communities. Racism is taught, so is inclusiveness and love in action. White privilege is pervasive in the United States as you write, Lissa. Unveiling our unearned privilege happens as we meet and become friends with people across the racial divide. When we attempt to build the beloved community and Blue Zones, then love, hope and intentional action become reality for the transformation of the nation and the world, one person, one community at a time.

    A couple of years ago, I met with clergy friends at a retirement party. We realized that most of us had served at Trinity while at seminary, at one time and or another. We reminisced how Trinity was our incubator for the ministries and churches we would lead– and what we had experienced at Trinity almost 50 years ago, passed on, collectively, since we were there. We all were transformed because we encountered the resurrected Christ there. It blew our minds, as we used to say then.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Stahl

      This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
  20. Terry

    Thank you for this much-needed article! You voice what many of us feel.

    Reply
  21. Kurt

    Lissa,
    I so appreciate all you have done to build love into the hearts of your followers including me. My life has been made so much better by your daily inspirirations and your books. That is why I think you would want me to share why I think your post is somewhat polarizing in a way you did not intend. When you point out that America was built on white supremist values that statement is both true and misleading. It is true in that it can be supported with facts. But it is misleading in that it ignores so much of the goodness and love that is also part of our history. The assumption that the Trump slogan “Make America Great Again” is a return to white supremacy is likewise misleading and serves to incite suspicion in the half of America that voted for him. I’m sure when you think of the greatness in your own parents and grandparents that does not include any racist views they may have held. There is all sorts of greatness in our past and that does not include their greater tolerance for racism that previous generations held. i don’t think your intention was to devide people into camps calling Trump supporters those who would return to white supremacist values and insight suspicion in an us vs them way. I assume your intention was to show that we should be sensitive to the hurt caused by our operating without care in a world that still prefers one race over another. So yes the truth is racism is still a part of our ways but so is love, and I firmly believe that the answer is more love. What starts out as love toward the “other side” becomes love for all until there is no other side. So no matter what side seems most foreign to us the truth is they are us and we are in need of love. Clearly that does not mean we can tolerate violence and killing, but boundary setting is not the absence of love.

    Reply
    • Lissa_Rankin

      Dear Kurt,
      Thank you for taking the time to speak out about what you think might be polarizing here. I come from a family of doctors and missionaries that has been part of the white privileged patriarchal system, and they supported it unwittingly, operating under the belief that indigenous people and others who are not Christian need to be converted. Now they are changing their tune, but only because we are talking about the subtle ways that racism and Christian supremacy operates underground. It is not my intention to polarize- only to ask each of us to self-reflect and get really honest with ourselves about whether we are really participating in a culture that allows all people to be equal.

      This is not to suggest that there isn’t love in this country. In fact, I was surrounded by the love of my spiritual community just this morning. There is a great deal of love all around us, and I agree that the answer is more love. But I also think we need to talk about what isn’t love- and the intolerance that is being voiced on both sides of the right/left divide is making things worse. I do not intend to be a part of that divide, but I also can’t agree with our president suggesting that “both sides” are responsible for the polarization. Hate groups and those who protest against them are not equal in my view. Sometimes love requires fierce love, and we can say no to hate without hating the hate.

      Reply
  22. Maria Eugenia Velasco

    I love this post so much. I am from Venezuela, where natives were displaced, their lands expropriated, their cultures destroyed, slavery was established and when finally abolished racism thrived and still does, most people in prison are black and most poor are black or darker skin, very few darker skinned are well off. We the less dark skinned have not compensated for the historical imbalances materially, have not changed our mental biases, and have not acknowledged the gap in opportunities, the unfairness of this path, and being a mixed race, we are actually all a bit of both victims and perpetrators… we think time has simply erased the violent history. I live in Europe for very long now and dealing with the wave of immigrants from the Middle East, many of them seem to be young men, and honestly, with the violence perpetrated, I don’t feel comfortable with this new landscape. I am becoming more fearful of them, of what crime might happen any day (I have bought and read Lissa’s wonderful book, but shall study it again). It is a great idea to gently approach ‘the other’ to try to see their humanity. The cultural divide can be truly enormous, due to their view of women and in some cases it is totally wrong. But some might be more open.

    Reply
    • Lissa_Rankin

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Maria. I was just yesterday sitting in a ritual circle during the solar eclipse with a German man who admitted that he found himself feeling quite racist in the midst of the wave of Muslim immigrants in his native land. He said that it’s not that he can’t love and accept Muslims in his country; it’s that he feels like Germany is losing its heritage, that the landscape of Europe doesn’t look or feel the way it used to and he feels loss, the loss of the familiar amidst a great sea of change. I appreciated him admitting what was going on inside of him. He felt ashamed of this racism, but also torn, because he loves Germany. He also said it’s hard to accept that when he was younger (in the 1950’s), he was Top Dog. As a privileged white man, he had all the power and opportunity in the world. Now, he said, I have to compete with women and immigrants. The playing field is becoming more equal and he feels sad to have lost some of his privilege, even as he knows morally that it’s the right sea change, that others deserve that privilege too.

      He helped me understand how some of these “white nationalists” might be feeling. Maybe they are scared, they are grieving at how things are changing and they are clinging to a past that is outdated, but perhaps sweet with some nostalgia for the privileged class. Of course, to fully feel as he felt requires a level of denial, an ability to numb oneself from how the “others” feel, a capacity to shut off empathy and focus solely on self. But still, we feel what we feel. I think he will feel and heal because he is being honest and seeking support in community. This will help him adjust to the change more so than a white nationalist rally will. He gave me hope. So do you.

      Love
      Lissa

      Reply
  23. Richard Lohaus

    Thank you Dr. Rankin, for a moving and well written post. Being a friend to someone with a different background resonates with me as worthy of my limited time.

    Reply
  24. Newton Finn

    One of the most radical actions one can take at this moment in history is to return to the late 19th Century, when a man named Edward Bellamy, in his “Looking Backward” and “Equality,” laid out in concrete and vivid detail what an American society would look like if it were based on the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence and the Golden Rule. While his 19th Century vision is in need of some 21st Century updating, there has never been given to the human race a clearer and firmer philosophical foundation upon which to build a humane and sustainable civilization. And Bellamy delivers his gift with the kind of elemental, self-evident common sense that could spread like wildfire and burn away all barriers to a better, more beautiful world. Best of all, no fundamental change in human nature is required, a precondition that undermines most other Utopian thought. If you’re willing to accept this invitation to get to know Bellamy, please start by reading him, not what others have said about him. I think that both “Looking Backward” and the sequel, “Equality,” are free on the net.

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  25. Doug Wallace

    Finally, some calm compassion 🙂

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