excerpt from “The Will to Change” by Adrienne Rich

PART I

11/69-2/70

1.

We were bound on the wheel of an endless conversation.

Inside this shell, a tide waiting for someone to enter.

A monologue waiting for you to interrupt it.

A man wading into the surf. The dialogue of the rock with the breaker.

The wave changed instantly by the rock; the rock changed by the wave returning over and over.

The dialogue that lasts all night or a whole lifetime.

A conversation of sounds melting constantly into rhythms.

A shell waiting for you to listen.

A tide that ebbs and flows against a deserted continent.

A cycle whose rhythm begins to change the meanings of words.

A wheel of blinding waves of light, the spokes pulsing out from where we hang together in the turning of an endless conversation.

The meaning that searches for its word like a hermit crab.

A monologue that waits for one listener.

An ear filled with one sound only.

A shell penetrated by meaning.

For all the fallen angels of the Black Lives Matter Civil and Human Rights Movement of 2020, your life has meaning. You are not forgotten.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 4): Cultivating Compassion

The work of unlearning oppression requires us to turn inward and listen. We must turn off the TV. Silence the radio. Cease all chatter–daily if possible. The work of healing begins with diagnostic work. We must have the courage to sit alone in quiet contemplation to open our hearts and minds to possibility. We can transform any moment with our actions, our body language and our behavior. And yet, without awareness and compassion we are blind to the messages we send and unreceptive to incoming signals. We need lovingkindness in the form of compassion to awaken our understanding and transform the future.

A common response to the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests is that people–so-called looters and rioters–are breaking things. This stance, at once negates the underlying causes of this civil unrest, while creating a false dichotomy about the motivations of protestor. In truth, the protesting represents our collective indignity over the sustained slavery-era violence against people with dark skin in America. Essentially, skin color is a unilaterally imposed death sentence to any man, woman or child who is caught by a person with internalized white rage and white supremacist ideology that devalues us. How then, can we transform this internalized oppression? Only by looking inward at the judgment of inhumanity for dark-skinned people living in America can we heal our nation.

Lesson 4: Dedicate 10-60 minutes a day for the next week to meditation, prayer, writing or contemplation on the following question: How would you feel if your father, brother or son was killed while going to the store for milk? Discuss your feeling, insights and questions with your family. Reflect on how many black fathers, brothers and sons do not return with the milk, and why.

When we see one another as we truly are, we will truly love one another.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 3): Allies for Justice

We see daily that we each much choose a side. There are no bystanders in this moment. Coronavirus in the form Covid-19 ravishes our community on one side, while systemic oppression and white supremacists devour our Black flesh in the light of day. Long prey to the economic hungers of Jim Crow America, we can no longer sit quietly with our own sustained hunger, historical discriminatory unemployment, political disenfranchisement and continued enslavement through mass incarceration, we stand up for our lynched and murdered Black Americans. We simply say, “No more!” Now, we need support from our allies.

Don’t make excuses. If you don’t know any people of color, start reaching out with kindness. Treat us like humans. Don’t pretend you don’t see the news. Black people in America are in need of support. We need to know that White-Americans believe in our humanity and our right to live without daily enactments of violence upon our bodies. We need to know that White Americans do not condone  someone sitting on our father’s neck until he dies. We need to see White Americans outraged because our son was shot down for sport during a jog in his neighborhood. We need to hear words, see actions that unequivocally demonstrate that White Americans will not tolerate the innocent slaughter of our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, elders and children in our own homes, yards and cars.

Lesson 3: Practice showing up for people of color. Look us in the eye. Ask our name. Listen. Ask what you can do. Do what you can support your neighbors, coworkers and extended community who aren’t white. Accept whatever comes with grace and compassion. Keep showing up until you are successful.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 2): Breathing into Fairness

Covid-19, civil unrest and curfew means we are in our homes. Miraculously, many formerly house-less people are sheltered. This is a good time for unlearning racism, by examining closely the root of this tree. California passed the Unruh Civil Rights Act (No Discrimination in Business in 1988, to try to prevent steering and blockbusting. “All person within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, they are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever…” (California Real Estate Practice, 9th).

Part of the Dialectial Behavior Therapy approach to dis-ease to undertake to change our thinking patterns. You practice the action that embodies the thinking, while staying in contact with your body and the present moment. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that when we touch deeply the present, we can transform the past and the future. In essence, our awareness, our attention and our love can transform our reality–for the better.

I started this practice of looking inward in my early twenties. As imperfect as I am, as we all are, I’ve worked to not repeat the same mistakes. I try to grow, do better and master myself. Yet, mastering oneself requires intimacy, silence and introspection:

Lesson 2: Meditate, pray, study, journal or contemplate the Unruh Civil rights Act implemented in California seeking to understand the root necessity of such legislation. Why was this legislation necessary? What are the consequences of steering and blockbusting to the families involved? Spend 10-20 minutes daily on these questions.

Who we are as a people is defined by our actions. Our deeds in the world will inspire awe and be remembered-no matter what we do. Only by looking deeply into the present, can we unlearn the unspoken. We are taught to look past and through one another. Together we can unlearn the damaging ideologies that puts a value on skin color and enforces that projected vale with systemic violence. It’s time to heal. It’s time to do the hard work or turning inward, in silence and loving kindness, a Gift of the Spirit.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 1): The Practice of Inclusion

I’m not going to repeat everything you already know about the national protests about the executions of innocent black people. What I will do is what I’ve been trained to do: Educate. It’s obvious that people need to learn how to change ineffective behavior that perpetuates dehumanizing oppression that manifests in sexism and racism.

There is a fundamental othering that occurs in enactments of oppression. It says that some of us belong and others do not. These lines are arbitrary, drawn upon personal privilege, individualism and systemic-historical rewards for the same behaviors. Racism in American society manifests as:

  • Discrimination in hiring, medical care and financial services
  • Poverty and poor educational services
  • Violence and aggression directed toward Black, Latinx, Native American and Asian men, women and children

The question arises: Can we end and unlearn the internalized violence and aggression that accompany oppression? The answer is yes. Similar to treating mental-health disorders, racism and other forms of oppression can be treated using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) techniques. One simply way to begin to unlearn the thinking behind the action is simply to change your actions to include us. Try this simple strategy:

LESSON 1: Never ask a Black, Latinx, Native American or Asian man, woman or child, “How did you get in here?” unless you are in your private residence, hotel or car.

This simple technique will help you understand that public spaces like Starbucks, banks, college campuses, libraries and parks belong to everyone. No one need ask you for personal permission to co-exist in society. These are rightfully shared spaces. By practicing mindfulness and refraining for exclusionary language, we can begin to mend the historic rift tearing our nation apart. We all belong. Do your part to make sure we all feel included.

Dear Teenagers, (An open Letter)

I am doing this for you and every American teenager who has to miss so many important moments in order to keep your family safe. For every teenager who will VOTE the very first time on November 3, 2020, I want to make sure that wherever you are, without compromising your safety and with the confidence that your voice matters, because it does, that you can vote.

First, you have to make sure you can vote:

  1. Every US Citizen who is or will be 18 years of age on or before Election Day, has the right to vote. Learn more here: https://www.usa.gov/who-can-vote.
  2. Next, you must REGISTER to VOTE. Here is the link for you to RESGISTER TO VOTE while staying Safe at Home: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote
  3. Learn about what offices will be on the ballot in your community.
  4. VOTE! Election Day for the nation is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

My husband and I think of and discuss you young people each day. We see the tremendous sacrifice you’re making for your family and community. You should be proud of yourself. It takes personal power to delay gratification for another year. Your courage inspires me. I also recognize that this is a very important time of your life. I wish you all the best, sincerely. May you thrive and find joy where you are. I hope you discover your real strength and get to know yourself well. That’s magic at any age. And, I hope you vote this year. Voting is one of the most important thresholds into adulthood that you can cross. Voting requires advanced planning, critical thinking and education. You matter. Make this year extra special.

Dear US Representative, (An Open Letter)

We the People need your help to ensure that EACH AND EVERY US Citizen can cast a vote this November. We understand that we will not likely have a cure for COVID-19 by November 2020, we can only slow the spread. Therefore, we need to have a plan to VOTE-BY-MAIL before November 3, 2020 so that every American Citizen can vote.

How long would it take you to fire a teacher who told your child to drink bleach or Lysol? Trump’s actions in the White House are reprehensible and unacceptable to most of us. We the people want to fire him as soon as possible. That means that EVERY state in the US needs to have a VOTE-BY-MAIL option by November 3, 2020 so that American Citizens can vote him out of office.

Bottom line: The Presidential Election is Tue. Nov. 3rd. We need VOTE-BY-MAIL in all 50 states. Pre-emptively, let’s discuss the “Fraud Argument” often brought up by Republicans to DISENFRANCHISE PEOPLE OF COLOR from our right to vote. Congress Person, we the people are smart enough to figure out how to have a valid and fair election. Just in case, here are my considered solutions:

  1. Countless US Citizens Abroad have voted with the Absentee Ballot from overseas and military bases for decades. through Absentee Voting. We’ve never had a problem. We know it works.
  2. Perform an accurate 2020 Census. If you want to know how many citizens there are in each county, COUNT US ALL in the 2020 Census. After that, you can stop counting votes when they hit that magic number.
  3. Create a new VOTE-BY-MAIL option for November 3, 2020. This requires we keep the United States Postal Service (USPS) open for business. Trump is already trying to shut the USPS, the most egalitarian institution the American people have.
  4. A VOTE-BY-MAIL option is Russia and cyber-tampering proof.

Fascism, Racism, hate-mongering and blatant stupidity are unacceptable methods of running the United States of America. The world is watching us. We are failing our children. WE THE PEOPLE, DEMAND ALL CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES WORK TOGETHER TO ENSURE A VALID, FAIR ELECTION NOVEMBER 3, 2020. We elected you to support us. Get to work. We deserve better.

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Demanding Democracy,

All US Citizens

 

 

 

 

 

Get in Touch with your representatives:

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 224-3121
TTY: (202)-225-1904

Tell them LA County is leading the way! https://patch.com/california/pacificpalisades/all-la-county-registered-voters-get-mail-ballots