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.