Postcard from North Carolina - September 2023Sep 06, 2023
“You have really good energy!”
This phrase has shadowed me throughout my life. Friends to be, strangers in retail situations, yoga instructors, participants, colleagues often tell me about my good energy. And, I think I know what people mean by it: that I am friendly, I seem like someone you can talk to, I would be a presidential candidate you could imagine having a beer with.
There is energy in everything and everyone - most of us seem to have some implicit understanding of what it feels like to encounter good energy or bad energy - a vibe, a mood that might accompany a person or a place. I don’t have a lot of back up from the stars or the ancestors for what comprises the quality of certain energies. I think we just use our intuition, like dogs or children.
Some reflections on energy:
Some situations vibe invitational and some repel.
How do race or class affect my discernment - how much good energy is a proxy for familiarity? Or perhaps, a spectrum of non threatening to threat?
Oppression - sexism, racism, trans and homophobia, ableism could be viewed as negative energy that hardens into law, into policies, into cultural practice that thrives on exclusion. This bad energy fuels structures and systems that demean, hurt, and eventually kill. We live with an economy everyday that chooses profit over people. Too many of us have voted this bad energy into being, into sustained racialized capitalism.
The experience of liberation is about an energy that builds, supports, creates space. But let’s not mistake this “good energy” for constant positivity or spiritual bypassing.
The good energy of collective liberation is about creating spaces that can hold our multiple truths. A conversation or space that hoors both our history of trauma and our dreams. As a facilitator who is committed to that kind of good energy it’s not about positivity. And it’s not about obsessing about pain. We can be honest and truthful about our hurts without dwelling there indefinitely. When I think about spaces having good energy - that conversation, workshop, relationship, organization is one that is energetically abundant- that doesn’t need to contract at the mere mention of pain. Good energy can hold pain - bend without breaking.
When that zoom room full of soil scientists needed us to define “collective liberation” I wondered about the power of intuition. Couldn’t they discern what we meant by collective liberation? We asked them what they felt in their bodies when they reflected on the phrase. We made some headway.
- Could collective liberation be good energy made manifest in policies, practice, law?
I have had friendships that could withstand a deep conflict and others where the lines were drawn and the goodbyes were said (or not).
Places carry a lot of energy for me - both in nature and in buildings, I can often feel the energy of a space. Many of us do. We feel a certain attraction or repulsion from spaces. That is us using our intuition. We can call it different things… it’s energy.
Authentic energy is good energy - this is a space that can expand and hold. Good energy inspires me and others to become our future selves.
The work of regenerating and creating good energy is consuming. It’s not easy or painless to keep manifesting authenticity.
Money is energy. Some form of what we get back for our work is in the form of money-energy. And some of what we receive is the energy of respect or feeling valued. My mom referred to this as the “psychological paycheck.” Both the feeling of being valued and the material payment are energies, combining to support the labor. How many of us are sacrificing the material for psychological satisfaction or vice versa?
When my mother was dying, I felt a shift in her energy, I could sense she was leaving this plane months before she actually passed. I saw it in her eyes, I felt it in her energy.
In all our relationships, energy is exchanged. People drain us or fill us up, or maybe they’re energetically neutral.
Over the years, I have tried to limit the people who drain me and focus on deepening connections with people who fill me up.
As a good energy person, I have had to be careful to not feel taken for granted - I am not your energizer bunny or your party favor or the balm for your crisis. I have learned to protect, manage and support my own energy so I can be more intentional about the where and the how.
How can I listen more carefully to the energy of a place, a situation, a person?
Energy reading and responding happens at the level of the body. It is my animal self navigating through the energies of the world. White supremacy culture works actively to separate me from my animal self.
I want to be more porous and more protected at the same time. I want my good energy to help me make sense of complexity.
Poem of the Month
By KIMIKO HAHN
things don't die or remain damaged
but return: stumps grow back hands,
a head reconnects to a neck,
a whole corpse rises blushing and newly elastic.
Later this vision is not True:
the grandmother remains dead
not hibernating in a wolf's belly.
Or the blue parakeet does not return
from the little grave in the fern garden
though one may wake in the morning
thinking mother's call is the bird.
Or maybe the bird is with grandmother
inside light. Or grandmother was the bird
and is now the dog
gnawing on the chair leg.
Where do the gone things go
when the child is old enough
to walk herself to school,
her playmates already
pumping so high the swing hiccups?
-Kimiko Hahn, "In Childhood" from The Artist’s Daughter. Copyright © 2022 by Kimiko Hahn.
Provocations and Nourishment
- What is the national energy of the US in the world when it comes to abolition? Let’s agree that it’s not okay anymore to say “I just don’t understand what abolition is….” We must find ways to understand. Over and Over again until it’s like cooking a meal. We just know how.
- Rethinking Incarceration | Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University
- Four Insights for Radical Organizing From the Mysterious World of Mushrooms | Truthout
Michelle Johnson’s Podcast, Finding Refuge! “Pure fire! I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Cara Page and Erica Woodland, co-editors of Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation.”
White People, My People is now an Online course! Y’all! I have metabolized all my experience and wisdom around antiracism into a 3 part course. It’s self-paced and fabulous. Use the discount code WPMP25 for 25% off!
Genealogy through a racial justice lens - All white and white presenting folks welcome! Seeing the Forest: Reckoning with Our Roots for a Racially Just Future
Michelle Johnson has a bunch of awesome opportunities coming up. Check out her affinity group for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color here.
Shifting Power with Purpose: Strategy + Skills for white folks to practice anti-racism at work EM Morrison is offering a powerful space for white folks to get practical and real. Check it out!
Chris Crass is offering a coaching group for white men: “Leadership coaching for social justice leaders/ministers/union organizers/directors/community organizers, who want a space of support and nourishment to think through situations/experiences, and strategize on moving forward. Online and I’ve got a few spots open, if you or someone you know is interested. Let’s build!” contact Chris: [email protected]
Organization of the Month: Hope in a Box
With a record number of anti-LGBTQ legislative efforts happening across our nation - we must support LGBTQ identified students and families. Hope in a Box is distributing books to teachers so that adults and students can teach and learn LGBTQ stories.
Badass Human of the Month
Do you need strategic advice about marketing and making a difference? Check out my friend Salaams: https://www.wegooakland.com/services