Postcard From North Carolina July 2023

example 1 example 2 newtag Jul 07, 2023

Greetings from North Carolina!

The summer solstice has brought the heat, y’all! And with it, I am sitting with the grand and muddled truths of living honestly with myself and others during end stage capitalism. Squeezing lemons for lemonade, watering seedlings and chewing on the question of what is possible?

Farmington, PA (elevation 1,800)


During my annual east coast drive, Ruben and I confronted the worst fog I have ever had to drive in, with visibility about 20 ft. We were on country roads (you know, avoid highways) and I was scared. My body was tight, my heart was beating, and I was sweating. The fog was not budging. My mind was racing: I am responsible for us, we need to keep moving, if I show him my fear he will never let me live it down… Pulling over and waiting was not an option. My anxiety (keep us safe, keep moving) and his excitement (this is so cool, wow) didn't feel compatible and I was growing irritated - couldn’t he see I was stressed?



Then something flickered in me - a recognition of the story I was telling and how the story was making it harder. My stress and fear had created a story so fast - and that story was putting distance between me and my son, and adding to my stress. 


I pulled over. I agreed it was amazing, magical and very cool. I told him I’d never seen anything like it. I looked at his face and took in all that he was teaching me. I slowed my breathing. I remembered the purpose for the road trip in the first place, to spend time together. And I unloaded my story. I traded it for a better one: remember that time we were driving in the mountains and the fog was so thick we had to pull over and just laugh at the magic of it all? 


How many times are we at work or at home or at the pool and we flip out because of our story? A perceived threat. The need to protect oneself. The story that we must do certain things in order to live, be ok, get promoted, make enough money. The story that I alone am responsible for the outcome and so I must make the perfect decision, now, in urgency. Luckily, we are unlearning that narrative - we are recognizing more and more that there are moments when we can find another story, adapt a more helpful mindset. . Find a more gentle path for ourselves and others. A more grounded mindset, one that asks us to slow down and be present to reality without making that reality the enemy. 


We got back on the road, driving slowly down the mountain, with visibility improving and the magic of those foggy woods receding into the past as quickly as they overcame us. I am grateful for the experience, for the chance to practice a different mindset even in my fear. Stress, anxiety and fear can shove me in some pretty hard places. I am learning that I can feel the fear without reacting from it. And I am at the beginning of this journey, a few years in and not strong on my feet - yet.




Often in my work with white people, the truth of racism is a scary fog - how to navigate it - what to do about it. We can feel helpless or unsure how to dismantle it. We don’t know what our role should be and we don’t want to experiment because mistakes seem unavoidable and costly.

White supremacy feels urgent because everyday we see how it’s killing black and brown people, wounding all of us, decimating the planet. We see the impact of profits over people and it’s easy to feel depressed for being stuck in a system that seems like our only option. And at the same time, that fog is not all encompassing - there are alternatives. And often white people have the power and influence to make different choices.

Oddly, I think my fog experience is a good teacher:

  1. Pull over: Slow down. Take it in. How can you calm yourself and your system to be regulated and helpful in the situation? Is the urgency real or perceived? What is needed to support people to feel safe, heard, and valued?
  2. See the Reality of Racism: Make sure you see the racism - how it’s impacting you, your team, the community/customers/clients/participants.
  3. Find Your Voice: How much influence or power do you have to help navigate the situation. What does leading look like in this moment? Asking a great question or making a suggestion?
  4. Who’s on your squad? Ask for help. Who are the players and what can they offer the situation? What kind of team effort can be made to shift this moment, project, meeting from one of colluding with racism to one of dismantling racism?
  5. Reflect and Learn: Once you’re down the mountain, how can you reflect on your journey and be more prepared for the fog next time?

These days are rough and frayed around the edges. We need our family and friends, our community more than ever. As you think about your resistance to racism, make sure you’re infusing that work with relationship building, self love and giant doses of pleasure.



Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars)

by Muriel Rukeyser 

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.



Provocations and Nourishment:


“When bosses are too invested in everyone getting along they also fail to encourage the people on their team to criticize one another other for fear of sowing discord. They create the kind of work environment where being "nice" is prioritized at the expense of critiquing and therefore improving actual performance.” I am late to the party as I delight in the work of Kim Scott on Radical Candor. I am reading it through the lens of dismantling racism by moving from Nice to Kind. She’s incredibly thoughtful and the book is as practical as can be. 



"Sometimes men want what they don't have because they don't have it. Even if everyone offered to share, they would only want the share that wasn't theirs. All of us are lonely at some point or another, no matter how many people surround us." 

From 'The Golem and the Jinni Novel' by Helene Wecker



Spiderman’s reaching for an antiracist future and I’m all on board. If you’re not already tracking the next wave of Spiderman, this article and this interview with author Jason Reynolds might be enough to get you in the theatre this month. Personally, I went for a chance to bond with my son (and the popcorn) and got a whole lot more. I am again reminded about how art and culture can show us a different way. And the themes of mentorship, family, loyalty and love abound throughout the battle for a whole and good future. 



Upcoming Opportunities


White folks! Don’t slog it alone - the work of anti-racism must happen in community. Join our Collective Liberation Racial Justice Caucus to work on your dreams for a better you and a better multiracial tomorrow. All proceeds go to fund a resiliency space for Black and brown folks. Register here.

Stumbling Towards Wholeness - a 4 part series for white Jewish women to explore racial justice and anti-semitism. Join me and Shira Concool for a deep and authentic dialogue on how to increase our chutzpah! 4 Thursday evenings in August. 

Michelle Cassandra Johnson’s Sanctuary coming up in July! Sanctuary is a day-long retreat for BIPOC to create sacred space, slow down, recover, and reconnect with our most authentic selves. This retreat will include contemplative practices such as meditation, movement, self-reflection, and journaling. 

Feedback can be a choking hazard - Whether it’s stuck in your throat because you haven’t expressed it, or because you can’t digest it, this workshop will walk you through the steps required to break that feedback down. Morgan Evans is doing fantastic work and this workshop is free of charge. 

Housing Justice and Allyship - Take this workshop to get clear on your personal values and how they influence where you live.



Organization of the Month 


Impact Collective - for white women with class privilege to explore how the economic system is designed to uphold the racial wealth gap, the disproportionate responsibility of white people within this system, and opportunities to activate their influence and affluence to close the racial wealth gap.



Collaborator of the of the Month



Danya Xena is the Co-Founder of Justice Movement, offering intersectional social justice training and consulting to level up your community or company as well as the Founder and Lead Instructor of the SuperHero Circus Academy and FemPower Acro, which hosts the FemPower Acro Fest.



Toward Justice,


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