The Spirit tells me it is time for a reset.
My whole life I have tried to protect Mother Earth. Live without a car, live in small apartments, protect the water. Protect us from pipelines and other fossil fuel projects. Organize nonviolent direct actions.
I learned what I could about the many atrocities related to enslavement, land theft, and cultural genocide here and globally. White people must learn these things, which are not taught in our schools. White people must learn the dynamics of the forces that perpetuate these injustices before we can have meaningful interactions with those subjected to these injustices. Injustices which resulted, and continue to result in all kinds of trauma, genocide, suicide and death.
I followed Spiritual leadings to develop connections to communities of black, indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC).
Time and again, I found progress for justice only happens when white people such as myself spend a great deal of time in the communities where justice is needed. And by listening closely to, following the leadership of the people in those communities. White and BIPOC folks need to get to know each other before trust can begin to be built. That takes a long time of intentional work by all, in the presence of each other. This is not an intellectual exercise. This does not happen remotely.
Time and again, I have learned the root causes of injustice in this country are colonial capitalism and white supremacy. And the reasons I’ve been making changes in my life are because the white communities I have lived in have refused to break free from capitalism and white supremacy. White people are corrupted by the many advantages they enjoy.
It has been traumatic to find even my Quaker community, which is nearly entirely white, has not had the courage to break free from capitalism and white supremacy. People who have in many ways inspired me by their concerns for peace and justice. But, as with all white communities, no progress toward justice occurs when we are afraid to leave the frameworks that cause the injustice. It should be no surprise that few BIPOC people join us, much as we appreciate those who do. I have caused hurt and harm in my interactions with BIPOC Friends. Another reason I’ve been spending time in diverse communities.
The recent news of 215 Kamloops Native children buried on the grounds of a residential school has shocked non-native people, who did not know how many of these residential schools existed in the lands called the United States and Canada. Did not know tens of thousands of Native children were forcibly removed from their families and taken to these institutions where thousands were abused in many ways. Thousands killed or died. Though the stated reason for doing this was to assimilate Native children into white society for their benefit, the real intent was to quell Indigenous resistance to the theft of their land by white settler colonists.
The news has re-opened deep wounds in Native communities. Many have been triggered by this atrocity. One of my Native friends wrote that she was NOT OK. Another told me, “I’m trying not to be enraged in my mourning.”
One of my Native friends also told me, “The church is the church’s past, which is its future. It continues to see my people as obstacles in its endless conquest. To be blunt, there is too much damage that the church profits from and needs to protect to have any future there.” I have come to believe that. Vigorous attempts are made to hide it, but history does not lie. He also told me, “I wish you the best. I imagine its a hard struggle.”
I cannot face my BIPOC friends if I don’t continue to dedicate myself to seek the Spirit, and acting on the leadings I am given. “Don’t make orphans stand here covered in the blood of our parents and explain to you how this all came to be without doing something about it.“
When I ask my Native friends how white people can help them, they say one word, “LANDBACK”. The video below is a very good introduction to that concept. And the diagram below is the current version I’ve been working on to summarize the relationships I see among these concepts.
In that diagram you see Mutual Aid as a branch of a possible way forward. Mutual Aid communities are based on the principle of a horizontal, flat hierarchy, a way that rejects the vertical hierarchy of white societies. There can not be white supremacy if their isn’t a structure of some people somehow being above others. White people who are looking for ways to leave capitalism and white supremacy should look for Mutual Aid communities near them. But only if you have done some research ahead of time. Only if you are determined to not bring the attitude of white supremacy with you. Only if you are prepared to be led by the example of others. Only if you come as a student. Only if you are committed to change in your life. See: “mutual aid” | Search Results | Quakers, social justice and revolution (jeffkisling.com)
I think we all know we live with significant injustices. I believe most white people know we need to change. Unfortunately my observation is most white people are afraid of change. But we don’t have a choice. Significant change is upon us, and will continue to deepen and accelerate, driven by environmental chaos and the economic and political consequences of that. All the more reason to build better, just communities now. As the video below explains, we need Indigenous leadership to guide us through environmental chaos.
I’m not yet sure what the direction of the Spirit might be for me, for us. The Spirit has been and continues to be agitated. The Spirit has shown Mutual Aid is part of the answer for me. I am truly blessed to have Native friends who are teaching me by their example. Neither they, nor I, nor perhaps you, will put up with continued white obstruction.
In case you somehow missed the tragic story about the discovery of 215 First Nations children who passed away at the hands of a Canadian “school,” it’s time to wake up. This is our reality. You are shocked; you are heart broken. I wish we could be. This was not shocking — this was known.
Don’t make orphans stand here covered in the blood of our parents and explain to you how this all came to be without doing something about it. Don’t, for one second, think this is over. Remember, this was one chapter in the book. The story continues today in the form of the Department of Social, Family and Child Services. Our children are still being taken away from us, stripped of their identity, their culture and all humanity — and our babies do not always survive this process.
So yes, this latest news means we are acutely hurting. And we are angry. But we will carry on. We are mourning, and asking Creator to watch over those 215 souls. We are trying to take the time to heal the best way we can.The Tragedy of 215. Without truth, there can be no healing, by Sarah Rose Harper, Lakota People’s Law Project, 6/2/2021