on showing up

Dear white friends and family,

 

I want to give you a heads up that some time in the next couples of days/weeks I may decide to ask you a question that is not easy, not comfortable, and not Minnesota-nice. I may decide to ask you why you’re not showing up.

 

You might immediately assume I’m judging you and you might become defensive. You might think that I’m just another angry activist.

 

I’m not interested in judging you individually. I just really want to know. I’m not interested in judging you individually because I don’t see any utility in judgment. There are already too many white people judging other white people, thinking there’s one right way to be a white ally. Beyond spreading negative energy and distracting ourselves from the real problem, acting like there’s only one right way to be a white ally is like saying all people of color are the same and all people of color appreciate white people’s support in the same way.

 

That said, we all judge even if we don’t want to. But we can notice when these judgmental thoughts come up and try not to take them too seriously.

 

I don’t know what your past couple of days have been like and I don’t know how it feels good to give. I’m not here to tell you what things you could have skipped or canceled to make it over to the governor’s mansion, or one of the vigils, marches or rallies.

 

But I still really want to know why you’re not showing up. I want to know from the perspective of being deeply interested in history and human nature, of the ways that societal change truly comes about. I believe that if we really want change, we are going to have to let it disrupt our lives at least a little bit. So what keeps people from letting their lives be disrupted?

 

And I also want to know because it helps me understand why and where I’m not showing up. Even though I’ve let this work seep deeply into my daily job, friendships, and community involvement, there’s still a thousand ways I don’t show up. Please don’t look at my facebook and put me in a neat box titled radical, an activist, someone who is really involved. I’m not a point of reference for you to compare yourself to. There’s a million ways people are more involved, making a bigger difference than me. I’m just trying to figure out the best way for me to engage in way that feels consistently good.

 

For me, this is not political work, this is spiritual work.

 

I don’t show up because I have an illusion that I’m making a big difference. I don’t show up because I have much of an illusion that I’m making any difference. I show up because it feels good.

 

It feels good to hear stories.

It feels good to feel pain.

It feels good to gain perspective on what’s really important.

It feels good to be in a space where people from all different backgrounds are coming together – a community grounded in fierce love.

It feels good to engage in this historical moment in person, not just through the media

To grieve our world, in person, together.

To find hope, in person, together.

It feels good to honor the lessons of our ancestors – real change happens when people come together to disrupt the status quo.

We’ve built a sick world.

Showing up is like a daily dose of medication. It’s like balm for the soul. Like everyone else, I have a million other things I could be doing. But each time I show up, I feel a little more whole.

 

I believe in the power of empathy. I believe that you might feel some of these things if you show up.

 

Showing up does not equal a gold star in itself. Showing up in itself has some political power. But more importantly, showing up offers a step toward the internal transformation we need to transform externally.

 

So, yes, I do have a bias toward showing up. And I have to admit I’m somewhat frustrated at those who are not. I’m not particularly focused on the people who never cared, I’m frustrated with people who said they care, but let that care be theoretical—who’ve taken anti-racism workshops and shown up to once-a-month racial justice meetings, who’ve proclaimed themselves white allies, certain that they checked off all the right boxes on how to be one.

 

Where are you? Why aren’t you here? Why aren’t you here at what feels like the most important time to care?

 

We must recognize the privilege we have in being able to take an anti-racism class and than go about our daily lives not having to worry about our babies getting murdered.

 

I believe in engaging with that privilege and then asking – where can we disrupt our lives, even just a little bit, so that the real change we so badly need can take place?

 

Again, I’m pointing fingers or trying to blame individuals. I’m just interested in the places where theoretical sentiments can translate into heart-based personal growth and action. How you choose to engage with that is up to you.

 

So if I ask you about showing up, please know I’m not judging you. I love you. And I think that we should be asking these questions of ourselves and each other.