JOY + Honor:
My two words of the next year
I wrote the following at the beginning of August, which is my birthday month!
I feel like the 20’s is notorious for figuring out who you are and deconstructing belief systems, and mine really falls in line with it! So I’ve been thinking a lot this past month in what I want my next decade to look like, and I’m brimming with excitement to start constructing what I want. I’ve spent so much energy and time (necessarily so) into what I don’t want and what is oppressive - I’m not as familiar with what I can have hope FOR. One thing I do want to say is that deconstructing/reconstruction isn’t linear, because one thing I have learned is that life is nuanced. There is rarely anything that fits in the binary. Especially when it comes to healing and liberation - many things such as lament and joy needs to happen simultaneously.
In the next decade, two things that I’m excited to invest in: 1 - Joy and 2 - Honor.
1 . JOY. This has been a huge theme in this year especially in the IG BIPOC community. This is something I want: radical joy and pleasure. Joy is the last thing this capitalistic/whitesupremist/patriarchal society wants me - wants us - to have and embody. Because if we had radical joy, it would mean that we are tapping into our wholeness and self worth. And when we believe in our wholeness and worthiness, we will rise up together. When mourning for what is messed up is paired with joy and health, the FIGHT IS ON. That power is unstoppable. For all the talk of liberation, if I don’t embody joy and celebration for my brown history, body, and culture, who is liberated? I’m really done with a martyr mentality that centers white people.
2 - HONOR. At the @swarmrez , @sandraholla gave a beautiful tarot group reading, and one of my cards was prompting me to tap into the strength of my ancestors. Honor is an interesting word for me, because honor/shame culture leaves such a bitter taste in my mouth. But honor resonates with me now because I want to build from the intuition and wisdom that came before me. I want to move away from the belief that I'm alone and completely independent - the blood that courses through my veins is not my own. I want to honor what has come before me as an act of decolonization and liberation! White Supremacy / colonization wants me to stay far far away from my ancestors, my culture, my language, and in this next decade I want to see myself as an extension of my people. Talking about BIPOC power, imagine what dismantling white supremacy would mean if we had access to what has come before us!
I wrote this at the end of the august, and I know it will resonate with me deeply for a long long time.
Why BIPOC joy?
Addressing intersectionality is really important to me, because I believe that BIPOC are stolen many basic human liberties through white supremest narrative of who we are and what we deserve. It is influenced by not only big systemic movement, but it also influences how we see ourselves via internal oppression. The white supremest narrative tells us that we aren’t worthy of shameless joy and we don’t have value compared to white people - and we need to earn and buy our right to joy and wellness (and obviously that’s just a trick.) So in our effort needs to be focused in healing and liberating ourselves from this narrative of ourselves and the world around us.
How can we embody BIPOC JOY?
Here a few ways I personally find helpful!
1. Breath work
Our breath is always with us, and when we view it us our friend + support, we can slow down our heart rate and lower our stress hormones, step into the present, and remind us of our embodied worth. Whether it’s through the strengthening of your meditation or yoga practice, breath work can be carried through to every moment of our lives. The work that @dr.rosalesmezaand @gutsygirlart reminds us the importance of decolonizing wellness. When we are present and mindful, we can much easier invite in joy. A meditation app that @alkellypoetryintroduced to me is called Liberate - it’s for BIPOC by BIPOC.
2. Learning/practicing to self talk with grace
First, it’s helpful to be informed of your own trauma and to acknowledge how your mind/body/soul has learned to cope. Then, something that I find helpful to tell myself goes something like this when I’m trying to make sense of something that doesn’t add up to what my mind thinks/believes: “I felt [emotion] and so I did ____, and of course that would be my reaction. I’ve been trained to ____. Let’s try together to remember our worth, and use [healthy coping technique] to anchor us when it happens again.” Or something like that! Anything to increase grace to self while acknowledging the complexity of the situation - building myself in the direction of health.
3. Be around children - with intention, presence, and mindfulness
Whether you have children of your own or not, we need to invest our time in children. We have so much to learn from them - shamelessness, playfulness, curiosity, atunement to their bodies. It’s healing for us to join them in those ways, and it’s healing for them when we invest our energy in their liberation. This work that we do is so expansive! When we heal and thrive, it is powerful and an act of radiant resistance. Oh and laugh more!
Back to California!
Mourning + joy:
Something that I don’t want people to hear when I’m talking about joy is that I’m saying that I’m just going to ignore the messed up things of our society. Or that I’m going to be blindly “happy” and be consequently self absorbed. What I’m learning is what will increase my joy is being able to hold mourning, fighting injustice, and joy simultaneously. When I can mourn and have joy well, I will have more long term energy and heart to fight for what is worth fighting for much harder. I’m going to fight for my own liberation that will flow outward powerfully. This is what I wrote about it mid August:
Being able to mourn and have joy is fundamental to BIPOC liberation and power. And something I want to practice on the daily. So I’m going to share with you want I’m mourning today and what I have joy in.
Mourning: lives that were taken in the #elpaso and #daytonohio shootings. I’m mourning the default of our society is to ALWAYS to be on the defense for whiteness at the cost of human lives whether it’s in mass shootings, mass incarceration, detainment camps, separation of families, police brutality, etc. White people (and BIPOC too) are trained to be on the defense for white supremacy, and most don’t acknowledge it - let alone dismantle it. This reality is sad and violent.
Joy: I don’t need to wait for my internal or external oppression to be completely dismantled in order to have joy. I don’t need to wait for society to wake up to have joy. I have the AGENCY to choose joy. I celebrate that I can make art and engage about things that I believe in. I celebrate that I have friends and family who support and love me. I celebrate that there is intergenerational healing and hope.
I’m nearing the end of the book, and I’ve been reading this for awhile - it’s pretty dense and a lot to absorb. It’s been really helpful in understanding how my mind, body, and experiences work together. Most importantly, it is helping me to have more grace to myself. Almost all things aren’t as simple as understanding and then having everything else align and change. Being trauma informed myself is also changing how I see others with more grace. Not only is there more grace, but there’s also more hope. There is hope to be freed from the crippling affects of trauma. There is so much hope to be able to cope in beautiful ways. There is hope that even if it’s been a certain way for so long it doesn’t have to be anymore. There is also hope if things seemingly backtrack or reemerge, we have tools to feel supported and loved. I’m looking forward to finally finishing this book soon!
And I’m still reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Hurari.
THIS is important. I am so thankful to get my hands on a hard copy of this.
The farewell - directed by Lulu Wang
This is one of the Intersectional Friday posts that I wrote in August:
Today’s focus is: How to decenter whiteness. There are SO MANY ways to decenter whiteness, but today I’m going to share a few ways that I’ve learned through my personal journey with it. As usual, you can listen to my talk throughs via my instastories and highlight “Friday 35.” I get into it more than what is written here!
What have I learned? It's really REALLY hard not to center whiteness. Regardless if you are BIPOC or white, all of us have been taught/brainwashed from day one that we must uphold white people in places of power because they mean and are the supreme. White supremacy is in the air that we all breathe whether you can detect it or not. BIPOC are taught that we must protect white ego, white fragility, and trust white good intentions at ANY cost. Any cost meaning through our own violence, gaslighting, DEATH, cultural appropriation, stolen land/wisdom/resources, through white assimilation, etc. When I’m talking about internalized oppression this is what I’m talking about! Especially for BIPOC, we are taught to not every question it and if we do - there will be consequences.
Three ways how not to center whiteness:
1) Believing that it is not BIPOC's responsibility to "educate" white people and work with them until they “get it.”
This one is so hard for me. I was struggling just a couple days ago of feelings of guilt for not saying more doing more - feeling the weight of responsibility that wasn’t mine in the first place. It’s easy for my mind to know, but it’s hard for the rest of me to be convinced of it. I’m working on practicing preaching to myself TRUTH and patience with myself knowing that it takes patience in decolonizing my mind/body. I’m working on releasing the lie that white people will not be able to see their own privilege unless I say something. BIPOC folx have been saying this for centuries!!
I am also not saying we cannot have conversations, speak up or educate white people….but it isn't our responsibility. It's a subtle but important difference. It should come from a place that the conversations would liberate us as a whole and INDIVIDUALLY.
2) Work through trauma
Between last year and this year, I've seen a HUGE difference of what I can hold in myself. Working through the trauma of not feeling like I could truly belong and seeing how racism has been present at every turn of my life has been so freeing. It helped me see that at different points, certain triggers were really sensitive. This helped me make decisions that were informed by my healing. Being familiar with how trauma is connected to my nervous system + body decenters whiteness, because I am centering MY wellness. I will not sacrifice it for whiteness.
3) Be honest in what you need in this season
I’m also learning how to be honest with myself. I’m see myself as super independent, and find myself with a mentality that is me against the world. I renounce that! In this new season, I need BIPOC around me to support me. I need more love and wisdom around me. Already, since I’ve vocalized this, things are changing in this direction!!
I think that knowing how to honestly gauge yourself of what you can handle in this moment or this season is really key. It's ok to back away and not get into those difficult conversations (I’m talking to BIPOC! If you’re white, this does not apply to you). Or if you’re in a different season, it's also ok to call out violence and rally people around you to do the same - that isn't white centering. There is so much grace and there is no shame. Your healing is your liberation work.
#TWintersectionalfridays: Space to explore intersections of identity and systems of oppression. Space to tell your story. Space to listen. Every Friday of 2019. // Week 35/52. ‘Decenter whiteness’
with Universal Standard
I have really slowed down with teaching workshops, but I was so excited to partner with Universal Standard for a watercolor workshop that they paid for their attendees. It was a beautiful morning with beautiful people in a beautiful space!