After the election ...
“Devastated, heavy hearted, weary, bruised. What is happening requires that we look, feel, understand, and respond. History offers perspective, and maybe a splash of hope, but don’t count on hope. Count on doing what must be done. Grieve and rest. Don’t get too far ahead of now! Now is enough to digest. Let grief transform you, then make a conscious choice to be a light.” - Ruth King
I write to you quite humbly as ED of White Awake
, and as one individual grappling with the bombshell that was Nov 8 bleeding into Nov 9. Over the last four days I have cycled, as I am sure many of you have, through horror, fear, denial, optimism, grief, numbness, anxiety, despair, and an awakening presence to the immediacy of life.
If you voted for Trump, and this email stumbled across your inbox, know that I wish you no ill. In fact, I’m certain we share values, needs, and concerns. May you look at what I share with curiosity, even as it may seem like the world turned on its head and likely cause offense. Know that this is how your world seems to me and that, ultimately, we share the same reality. I recognize that many progressives, arrogant and presumptive as we may have been, are called upon to listen. I hope that you will listen, too.
I want to share, with some immediacy (and lack of polish, I’m sorry):
- voices and leadership that has been meaningful to me these past four days
- a new resource on the White Awake site that could help your community grieve and heal
- a call to Stand with Standing Rock. The water protectors - out there fighting for their lives, their communities, and all of us in the process - are particularly vulnerable now. The Donald actually owns stock in Dakota Access, and has pledged to green light the oil and gas industry on all fronts.
One leader that truly shines at this moment is Van Jones
Van reminds us that we have 70 days before the president-elect Trump takes office, and suggests that in these next two weeks we prioritize three things: 1. grieve and heal; 2. gather information; and 3. build community.
. You may have already watched his three part video series “The Messy Truth
” (if not, I suggest you do). Two and a half million people have now watched his livestreamed “surviving the #WhiteLash
” video on FB. I found his words invaluable.
Alongside these three priorities, I’ve adding two of my own: 4. if and as you are able, build bridges with the Trumpvoters of your network; 5. remember, and prioritize, Standing Rock.
1. Make time to grieve, rest, and heal - two resources
Lama Rod Owens / livestreamed teachings on FB
Lama Rod, per usual, does an incredible job of teaching by describing, with great transparency and vulnerability, his personal dharma practice. He skips no steps, makes no spiritual bypass, and centers the truth of self love (as a person inhabiting a historically marginalized body) as radical act.
Popularized by Joanna Macy via the Work that Reconnects, the Truth Circle is a community ritual designed to hold the space for collective grieving. Now more than ever, we need our community practice to hold all of who we are - White Awake is pleased to share this Facilitator’s Guide, in which the Truth Circle is framed in an anti-racist context especially for people of European descent/white people making our way out of the paradigm of dominance, and into the collective struggle for liberation.
2. Gather information
As you are able, make Trump and his incoming team a subject of calm study. Take breaks - care for yourself - and return. Learn who his cabinet members are; take note of the people he appoints into different roles in his administration. Study their track record. Check out the conservative media - understand how they are framing things / how one third or more of the country is framing things. Take stock of our opponent, his network of power, and the people that are under their sway. Assess what is called for in this new reality.
In addition, study “what went wrong” on the progressive side of things. Understand the ways in which the Democratic party has failed to offer a life sustaining solutions. Take stock of the “new progressives”, the leadership and analysis they offer, the fights they are taking on: Josh Fox; Naomi Klein; Van Jones; Elizabeth Warren. Within what landscape do we engage? Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Indigenous Environmental Network, Red Warrior Camp, Idle No More, the Dreamers, … are we learning the names of the new leaders emerging? Are we preparing ourselves to join them?
3. Build circles of support
Here in Washington, DC, I am finding my networks of support within the fluid leadership circle of our local chapter of SURJ, as well as a small White Awake study group that meets monthly at my house. The longer we engage, the deeper our relationships become: within SURJ the entire culture of the chapter is shifting to open more and more space for emotion and heart connection among us; inside the study group, we began to discuss gender violence (in the context of race and privilege) about a month ago, and this touched on deeper levels of intimacy as we share our vulnerabilities and personal stories with one another.
If you find yourself feeling isolated, reach out to at least one friend with whom you can talk openly. Pour your heart out. Allow vulnerability to open up a deeper connection between you. If you can’t meet in person, talk on the phone; video chat. Whatever will afford the most immediacy. In the early morning, Nov 9, once my daughter I and were done holding one another and rocking together on the couch, we Facetimed my sister-in-law, currently living in Amsterdam (no one else we knew was up yet, lol). My two year old niece and I hung out via video chat for the first time ever, and I was dubbed “Auntie Nor”. Tragedy, fear, and catastrophe open the door for deeper connection. Make use of this.
4. White folks to white folks - create careful connection across the “Trump Divide”
You may or may not be able to do this, but my sense is that those of us who are white have a special responsibility here to maintain and/or build bridges across the fault lines within our own collective. See (above) Van Jones, "The Messy Truth" for inspiration … and consider this conversation guide developed by SURJ DC.
The truth is that, in one way or another, these are “our people” and society will be less dangerous if we proactively build relationships with them. Our focus can be creating as much safety as we can for our relatives of the global majority; listening to the voices of anger or disenfranchisement that led to this election result; keeping an eye out for our shared values, wherever they may be; and always treating the “other” with respect.
Check out the SURJ national “Cross Class Capacity Toolkit” if you are a middle to upper class white person engaging with folks who are poor and/or working class. You might spend a little time with Charles Eisenstein’s post-election essay as well.
This is not for everyone … but for those who can, these relationships across “right” and “left” may be what saves us. We have got to find one another, because our survival is linked. We have also got to do everything we can to minimize the violence against current targets of abuse. We will do this by organizing, and supporting the organizing of others, in many different forms. And, one avenue available to us is our personal networks. In case it is of inspiration to you, here’s a post I addressed to Trump supporters in my life on FB.
5. Stand with Standing Rock
This Tuesday, November 15th, Indigenous leaders are calling us to join a National Day of Solidarity with peoples of the Standing Rock Reservation to demand that the Obama administration and the Army Corps of Engineers reject the Dakota Access Pipeline.
This oil pipeline will run directly through indigenous sacred sites and the Missouri river, threatening Native land rights and the water of 20 million people. Hundreds of rallies will be held across the country. White Awake is asking you to attend the one nearest you.
If you can go to Standing Rock, this is one of the greatest needs. Buddhist Peace Fellowship is raising money for a delegation of 15, if you would like to make a donation to help this delegation go.You can also donate to one of more of the camps here.
We do not know what will awake in us. Build your networks, and prepare. Cherish your loved ones. Savor your life. Take nothing for granted.
With love, in solidarity,