Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page

Racial Smog

by Dana Kaiser-Davidson

It was 3am, the morning of my first White Ally Learning Lab (WALL). Sweat trickled from my palms, heart racing like the beat was in my head. Relieved to be awake in the dark stillness of sleeping humanity, I was freed from the nightmare of my mind. The next morning I was going to the WALL. Nervous excitement had me tossing and turning. Could I show up this day as open willingness to be present even in the midst of wanting to hide in the fogginess of white privilege? Would I be found out as that “bad” white person posing as an ally in ending racism? Would I have to uncover the shame of my white ancestors who turned their backs on people of color in the name of economic success called capitalism? Could I look at, hold the shadows of racism enacted in my mind and actions without running to cozy fairyland of white comfort? These were some of the questions that stirred the consciousness of my dream/nightmare.
I was gripping the ground in an open cemented quarry, 15 feet from my first best friend, a white woman named Jordan. She was curled up in the fetal position. In the distance was a white man wearing a navy green suit and army gas mask spraying green and red smog. This gas made me dizzy. The air was too cloudy to see. Fear gripped my body, tightening every muscle. I couldn’t breathe. I remember wanting so bad to be close to Jordan, get up and walk away from this power hungry man. The feeling of anxiety rose as I realized that I could lose consciousness and become powerless to what this man wanted to do with my life. I tried to move but was paralyzed. The only thing I knew to do in that moment was pray. The prayer literally woke me up from this nightmare.

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“My People, White People.”

I watched a spoken word performance at a Diversity symposium put on by the College of San Mateo (CA) in April. Kicking things off in front of a multiracial crowd of students, professors and community members was Dana Davidson, young white woman reading a poem – “My People, White People.” She broke it down – the loss, confusion AND vision for a new humanity.
While listening to her, I thought to myself, Whoa she’s got courage to start with that. What is this audience going to do?? They loved it! People across race could stand together and hear the honesty and integrity in the naming of whiteness. This week we offer Dana’s poem for inspiration and healing.

My People: White People
My people: white people
Truth be told “we” never were a people, fragments of cultures that bought into privilege
called whiteness, the invisible word
I remember 10th grade family history project being more concerned about my place in the human race
Bypassed cultural legacy for oneness, WE are all one my white people said
Not a color thing, just people.

My people: white people, Land of independent nuclear families
Smothering ideals of perfection, Bottled up resentments, Blistering silences
No such thing as mistakes or getting messy
We keep quiet to our own addictions, then blame people of color for all things called bad
poverty, drugs abuse, domestic violence, molestation……. perceived as isolated problems that white people are free from.

My people: white people
We say we are not racist, yet we are raised in a racist society
Pass on stereotypes of what we think people of color are really like to our children
We are fed half-truths and lies in history books
We sit silently while children are made into puppets on T.V color
White children learn diversity through Disney’s Pocahontas and Aladdin
Stereotypes that my grandparents taught me filtered my own perceptions
My people we have been hurt to think this separation does not chain our minds and hurt our souls

As I mind my mind with forgiveness, I let go of shame for my own people
I’ve deemed myself better than
I’ve acted out the lies I’ve been told, believing I was never racist
I sat in silence, guilt immobilized my mind
Held my own spirit captive
ego chatter categorized good and bad white people

Heaven on earth looks like oneness
With my own people
What is the use of pretending I am not like those white people
Who latch onto other cultures in order to cope with fragmented family histories

My people
From Irish, Scottish, English, German and unknown descent
Carried legacies of hurts with them
Pulled up from bootstraps laced in shoes stained in blood of slavery and genocide

My people: white people
Let’s love the hurts of forgotten legacies into wholeness
Let’s forgive our forefathers and mothers as we forgive ourselves for the violence, silence, shame and separation that internalized racial superiority has caused
For living in comfortable bubbles of safety
For believing we were never racist
Lets educate ourselves and other white people to histories ignored instead of asking people of color to be our teachers or explain the hurts they have faced

My people: white people
I vow to love you arms wide open as I love my baby niece
All white people no matter what you’ve said, done, kept silent in the name of privilege
You are good people
It’s time to mourn the hurts we’ve afflicted as a people
It’s time to grieve our separation from our own indigenous heritages
each cultural legacy dropped in the name of survival

It’s time to love our peoples, love ourselves
consciously awaken from our legacy of racial smog
Into awareness of our white privileges and culture
Let us create pride in our people
birthed in freedom, shared power, prosperity and tangible oneness with all people
My people: white people, the spiritual revolution is calling you

by Dana Kaiser-Davidson