Archive for the ‘Racial Smog’ Category
I was raised in Santa Cruz as a working/middle class hippy/yuppie child. My grandma and grandpa’s house was and still is a few blocks from the Live Oak Supermarket, yet our family did not shop there. I went to elementary school across the street, even helped plant the now soaring Oak trees when I was a little girl. I learned in silence that us white folks do not shop in the same local grocery stores as my Latino classmates and community members. I grew up shopping at Staff of Life and New Leaf, surrounded by familiar looking white folks who only spoke in English. I learned that “our” stores had superior produce and meat, yet did not think about access to money for organic foods and about the people of color whose job it was to grow and bring these items to Staff of Life for white people like me. I now have the language to name the racial smog I was surrounded in as a child, that called seperation between the white and Latino communities natural. I mourn my lack of authentic relationships with children and adults of color while growing up; neighbors, classmates, community members, service workers. Poetry is a healing tool for me to explore the smog of racism and white privilege and my conditioning in this dehumanizing mess. Poetry is also an essential tool in my journey in unlearning racism and transforming shame into creative resistance.
Saturday Night Privilege (May 2008)
9:30pm sobriety check point working class Live Oak area
lined up police cars with flashing lights, Live Oak Supermarket parking lot, grey toyota truck, two Latino men walking the sober line
heart racing I roll down window
white cop sees two beautiful white ladies, leans in and says, “you don’t smell like alcohol”
Lets me go
my heart sinks
I am white, presumed innocent
Written by, Dana Kaiser-Davidson (age 27)
I recently took an Amtrack train from Colorado to San Jose. During the trip, there was a White ranger giving talks over the intercom about the history of the land and the railroad. He announced that one of the gifts of the railroad was the diversity of labor gave way to the ethnic diversity present in the U.S today. He painted a picture of well-treated Chinese labor being respected for their healthy food and hard work as well as fairly paid Native Americans, African Americans and Mexican Americans. Even though I knew this fairytale version omitted the history of racism against the Chinese, being legally binded to temporary work; there was no mention of the land used for the railroads had been stolen from Native Americans and Mexicans (who were called aliens of their own land); I sat in the comfort of my own seat knowing that the silence of racism was diminishing my humanity, my connection to the white folks and people of color on the train. I chose to feel bad and hide in my privilege rather than to speak up. In the section on Loss, in Tim Wise’s book, White Like Me, he says that, “People never hurt others in moments of personal strength and bravery, when they are feeling good about themselves, when they are strong and confident,” (p.126). I realize now that self-love and forgiveness are essential in speaking up to reclaiming humanity and ending racism. If I had been practicing self-love on the train, rather than dwelling in guilt, I might have had the courage to speak to the people around me to vocalize the absurdity of the ranger’s comments. Today I choose to feel good about myself and commit to speaking up to racism especially in moments of feeling uncomfortable. Rather than trying to do it perfectly, I commit to speaking to reclaim my humanity. Shedding the guilt and the silence mobilizes me into dealing with the loss from “whiteness” and white privilege. Ending racism becomes an everyday “have to.”
You are all there is. Completely connected to me and my connection to all people. I am one with you, safe in you. I affirm heaven on earth right here now. I know healing of white supremacy culture is taking place right now. I know humanity is transforming. Love heals all fear. I affirm open, authentic, loving communication. I affirm the release of Capitalism. I know complete prosperity, sustainability, and sovereignty for all beings. I know that white Americans are waking up to the racial smog that surrounds us. I know clarity leading to justice. Spirit is present in this smog. I am an open channel for possibility consciousness and healing of racism. I am healing my immersion in racism and hold up this healing for all people. I know spiritual revolution is here. Thank you for clarity, discernment, open and loving communication. Thank you for safety, vitality, and all needs met. Thank you for healing and transformation. Thank you for heaven on earth. I let this prayer be and release it into the universe. I know it is done. So it is. Amen
My prayer was answered as I literally woke myself. The white man spraying gas for me is a metaphor for the racial smog that has us white folk asleep to our privilege, our sense of loss from cultural ancestry, and the racism we are conditioned to act out. What is racial smog? I see it as perceived inability to see the world through a racial lens. When I think that I do not suffer from the lies I’ve been taught about people of color, from the histories not told to me, from the present day reality that racism does exist and I am a conscious and unconscious participant in it; I am breathing racial smog. When I think I am not soulfully affected from cultural disconnection from my ancestors and their Irish, Scottish, German, French and English foods, memories, stories, and music; I am soaking in racial smog. When I think that I wasn’t conditioned in whiteness, or that it does not give me unearned privileges, I am living in racial smog.
By Dana Kaiser-Davidson
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.