I don’t think anyone who’s been reading for awhile will have any question about where, how and with whom I stand in the recent imperative upheaval in our country. I’ve become more vocal over time about racial inequities as a part of the critical healing of this time. I have written in broad brushstrokes about all kinds of healing with the hope my lyrical musings might allow the more unpalatable truths in.
I remember vividly meeting a new patient the summer of 2016. On her intake forms, in the line for primary stressors she wrote, “I am the mother of 2 Black sons”. It was 10 days after the police killings of Castile & Sterling. Thousands of miles from either man sat a woman whose physical and mental well being were weathered by surviving as a Black woman in this country, with aching concern for the survival of her precious children. She was brilliantly accomplished in her profession and personal life, her two sons both thriving in esteemed colleges. AND, the physical and mental health consequences of daily discrimination, systemic violence, and oppression are indisputable for our Black human family in the US.
This is not only happening in Minneapolis, Kentucky, and Atlanta. It’s in our back and front yards, filling our un-examined basements right here in the Pacific Northwest. In February this year, I offered public testimony before the King Co. Council. My brief testimony to the Law & Justice Committee can be heard here. Council was reviewing King County Sheriff’s conduct in the killing of Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens. Chance is one of many people, mostly Black and brown, killed by police in Washington State. 41 people in 2019, 17 thus far in 2020. These individuals were sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers, in some cases pregnant.
The metaphor of my last newsletter rings true to this moment in our country. Systemic change will occur in steps, internal and external. The Movement is surging, shifting, sustaining. States and cities are grappling, some taking inspiring steps forward. If you’re interested to become more involved, have a look at Next Steps WA, or email me about my current efforts. The internal work, of examining my own complicity and responsibility, I’ve found scouring and intimate. Decades of Zen monastic training at Tahoma have served me well in awareness internally, externally, and not getting caught in my own ego when I mess up and cause harm. I just keep going, opening my own heart’s determination to pause, to learn. to understand, to advocate, the support healing. Healing! There are myriad book lists and podcasts circulating, I’ve listed some in past writings. In this moment, I’ll suggest Alishia’s McCullough’s engaging, visual piece fostering deep reflection for white folx, and the book My Grandmother’s Hands with encouragement for all to read.
And here, I’m going to ask all of you to do one concrete thing. By following this link you will advocate for accountability right here, demanding local police departments stop obstructing justice. All details about the appeal are in the sidebar to the right. The link will generate an email. Please remember to sign, and share with other. If you have any problems with the link, simply type into your phone tinyurl.com/dropyourlawsuit
Wherever you are in all this, yourself weathered by surviving in this country, or your eyes opened more widely with horror and understanding to your own positioning, (and the whole continuum between) all the encouragements I often write about apply here. Pause. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice this precious human breath with intimate awareness. Notice the activity of the mind. Tune into the texture of the heart. We can only ever start from here. Exhausted. Confused. Afraid. Curious. Inspired. Ashamed. Galvanized. Resourced. Overwhelmed. Determined. My previous encouragements apply to learning about our own internalized white supremacy (regardless of our race). Single steps we can take to stop doing harm, to others and to ourselves, are entirely dependent on where we are in this journey. However we are positioned, we can all contribute to healing.
Mental and physical health are recognized with parity in WA state. As much physical pain as I have been treating since my return to clinic in early May, I’ve been supporting more people struggling with anxiety and stresses from the viral pandemic in tandem with our nation’s pre-existing…conditions. There are new protocols, for me and my patients, and I can explain how I’m operating to keep myself and others safe in as much detail as you need. Yes, I’ve been protesting since George was killed, always wearing a mask and attentive to basic protocols we know contain the virus. And, it’s clear BLM protests are not driving coronavirus spikes here or across the country. My COVID test 2 weeks into protesting came back negative. Public Health officials are no longer suggesting protestors test unless symptomatic.
Please reach out if you want to schedule an appointment, or you want to discuss any elements of this writing. I welcome responses and dialogue. And sometime, brew or steep a cuppa, and take time to go back and read the articles I’ve embedded throughout this piece. They’ve been chosen with care.
onward in humility and determination toward healing,