Recently, I was interviewed for a documentary film being produced about inspiring women in business. I was selected as only one of eleven women to receive this honor.
During that shoot, we worked hard to get the lighting just right in order to eliminate any shadows. In the end, we did our best, because as a good friend of mine always says, “there’s no light without shadow.”
I think of this saying often, because I believe that (in order to keep growing) we must be willing to look at the aspects of ourselves we’d much rather keep hidden. By bringing those hidden aspects of ourselves out into the light, they lose whatever power they once held over us.
In the past several months I’ve been looking at an issue I’ve always felt badly about, but for which I never really took any kind of personal responsibility. Put simply, I didn’t believe I was contributing to the issue, so I couldn’t let it be my problem.
Until I realized it IS my problem.
I’m talking about the topic of racism.
Unfortunately, that word has become so loaded with meaning that already some of you reading this may have shut me out.
This is exactly why I thought it a worthy conversation to have. Because until we are able to have a conversation about it, it may simply join the other unacknowledged stuff that makes up our “shadow selves”.
It’s Black History Month and, although this topic wasn’t initially on my agenda, a couple of recent interactions changed that.
Specifically, one of these exchanges began with an email I received from a loved one that dripped with racist undertones. Knowing him to be a deeply loving and good man, I knew it was entirely unconscious. Still, something inside compelled me to reply and attempt to draw his attention to it. I was as respectful and loving as possible and, yet, he shut the conversation down without even look at it.
As a communicator and educator, I started to wonder…with this being one of the most important issues we are facing today (if not THE most important), how do we start to open up a dialogue about it?
So I reached out for help.
In an attempt to have a roundtable-type discussion to help me explore this, I enlisted the help of two individuals: Dan McCool, Ph.D., who taught “Race, Institutions & The Law” at Framingham State University, and authored “Self, Institutions, and Others”; and Alicia Jones McLeod, Executive Director at ChallengingRacism.org.
However, I didn’t want to look at the topic of racism in the usual way. I wanted to explore the challenges that come with being white in America today.
In other words, who am I in relationship to this current issue?
My podcast, the All Ways Evolving podcast, is a conscious living podcast for those who are always learning, always growing, always evolving into greater, more expansive versions of themselves. So this felt like a perfectly appropriate place to share this candid conversation. Check out Episode #42: Being White In America Today. You can listen wherever you enjoy podcasts, or you can listen here.
This interview took place via ZOOM, so I went ahead and also shared it on my YouTube channel.
These kinds of topics, which require us to be introspective and uncompromisingly honest with ourselves, are never easy. They require us to turn around and face our shadows, our unconscious beliefs and assumptions, and push up against our current comfort zone in order to grow.
But, since you’re here reading this, I know you’re all about that.
This topic is relevant in the spiritual and yogic community, because we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Let's not have disdain or distaste for this human experience we are here to embody. Let us have the courage to have difficult conversations, take a deep and honest look at ourselves, and even admit when it's time for us to let go of our outdated, erroneous beliefs that no longer serve us or the world we live in.
Wishing you Peace, Love, and Harmony,
P.S. On a lighter note, we are headed into week 3 of the 8-Week Chakra-Balancing Yoga Series, and the third chakra is, interestingly, all about personal power. It’s about having the courage, confidence, and motivation to take action in your life. We’ll explore what blocks that energy from moving freely, and what we can do to open up so that energy flows in the healthiest possible way.
It’s not too late to join us, and the practices from the first two chakras are waiting for you now, available for replay. Learn more here.