How are you doing? I’d love to take a deep breath together…

This week I had been intending to share with you about some new developments in my work moving forward, but in the wake of George Floyd’s murder the only thing I can think about is the painful, horrific legacy of racial injustice in America that has wrongfully taken the lives of countless other Black Americans. 

I am in awe of and in full support of the protests, uprising and organizing that is going on and I am actively confronting the shame I carry that it has taken this level of escalation to get my more full attention.

I am listening to the voices of the Black community. I am pausing. I am reflecting about what I have chosen not to see and why. I am asking myself how I must change moving forward. 

In my work with women, we talk a lot about patriarchy, a system of society in which men hold power and women and trans folks are largely excluded from it. 

I am passionate about this work of dismantling patriarchy both internally and externally and I am also reflecting on the ways in which I have been negligent around equally valuing conversations of race.

How patriarchy has played out for each of us is not the same and there are vast differences among women dependent on other aspects of our identity, such as race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, ability/size/shape of our bodies and the individual family culture into which we were born. 

Just as we must dismantle the toxicity of patriarchy in our minds and bodies, we must also dismantle white supremacy, the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races and should therefore dominate society.  

Just as patriarchy negatively impacts women, trans folks and men, white supremacy negatively impacts people of color and white people. The impacts look and feel different depending on the position of power relative to the issue, but the toxicity is there for us all. 

This is work that black and brown communities have been addressing consistently out of necessity for centuries and work that many white people seem to believe is not necessary or is not as high of a priority. 

Although I have always cared deeply about racial injustice and studied it, I have not committed myself as fully to race issues as I have to gender issues. This matters and needs to change.

And so, I want to presence my whiteness today with you all. I want to name that I am a white, Jewish, middle-class, heterosexual, cis-gendered, highly educated woman and in my whiteness, in my privilege, I have a lot that I need to learn and I have made many mistakes.

White feminism has a painful history of marginalizing and disregarding women of color. I know this, I have learned about this, and yet I am still complicit in doing the very same thing. If what I am talking about is new to you, or even if it’s not, I highly recommend this article by Rachel Cargle.

I have not taken enough responsibility for wholeheartedly committing to dismantling the toxicity of white supremacy and how it lives and breathes in my body and around me even though I desperately wish it didn’t.

I will never be able to know what it is like to live in a black or brown body in a country with a horrifying legacy of violence, ongoing systemic racism and injustice. I will never know the extent of a Black mother’s grief who has lost her child to the atrocities of racism. 

I will never know.

Because I will never know and because I live in a country that was founded upon the violence and egregious violation of Black and Indigenous peoples I must commit on an even deeper level to learning more and doing better.

To the women of color in this community:

I see you. I am here. I am listening. I am increasing my participation. I am doing my work and I will not ask you to do any work for me. I am available for feedback.

I want to know your stories and experiences as much as you want to share them. I care about you and I am committed to demonstrating that care in more concrete ways. 

I will respect your anger, your outrage, your grief. I will honor your boundaries.

I am gathering resources for the women of color that I serve individually and want to share those with you:

I learned about the Liberate Meditation App from the Awakening Women community and it is a mindfulness resource for the Black, Indigenous and People of Color community to help alleviate the impacts of stress and trauma.

These are two of my favorite podcasts that highlight the voices of women of color and speak directly to the mental health issues of Black women:

http://laylafsaad.com/good-ancestor-podcast
https://therapyforblackgirls.com/podcast/

The Loveland Foundation is an amazing organization that provides affordable therapy to Black women and girls. 

To the white women in this community:

This is a time for white people to be listening first, examining our impulses to defend or justify, owning our material and not asking people of color to hold space for us.

It is our responsibility to do the work to educate ourselves. Even with the best of intentions, do not ask Black women or other people of color to educate you unless it is someone who has chosen to be a teacher or leader in the space and in which case sign up and pay to be a student in their courses, purchase their books, enroll in their workshops. 

I have found these articles to be extremely helpful in terms of what to do and what not to do.

http://laylafsaad.com/poetry-prose/white-women-white-supremacy-1
https://insidethekandidish.wordpress.com/2020/05/30/dear-white-people-this-is-what-we-want-you-to-do/

These books have been huge for me in terms of confronting my own whiteness.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Waking Up White by Debby Irving

To all of us:

These are turbulent times. Stress and trauma are heightened for all of us. I know that you care. I know that I care. This is why we are here. 

I stand firmly in my belief that women, all of us in our diversity and range, hold the power, the solutions, the wisdom and the healing capacity to usher us forward into a more empathic, aware and just world. 

These are two of the books I will be reading next to support me on my journey, and I’d love to have you join me if you’re inspired:

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem

And finally, thank you SO much for the outpouring of love and congratulatory messages you sent to me after last week’s email. 

It felt so good to share the news of my daughter with you all and I LOVED hearing about your lives, the challenges, the births, the deaths, the triumphs. It was heartwarming and such a reminder to me about the power of sharing our stories as women. 

I pray, and I will take more action, so that my child and all children in this country inherit a healthier ecosystem in which to grow. 

Thank you for being here. 

Thank you for caring about yourself and the world around you. 

In service,
Emma