Survival

As much as I loved yesterday's part of the "Now Is the Time" conference, I had difficulty with the programing today. Dr. Butler asked us to reflect on and share our deepest longing with respect to this work. I did not want to share my deepest desire with some stranger whom I'd only just met. This is perhaps strange since I am willing to share with theoretically the entire world via the internet. I'm willing to throw it out there into the wind. But sitting in the hotel conference room next to flesh and blood, I felt vulnerable and defensive. The truth is that my deepest desire is simply to not hurt anymore. That is all I want.

It seemed to me like a small and selfish desire, unbefitting a UU and someone who was at this conference presumably for greater concerns. Hence my unwillingness to share. But it is not a small task to not hurt anymore. Nor does it only involve myself. I hurt every time I see someone else mistreated based on race (or religion/gender/orientation for that matter). So to relieve my pain we would have to relieve theirs. I hurt - I ache all over - whenever a white friend denies the reality of our suffering. So to relieve my pain we would have to open eyes/minds/hearts that are closed. It is no small task. I suppose I could have shared my desires in these grander terms, but the truth is that I just want to not hurt anymore.

After the scheduled programming, we broke into small informal caucuses. And it was good - it was amazing - to have people of African descent, Latinas, and Asians all in the same room. We aired our grievances, confessed our fears, affirmed and forgave each other.

One of the Asian women whom I'd met expressed an anger I have felt myself and heard other PoCs express. In telling a white UU that she wanted to work on racial justice, the response she got back was "Cool, I'm interested in animal rights." The logical conclusion here is that the physical and emotional welfare of humans of color is on par with the welfare of animals. And that this is some sort of "interest" as in hobby, which could change next week.

Racial justice is not an "interest." As our companion forcefully expressed, "My survival depends on it!" For a spit second my censoring brain considered labeling this statement as hyperbole, but then I remembered the conversation from only last Sunday. Her survival really does depend on it. All of ours does.

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