Undoing Whiteness on the Cover of the Seattle Times

Photo by Dean Rutz
Photo by Dean Rutz

I want to thank Marcus Harrison Green for his time, patience, dedication and beautiful writing. I was grateful to sit and share some of my story with him, and I was both honored and humbled to be on the front page of the Seattle Times last week. You can read the article here

A dear friend asked me the day the story published how I would talk about this 10 years from now, and I immediately dropped into one of my current commitments: courageous vulnerability. 

It was difficult to talk to the media for the first time since the backlash 4 years ago referenced in the article. During my interview with Marcus, I dissociated a lot, asking Marcus to take breaks so I could get back into my body. I am forever grateful for the way Marcus handled this story and held my vulnerability with compassion.

Before the story published I went on a hike and in the cold rain surrounded by trees I asked, “How can I navigate this with grace, ease and as a tool for liberation?” What I heard was: community, impermanence and lovingkindness. 

Community. I was held deeply in community this past week. Friends checked in. I talked to mentors who offered guidance and support. I could not, did not, and never would want to do this on my own. I am grateful for the people who monitored Facebook, who kept me company while I read emails filled with love, rage, gratitude and hate, who listened to my voicemails and opened letters that came to my home. Thank you in particular to Reagan, Genevieve, RW, Stacey, Jovi, Leticia, Shelly, Christina, Shannon, Becka, Laura, Dylan, Fleur, Judy, Kristen, Russ, Marc, Ruby, and so many others. 

Impermanence. This moment of discomfort for me is impermanent, while white supremacy and racism are not going away anytime soon. I received praise and blame and both would come and go quickly. It was an interesting experience to watch my nervous system respond to an email that calls me a “hero” right after another email that calls me a “fucking bitch.” The Buddha says, “Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.” I felt the discomfort in my body and desire to wiggle away from both the praise and the blame. My practice is the tree that helps me stay in the midst of it all. 

Lovingkindness. After a few days, I asked the question again. “How can I navigate this with grace, ease and as a tool of liberation?” In my meditation I heard, “stop making fun of trolls.” I was trolling trolls in my own head. Making fun of trolls was a coping strategy for me to wade through these waters, and it was also a form of dehumanization. This is not how I want to show up in the world. I want to practice being radically honest about how I feel (scared, angry, confused, averse and contracted are some of the ways I react to trolling) rather than pushing feelings away with humor and degradation, even if that was coming in my direction. 

In service of liberation and lovingkindness for all: May the many people of color doing this work longer and better than I ever could be uplifted and celebrated for their work, resilience and strength. May all white people see the ways white supremacy are dehumanizing our relationships, our world and ourselves.

May all beings be liberated, free and whole.

With love and solidarity,