In days of heightened awareness of injury accumulate through generations of a false narrative to justify decisions based on “race,” I am still hearing the beneficiaries of cultural injustice asking those harmed by it, “What should I do to help?” Similarly, there are attempts to posit one overarching panacea or another that will resolve, at little cost, matters of relief, reparation, and recovery.
In days of long ago, we took tests to see what occupation we were suited for (Capitalism does need its laborers) and direct our educational arc accordingly. Such instruments required a specific outcome to justify their construction and application. While not remembering what course those tests laid out for me, I am confident that they didn’t even come close to what has occurred. As a category of a meaningful life and the measure of wealth, “occupation” does not rise more than knee-high for me.
Asking advice about which way to be helpful has a significant difficulty – it seldom accords with our energy, gifts, or values. We are far more likely to find a helpful response to an unsettling circumstance when it arises from within rather than directed from without.
Rather than put ourselves in a cog’s position on some universal machine or solution, we might reflect and engage with a statement followed by a question. “I am thinking (or feeling) that I can offer ______. Do you know a place or person where I can begin to practice and see where to grow from there?”
From a structural point of view, there will be no single “solution” to racism. Remember “Reconstruction” after the slave-based Civil War within the US. Even learning a lesson or two from that effort won’t materially enhance a variant today. There are too many aspects to the problems we have brought upon ourselves, individually and collectively, with concepts of “inherent superiority” and “race” for us to easily move to larger “self-evident truths.”
To grow in the image of one another invites variation and wholeness, not one path and the division it builds as we wonder and wander together. Removing one more layer of racism will require many different gifts that come together as a variant of getting to a proverbial moon – “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” (John F. Kennedy, Moon Speech, September 12, 1962)
This choice of addressing supremacy and racism will not be easy. A first step might be a variant on another Kennedy quote: Ask not what you can do for a cause, but volunteer the gifts you already have.
PS to Dave – this was written before our last thread.