Part of what I have learned from Eastern philosophy is this concept of metta meditation. This is also known as loving kindness meditation. You repeat a couple of phrases and wish yourself well, a loved one well, and someone who is difficult in your life or caused you harm. The idea is to have the intention of wishing this person well. Sometimes it is easy to say it and sometimes it is difficult. Ultimately when we hold on to anger, it stops being healthy and can make us sick. I wish people well so that I don’t hold on to their pain and hate.
People ask me when I make an anti-racist comment, video or blog and have people say harmful things to me why don’t I ignore it. Sometimes I do ignore it if I am not in an emotionally resourced place to address it. I think sometimes it does me more harm to ignore it. I carry their pain (anger, sadness, shame) in my body, in my energetic zone and that is not helpful to me. I find myself ruminating about what they said and all the ways I can challenge it.
When I reply from a grounded place and am able to still see their humanity by wishing them well it frees me. I can move on more easily. I let go of someone winning or losing. Grounded doesn’t mean I don’t feel a lot of emotions. Rage or sadness is often simmering but it hasn’t hijacked my nervous system to the point that I can’t see the multiple truths. I remind myself that many people, particularly white people, have been taught a certain narrative about post racial United States and that if people work hard enough they can be successful as well.
It seems that the concept of racism, individual and systemic racism, excites strong emotion in people to the point they have polarizing conversations where they cannot see the other person’s viewpoint. At extremes we forget that we are each human and start to attack each other rather than build curiosity and common ground.
I love how Ruth King invites us to think about the following things when you are inviting people into conversation about race, rather than calling them out:
This is one of my favorite exchanges and gives me hope:
Him: 94% of black deaths are caused by black men.
Me: I wonder the context of this data. Hard for me to know without more than one line shown. Could you send an article?How do systemic issues contribute to individual issues while holding individuals accountable.
Him: easy go to FBI crime statistics and research the truth
Me: interesting to think that a system designed to police Black people is the only truth out there. Who gathers the info, what is it used for, who tends to be profiled? What data isn’t collected? What leads certain communities to be so impoverished and desperate and internalize racism. Just some of the things I tend to think about. Thank you for telling me your source.
Him: funny. You change the topic without any research. You know the truth.
All I know in this world is a victim stays a victim.
Why have people succeeded in getting out but majority stay in sane circumstances
Him: Democrat community gives data to the fbi. Keeping voting blue, then people stay impoverished
Me: there is so much we could talk about. Too bad social media platform isn’t the place to have deep conversations that help people understand each other’s perspectives in my opinion. Thanks for engaging with me for a little while. I appreciate hearing how others come to understand things. So curious about the ways the Republican Party is trying to address poverty especially in black and Latinx communities to decrease the longstanding wealth gap. Will look for that in their platform.
Him: historic minority and female unemployment and earnings. Opportunity zones in black poor areas. I would research the period between 40s to civil rights in 67’ and wonder why black Americans stopped prospering after civil rights as they did before civil rights. Very interesting info. I love a smart discussion 🙏❤️
Me: Wishing you well.
If you are interested in learning more about having race based discussions from a mindful and compassionate place and invite people into conversation, sign up for one of my upcoming offerings. Next anti-racism workshop is 8/8. Full list can be found here. Check out my RAIN meditation to help take a breath and slow down when conversations cause you distress.
Nathalie Edmond is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of trauma from a mindfulness based and somatic approach. She is also a yoga teacher and anti-racism educator. She lives with her family in New Jersey.