Saturday, May 13, 2006

Racists Anonymous

Fifteen years ago, when I stopped drinking and drugging, I needed to--I was blacking out after two beer and prostituting myself to stay high. But if you asked me and I told you the truth, I was in a downtown detox in Vancouver BC NOT because I cared about myself or wanted to be sober but because I wanted to "get out of the dog house."

My ex-husband had taken strong-arm custody of our six year-old son and changed the locks on our Wall Street apartment, just up from skid row. I also had a crush on a conservative guy in detox and wanted to impress him (read get laid) by reading the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

You might say I got sober for all the "wrong" reasons.

Or did I? I'm sober today. Today I care about myself. So maybe ANY reason to get sober is a good one.

Max over at Freeslave has proposed that a 12-step program be started to end racism.

After my insides rebelled against his ideas for weeks, (he had mentioned it to me in person before he wrote this) I awoke this morning and like a good habit got on my knees to start my day. But this time instead of saying, "God I am powerless over drugs and alcohol. Please keep me clean and sober today..." I said, "God/Goddess, I am powerless over my racist conditioning. Please remove this infection from my mind today. Guide me to the healthiest cross-cultural relationships possible today. Help me accept, respect, connect and support myself and others based on our character and not the color of our skin. Amen."

There was a time, when I began the inner work of healing from the hurts of being born into the oppressor role, that I probably DID come from 100% white guilt or wanting to "belong" with people of color as much as white people. I might have just wanted to atone for all the privilege I inadvertently receive from being born of Euruopean heritage in the United States. But my teachers (mostly of color) were clear that guilt was NOT helpful in ending racism. And that if I really wanted to be affective I would need to release that guilt. They assured me that underneath my guilt was a genuine desire for justice. This is what I came into the world with and this--this desire for connection with other humans and for justice to be set--was my nature NOT the racist conditioning and NOT the guilt.

So, you could say I began to end racism for all the wrong reasons!

And, since Max has brilliantly suggested using a 12-step format for ending racism, I get a daily reprieve based on my spiritual condition.

It's one day at a time. To all my white friends reading this. A lifetime of conditioning and guilt don't get blotted out in one day. But they can be removed one day at a time. It does get better.

Mistakes will be made. But as I was taught in recovery. You can always begin your day over at any time by hitting the deck and turning it over to your higher power...

Ya know, I've used listening and being listened to as a way to knock off huge chunks of my own white guilt and racist conditioning. My life has changed in obvious and moving ways. I have a bigger life and pieces of myself back that were stolen. It does get better. I still get misunderstood alot and accused of just gratifying myself by the work I do. But I don't let it stop me from doing what I love.

Last night on the way home from dropping off a friend and her three sons--all of African heritage--from an intro class on listening to each other, my husband was upset that it was late and the kids and him didn't get to be with me at dinner and bedtime. He let it slip, "Glad you're getting the FULFILLING life you want!" he said snidely. (He doesn't really think that way, he was venting. But I get that a lot from the most unlikely places.)

I said, "Well it was a small sacrifice for our family to make considering what these families are going through."

And friend it's gotten to the point where I did that because I CAN and I know how, NOT to "feel better" about myself. (I sometimes feel worse the more aware I become.) I already am good. I was born good. It's about BEING not DOING. If I never did another thing. I'm still good. :-) )That's something my AA sponsor told me, who by the way went out of her way to give me a hand. This helped HER stay sober and me at the same time.

Similarly, when I work to end racism or to build cross-cultural friendships and alliances I keep the racist conditioning that is still all around me from infecting MY mind. I get myself back. The little Cindy. I also, little by little, end racism which is hurtful to people of color. Hmm.

"I pray for more faith today than I had yesterday."

"Please remove the obsession that I'm better than, smarter than, more deserving of privilege than people of color or that I get to live on their backs. Just for today."


Blogger JGanschow said...

From one Ganschow to another, AMEN!! What a truly wonderful world it would be if people would only open their hearts and embrace their neighbors, regardless of race, sex, or social standing! Congratulations on your new life of freedom!

2:28 PM PDT  
Anonymous Susan Eckert said...


As ever, you're a brilliant ray of light in an ever-darkening world. I often feel a fading sense of hope and optimism after reporting on the terrible condition of race relations around the globe...but then I come to your site and your words and honesty rekindle the fires of hope yet again!

Thank you!

Susan Eckert
Race Relations Guide

7:21 AM PDT  
Blogger Sea's Blog said...

Thanks Susan, You're welcome. Maybe something I come up with will work for your site. I haven't forgotten your invite.

7:51 AM PDT  
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9:18 AM PDT  
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10:02 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:04 AM PDT  
Blogger Sea's Blog said...

Thank you. I appreciate your enthusiasm.

9:49 AM PDT  

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