Classroom for the Soul
Updated: Jul 22
Onstage with my dear childhood friend, Dorothea Butler.
How are you feeling? It’s been a tough week. I actually wrote this post last weekend, but then I was feeling too overwrought to post it. I felt like I needed to process all that was happening, so, commenting in real time didn’t feel right for me.
Here’s what I started to write:
“After witnessing George Floyd’s horrific murder, tensions are running high and people are hurt and angry and frightened. In my life, I have black family and friends and neighbors, so I’ve been having a lot of anxious feelings. Whereas I’m usually able to eliminate anxiety by staying in the moment, this moment in time is intense…”
I’m editing out the rest since I don’t like the fearful direction it was going in. I believe in affirmative prayer and therefore I make a conscious effort not to affirm any energy that I don’t want manifested in the world. That’s mainly why I needed to take time to process all that was happening; to center myself in meditation and prayer. By restructuring my thoughts and words, I can feel like I’m contributing positively towards the change I want to see, instead of adding noise.
After a few days, I saw this powerful and poignant photo which said it all and it inspired me to articulate these thoughts (Originally posted on IG):
“My family is a rainbow and this little girl could easily be a member. Black lives matter. They matter to me, they matter to my family, they are my family! I pray for my family and I pray for humanity. This is a monumental moment in history, we need to open our eyes, our hearts and our souls. This moment in time must be met with compassion and with the courage to examine our souls and our society and to set our goals and vision for a better future for ALL people, regardless of their skin color, race or religion.
We must seek a more just and humane society. We must seek truth and justice. We must not be complacent or discouraged. We must examine our personal history, and world history. We can all change for the better. We are capable of so much better! Work for change and for peace. Don’t forget the work once the headlines change. Focus on the greater good and do your part. Listening and learning is a good place to start.”
Even though I’m Mexican & Costa Rican, through the genetic lottery, my skin tone and eye color make me white. Which means I have a lot to learn about those suffering from racism. True, I have observed it first hand, from the uncomfortable position of being a child whose dark-skinned Mexican mother was frequently mistaken as my nanny, but I have white privilege, whereas some of my closest relatives do not. My skin color has made me privy to a world that likely would have been off-limits to many of my forebears, including those distant ancestors I’ve only just learned of, who originated in West and North Africa. Knowing that their DNA flows through my veins and that they were likely slaves, makes me want to examine not only my roots, but the roots of racism.
I believe the world is the classroom for the soul. I believe we are all here to learn to be better, kinder, more loving, inclusive and compassionate beings. It’s a tough assignment and there is so much at stake: our humanity and our souls and our future. I also believe there is a reason that we are all deliberately here at this moment in time. We each can and need to play a part. Being complacent is a choice; it makes one complicit in perpetuating this racial injustice. Some people sleep walk through their lives and never feel a compulsion to reach for higher ideals. George Floyd’s horrific death has shaken many people out of their complacency and compelled them to act for the greater good.
I am grateful to see so many people doing good. There are a lot more people wanting to do good, but they don’t know where to start. Start with goodness. Start with love. Start with compassion. Start by listening to your conscious and your soul. You’ll find that you have a unique gift or talent that you can use for good. We have so much to contribute, but we also have so much to learn. We can always learn more. Some people are already armed with knowledge and ready to help, but even they can learn.
I wrestled with how to help. I'm not an artist whose work typically focuses on social justice, but I felt compelled to write. The whole prospect made me feel uncomfortable, so I took that as a good sign because anytime I learn something new it's initially uncomfortable. I'm a life-long student - - I love learning and growing. And I love sharing what I learn. The main thing I’ve learned is that it all starts with love and compassion.
Sending you all love & light,
Here’s what I want to share…
We who are victims of racism are often working three jobs simultaneously… by Dandy Wellington
What You’re Seeing Are People Pushed to The Edge by Kareem Abdul Jabar
My Mother Spent Her Life Passing As White by Gail Lukasik
“The Storm, The Whirlwind and The Earthquake” a portrait of Frederick Douglas by Bisa Butler
Keedron Bryant sings “I Just Want To Live”
National Museum of African American History and Culture has introduced a digital program of videos, role-playing exercises and question-based activities, exploring race, racial identity and its influence on American society.
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