Someone asked a question on a Facebook page as to the spiritual response to race issues: when you see people as spirit, with the body being the carrier of the spirit, you take note of the energy of the person and not their skin pigmentation or culture. This is true and it is the practice of many people.
Yet we find ourselves within a racially divided tinderbox – races at odds – and we don’t know where to position ourselves. We can step aside and observe… and we can also take the opportunity to observe our own conditioning. What do we feel? What’s going on inside of us? That may answer the question of whether humanity can eventually rise above race issues.
Considering the history of this country, a black person would have to have accomplished quite a bit of individuation to go to a white person to learn about spirituality. Sounds kind of silly when you look at it, doesn’t it? We have our own work to do: to look within and work on ourselves, cultivating compassion, perception and light.
People tend to go to teachers that arise within their own human family, and there are some very great compassionate hearts that have taken on the burden of carrying the light within the black human family. So no worries. The light goes to all, in the form of one of their own, if they so need.
Today I’d like to urge that we shine the light into one of the darkest places in the collective human mind. I can take you there with two words: Trayvon Martin.
This article is going to be lengthy, and it has to be that way because there is much to say. I’ve covered it more deeply in my book, The Warrior’s Way to Heaven on Earth, which looks into the relationships and shadows of groups of people… our human families and the evolution of the group soul. But for now, we’ll walk through it as much as possible in this brief space.
When we talk about human families and their relationships, we see exploitation and conflict everywhere. Say the word racism, and we feel like we’ve entered a room in hell full of centipedes and spiders and slimy creatures. There are people in there too, with sword in hand, unable to begin to clear the space. Racism, prejudice, and the hate these sentiments and opinions engender is a global reality… and a toxic poison for the human spirit. In the US, racism is woven into the system and we cannot claim to be blind to it… it is blatant, especially in the creation and application of laws.
We want to believe that the justice system wears a blindfold and it doesn’t see color. We want to believe that we don’t see color. We want to live in a world where nobody sees skin pigmentation as having relevance. That world is possible for individuals who have groomed themselves to see divine spirit, higher self, all is energy. For those who have looked into the dark rooms, brought their shadows into light, and overcome their conditioning, the human being becomes the human being’s energy or information. So a renewed world of oneness is envisioned, is forming, and is to be our world one day.
But in this current world we have what we have: separation, us and them, negative experiences of human families over centuries, groups relating to and acting upon other groups based on conditioning or programming. In order to understand the problems that we call political, social or cultural, we might want to add spiritual to the mix. Can we do some spiritual work here, and look inside the other group, attempting to see what others might be experiencing, and to see ourselves through their eyes?
Empathy is very good, but it can be misplaced if we don’t understand what we’re empathizing with. Awareness of ‘what is’, is always good. Without awareness, inaccurate conclusions can be reached and emotional reactions can be based on the misperception of something being hostile when in fact it is not. Empathy, awareness, and familiarity serve to dissolve the opinions that are part of our conditioning; fed and nurtured by the programming of the ‘divide and conquer’ fear generating system that we live under.
In a movie I watched last night I heard this line: “To know thyself is only possible through the eye of the other.” To that statement, I’d say… yes and no. To know thyself in the ‘true self’ exploration as an individual, does not require the eye of the other. But to know thyself when in relationship with the other, you must be able to see yourself through the eyes of the other.
Not seeing color is a privilege that white people hold. I have never heard a black person, or any other person of color say that they don’t see color. When you’ve been under assault in one form or another for a long, long time, colorblindness is not an option. Are there some misperceptions that go along with seeing from the ‘under assault’ position? Yes, of course there are.
My son has a neighborhood friend whose parents illegally entered the US from Mexico. The young man was born here, went to school, and recently graduated from high school. Within the last year his father has been deported back to Mexico, leaving the family in dire straits, having to rent rooms to survive. The young friend came to our house the other day with a letter from the US Selective Service. It was about the military draft registration that every 18 year old is required to do upon graduating high school.
He hadn’t signed and sent his letter in and now the second letter arrived. It mentioned fines and jail time for failing to register. The young man was panicked… convinced that he was personally being targeted and that he was going to have to go to jail. My son told him that it wasn’t personal and he wasn’t being singled out and targeted… just sign it and send it in. The young man was delighted, and so relieved. Problem solved… but you can see how experience colors perception.
A few months ago a satirical video went viral. It was about the new president of the National Rifle Association making statements that he looked forward to the time when, “we can own black people again.” I read the comments and realized it was satire. Well, as it turns out an awful lot of black people believed that it was true. It was re-posted and commented upon as real news. Once again… experience colors perception.
Let’s look at some more, only this time it’ll be conditioning and programming that colors perception. A week or so ago I listened to a friend being interviewed by a radio host from New Zealand who kept bringing up the Trayvon Martin ‘race riots’ in America. As we know, at this point there have been no race riots… there are protest marches. Where did his excitement about race riots come from? He also excitedly reported on ‘black on black’ murder. Is anybody reporting on ‘white on white’ murder with the accompanying condemnation and disdain? How about male on male murder?
He then diminished black people by saying they should wise up and be concerned about eugenics programs targeting blacks. Does he think there is no concern about that? This is an unaware man, conditioned and programmed, believing that his perception of events is the right one… he knows ‘what is’. I could come up with many more conditioned and programmed reactions that I’ve heard or read, but there is no need. You can imagine.
Let’s look at one more perception, that of David Banner, actor and rap musician: “Our people have been activated, and I don’t just mean black people, I mean poor people. It’s way bigger than black and white. It is about black and white because it affects black people… yeah, we die. But the real game is poor and rich. They pit us against each other and keep us distracted while they get the money.”
Is that entirely accurate, or somewhat accurate? I would say somewhat accurate. The ‘pitting us against each other’ strategy works so well because it skillfully uses past experience, conditioning and programming, fear, and guilty knowledge. Yes, it’s bigger than black and white, but no, it’s not bigger than deeds that are ‘in the record’ of our lives.
I am a white mother of two black sons. The older son has a light complexion and the younger is dark. My older son has never been pulled over by the police. The younger one was pulled over seven times in two months, never ticketed, nothing was ever found on him… he was profiled as criminal, plain and simple. He was even forcibly pulled from the car through the window during one stop, when he was too slow in getting out. He knows how to submit to police and sit quietly for 45 minutes while they try to find some reason to take him in. He does this to save his life.
I know that the response from the black community to the Trayvon Martin killing is not about one young man. Many thousands of young black men have been killed for fitting the profile of criminality, or simply because of hatred and overzealous, programming-driven policing. What the response to Trayvon Martin comes from, is the long, painful experience of parents not knowing if their sons are going to make it home from the store. Is this a case of the media trying to trump up a race war? That’s another yes and no answer. They’ve tried to trump it up (and obviously failed in getting the riots they wanted), but the pain is not trumped up.
Fitting the profile is not exclusive to black people either. There are areas of the country where our young Mexican friend would fit the profile, and other areas where Arabs would fit the profile, or Native Americans. It all depends upon who the boogie man is. The boogie man is the shadow, and the shadow is our fear of retaliation for our own collective wrongdoing – guilty knowledge.
Deep within we must know. In order to hide that awareness from ourselves we build up a mountain of justifications: Trayvon Martin was a thug (he was an ordinary teen); the media are trying to stir this up (yes they are); Zimmerman was afraid for his life (for real? I wonder why he was in that position); what he did was within the law (a savage law that is applied unequally): and more and more and more. The ego, when challenged, becomes even more forceful in its justifications and assertions of rightness and defense of self.
What do I hear from black people? I hear from quite a few who are ready to leave the US and go to a place where the majority population is black. They’re skilled, experienced and ready to build elsewhere as this country will never correct itself… such is their belief. I hear from others who are hurt and angry, and want to see political changes here. Conclusions: The US government cannot re-examine its soul, but individuals can. I am pleased to see the numbers of white people, especially the young, participating in the Trayvon marches as it speaks well for them.
Political efforts cannot solve this. While the financial and political realms may rule our lives, the spiritual rules our response to our lives. We can respond with empathy, awareness, and willingness to see through another’s eyes.
I don’t recommend joining in the emotional wave, but I do recommend being aware of the poisoning of the spirit and the drip drip of opinions that are fed to us, telling us how to think and what to be angry about. I’d say just try one creative tactic: in your imagination, change the race of the participants in every one of the situations that come up, and be completely honest with yourself about the imagined outcome. Skip the ego’s opinion and go with the light of the compassionate heart.