I have taken some time off this past week from posting on Wednesday and Sunday not only to make sense and better understand racism, but to also amplify the Black/African American voices that desperately needed to be heard.
Being born and raised in Romania, a very homogeneous country in terms of race/skin color, means that everyone I knew and interacted with growing up was white. Everyone. There are multiple reasons for this but the most important is that we’ve never engaged in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and thus, did not forcefully weave another race into our historic tapestry.
Secondly, Romania has been under a totalitarian communist regime for 42 years until 1989, when the national revolution ended it, thus being literally shut off from the Western world and other democratic countries. After the communism fell and in the following decades, we witnessed the birth of a fledgling democracy that battled corrupt governments one after another, an economy striving to adapt to modern European laws and generally, a slow cultural, economical and social rebirth of the nation, with a tourism market slowly growing as well. Therefore, not much racial diversity on our streets and schools.
My first exposure to the African-American/Black community and culture came through the TV. In the 90’s, Romania’s National Public Television started broadcasting British, Italian, Hungarian, German, French and American TV shows, music and movies. That had never happened before under Ceausescu‘s rule, where only 2 hours of television per day were broadcasted, and those were dedicated mainly to praising the dictator and its regime. I remember trying really hard in middle school to practice the dance to MC Hammer‘s “Can’t touch this” song, and watching “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air“, although I did not understand much of it at that time. I only started English in 5th grade, French being the first foreign language to be taught in 1st grade, and Romanian being my native language.
Living in US for the past 8 years and working peacefully and harmoniously alongside other African Americans, I was not aware of the depth and the myriad ways racism has taken shape, primarily on American soil. The events transpiring in the media in the last few weeks made me realize that I have lots to learn about racism, how it has been perpetuated in US (and other countries), what it means to have “white privilege” and most importantly, that it is my duty to do so.
A huge curtain has been lifted and for those of us that were not aware of the depth of racism, we are called now to broaden our awareness, our compassion, to expand our hearts, to listen, believe and take action. At the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters of the same kind, human. The plight of the people of color is the plight of humanity. If one can be condemned due to its skin color, then we all can.
So, what can we do?
Believe the African Americans when they talk to you about the systemic racism they’re facing. Our minds and biases might jump to “but”, and “if”, and to counter arguments. Mark Manson has an excellent article on how to make sense of the chaos and uncertainty and how to understand our biases and their impact on our lives.
Be extra kind. To yourself and others, but especially to our African American brothers and sisters. The deep, collective psychological trauma that the Black/African American community has faced through slavery, then perpetuated through various racist acts, behaviors, attitudes and words can only be healed in time and through a joint commitment to the cause of reparations and healing and by raising our vibrational level.
Another way that traumas are being fueled is by dwelling on helplessness, anger, fear, anxiety, hatred….the more we focus on them, the more they expand in our lives and in our shared reality/world, clouding the good, the hope and our reason. For a true, everlasting change, the place of healing has to start from forgiveness and love. Therefore, meditate/pray/visualize for healing, peace and harmony between people of all races, nations, ethnicities, and especially for our Black/African-Americans. It is not enough to be anti-racist, we must consciously and deliberately strive for cooperation and respect. I loved this message by President Obama on how to transform this moment into a lasting movement for change.
Let’s educate ourselves! here is a a doc filled with anti-racism resources, a list of well known Black writers to learn more about and a list of books that explore the topic of race and injustice. And here are some TED talks dedicated to the subject.
Racism is taught and we can un-learn it. Better yet, let’s teach diversity to the very young. Here is a list of books to teach kids and teens about racism, white privilege and how to undo it.
We also must act! one way is to protest, peacefully, and stand alongside our brothers and sisters. Here’s how to protest safely.
We must also acknowledge, repair and correct. The Innocence Project is an organization I have been following for a while now. They work hard to exonerate the wrongly convicted, most of whom are disproportionately Black/African American, through DNA testing, as well as supporting reforms in the criminal justice system to prevent future injustices. There is a doc/series on neflix (The Innocence Files) about the work of the organization that I encourage you to watch. Here is a list of even more movies to watch dedicated to this topic.
If we are committed to eradicating racism, then let’s do it in all areas of our lives. Here is another excellent article that sheds light on how the porn industry promotes and capitalizes off racism. Remember, we become what we consume and porn is nowhere near harmless entertainment.
I have found this article so interesting! it is about how the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) have reformed their police system and successfully deal with crime, reducing it to almost non-existent.
Last but not the least, cookbooks! food, farming and access to nourishing, abundant fresh produce is intricately linked with racism and discrimination. But supporting and learning about a different culture/race through its cuisine is one way to bring it closer to you, to become smitten with it and thus, an advocate for it as well.
Here are some that I have my eye on:
In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World by Gabriele Galimberti (I’m planning on purchasing this one first because I have a very special place in my heart for grandmas, especially the one that raised me whom I miss so very much, every single day…)
Ooof, this is a lot, but our learning, or un-learning, is a life long process. We all play a part in contributing to a more just, tolerant and loving world. So share with me your thoughts down below and let me know of others resources that have helped you to better understand racism.
And my last week’s giveaway is still on! comment under last week’s post for a chance to win a 5 Minute Journal by Intelligence Change, a tool that helps you cultivate a daily gratefulness mindset, recognize the good in your life and envision a more authentic and positive life.
*photo taken by me during one of my walks, last fall.