I want to acknowledge all of the support demonstrated by my readers for anti-racism and for the acknowledgment that Black Lives Matter. As many of you know, my blog posts focus on sharing my personal experience and what I am learning and seeing more deeply related to the experience of living in the human form with more love and understanding.
I share with the intent of being of service, and I encourage you to use my reflections to stimulate your own personal inquiry so you look inward and listen deeply to the wisdom of your true nature. From there, your actions will reflect your best understanding in the moment.
I was very clear in my post last week that I support the Black Lives Matter movement. This is not something new. It is just not something I have shared in my blog before. I was bewildered when I was asked to listen to Bill O’Reilly and watch Tucker Carlson as if I was not informed about my opinion. I want to be clear my statement was not a naive jumping on the bandwagon proclamation. It was thoughtful, knowledgeable, and long-held.
I received further feedback and have extracted some key points I think are important to refute here. I realize by now that my blog is probably preaching to the choir. If that is the case, I hope you find the solidarity affirming and sustaining. I know I am grateful to not be alone on this journey. I am particularly grateful for my good friend Aparna Bakhle for providing love and support as well as resources to help me address these points. It feels important to me to not stay silent in the face of these assertions. I am hoping my voice will encourage you to speak up and share your voice. It may not be over these matters, but I encourage you to listen to the voice of your wisdom and follow the call within you.
I reject the following statements in bold:
“I do think that neutrality in these times is important.”
I do not think neutrality about racism is important. In particular, I want to clearly demonstrate my unequivocal rejection of neutrality and agree with Bishop Desmond Tutu’s statement:
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
In his article, “Anti-racism requires more than passive sympathy,” Joshu Virasami states: “To be anti-racist means to involve yourself directly in the movement to end racism, to take action. The first step toward becoming an anti-racist is reckoning with the fact that racism is systemic.”
I am not neutral about systemic racism, and my intention is to clearly share my lack of neutrality with resolve and care. Systemic racism does not mean all people in the system are racist. As Radley Balko asserts, “Of particular concern to some on the right is the term “systemic racism”, often wrongly interpreted as an accusation that everyone in the system is racist. In fact, systemic racism means almost the opposite. It means that we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them.”
“To come out and say “Black Lives Matter” is also condoning violence towards the police officers who have become victims of this hysteria and racism.”
The Black Lives Matter movement does not condone violence. Individual participants may act violently on occasion as do individuals in many movements, but violence is not the premise of Black Lives Matter.
As stated on the BLM website:
“#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”
BLM is advocating for meaningful political change which can only happen if we all, not just people of color, take a stand against racism. Taking a stand means moving beyond neutrality and passivity to becoming actively anti-racist.
“Could this race rhetoric be in our mindset?”
This is a statement that denies the facts and lived experiences of most people of color. It is also an example of what Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah would call racial gaslighting. Jacquelyn is a designer and writer who supports Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and educates about the impact of racism on the BIPOC communities. This is her Instagram handle: @ogorchukwuu
In her Instagram post, Jacquelyn explains “Gaslighting is when someone manipulates information to make the victim question their own experience, memory, or reality.” And this is what she says racial gaslighting sounds like:
- “If you protested/said it peacefully, more people would listen to you.”
- “What I said/did is not racist”
- “Racism doesn’t exist anymore”
- “It was just a joke, calm down”
- “________ people are racist too”
- “Why is it always about race?”
- “Are you sure that’s what happened?”
- “Just to play devil’s advocate here…”
- “In my opinion, I don’t think that they were being racist, I think…”
She also has another post about spiritual victim-blaming that highlights how insensitive these comments are when used to deny that racism exists:
- you are responsible for your reality
- what you experience is here to teach you
- you can fully heal from this if you do the inner work
- if you raise your vibration you won’t attract this energy
- don’t put too much focus into negative things like that
“My tax dollars will pay people who are illegal and unlawfully in this country but we will defund the police, lay off first responders – let’s break down the very infrastructure that keeps us safe.”
Defunding the police does not mean not having a budget for public safety, and police abolition does not mean that police will disappear overnight — or perhaps ever. As Daniel Riera shares in a comment on Facebook:
“Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what the government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need. It means investing more in mental-health care and housing, and expanding the use of community mediation and violence interruption programs.
Police abolition means reducing, with the vision of eventually eliminating, our reliance on policing to secure our public safety. It means recognizing that criminalizing addiction and poverty, making 10 million arrests per year and mass incarceration have not provided the public safety we want and never will. The “abolition” language is important because it reminds us that policing has been the primary vehicle for using violence to perpetuate the unjustified white control over the bodies and lives of black people that has been with us since slavery. That aspect of policing must be literally abolished.”
Historian Khalil Muhammad in his article, “How racist policing took over American cities, explained by a historian” explains that at this moment there is an opportunity “to define justice beyond an individual case or even cases, but to define justice as a form of limiting what police officers have been able to do, which is to protect white privileges in America. Some people call that defunding the police. Some people call it abolition. But what it all means is that there should be less policing of black America and more investment in the [socioeconomic] infrastructure of black communities. And police officers are not the people to do that work.”
Community-led public safety is proven to be an effective way to move forward as is being pursued by the Minneapolis City Council members.
“If this country put a black person in the White House I have faith that the majority of us are not racist.”
The idea that we live in a post-racist society in the U.S. because there was a black president is naive and contrary to the lived experience of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
“… it’s not ok to give a biased opinion or side with one rhetoric. I don’t blame the people who called you on it.”
Note: this is “Rohini’s Blog.” It is a space where I share my opinions. That is the intent. Just because you don’t agree with my opinions does not mean it is not okay for me to share them.
And although I do share my opinions, racism is not an opinion. It is a fact. Here is the link to an article by Radley Balko, “There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal-justice system is racist. Here’s the proof.”
I stick to “All Lives Matter” and maybe once we started saying that and punish the few people who exploit power and authority or the criminals – then we can eradicate racism because crime is crime whether you are black or brown or white or any shade.
This article provides a very clear explanation of why this statement misunderstands the intent of the BLM movement.
There is something being birthed right now in a powerful way that does not feel like there is going to be a return to the status quo. I know there is a long way to go and there is much to be done, but I feel a hopefulness about change and justice. The coming together of all people around the United States and across the globe speaks to the shift in consciousness and understanding. It should not have taken the brutal murder captured on video to open people’s eyes, but it unequivocally brought to light what African Americans have always known.
Now is the time to continue to take a stand in your way.
Join me in not being neutral on this issue. Take a stand against racism. Take a stand against injustice. Take a stand for love. There is a myriad of ways to do this. One of my ways is to speak up and be willing to take the heat that comes my way.
This is my loving choice. And if you are not comfortable with my voice, with my use of my platform, with love sounding like this, my recommendation is for you to take the time to reflect on what the source of your discomfort is. I know this much, it is not me.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.