The following is a collection of wisdom from my teachers. This list is ongoing, and this list is never finished. You’re welcome to make adjustments or additions to these intentions; diverse perspectives are encouraged. Read with discernment. What I have to say may resonate differently for everyone. Take what you need and leave the rest.
- Listen to one another. Welcome disagreement. Polarities between us are a learning opportunity. Recognize the sense of injustice from all sides.
“Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.”– Audre Lorde, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House
2. Practice non-violence. That is to say, practice the intention of not harming or restricting another’s freedom of body, mind, or soul. That is not to say, douse your inner flame that acts as an indicator of injustice. Anger is empowering energy; it transforms any situation it touches.
“Is it not violent for a child to go to bed hungry in the richest country in the world? I think that is violent. But that type of violence is so institutionalized that it becomes a part of our way of life. Not only do we accept poverty, we even find it normal.”– Stokely Carmichael, Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism
3. Release guilt, and free yourself from the cycle of shame. It is not productive for any of us. We inherit generations-worth of guilt, shame, insecurity, and emotions that bind us. A lot of the guilt we experience is false. Someone somewhere echoed the painful mistruths that someone else told them. True guilt comes from accountability, which is the first step in the healing process.
“Let us figure out ways of naming bodily difference that fosters comfort and joy. Let us build a politics that holds space, safety, options, and shuts no one out. Let us pay attention to shame as an issue of health and wellness, community and family. Let us create the space to make our bodies home, filling our skin to its very edges.”– Eli Clare, Resisting Shame: Making Our Bodies Home
4. Approach conflict with compassion and empathy. This land belongs to all of us, regardless of nations, borders, or property. Humans share this life-giving planet with every plant, animal, and creature. Compassion for another is compassion for oneself.
“But the skin of the earth is seamless. The sea cannot be fenced, el mar does not stop at the borders”– Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera
5. Practice accountability, introspection, and self-awareness. We influence and affect each other every moment. Be mindful of how your presence affects those around you.
“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”– Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race
6. Learn your history. Learn their history. Seek the stories that were kept from you. Seek the truth that was meant to be hidden.
“Nobody is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”– Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
7. Forgive and accept forgiveness. Forgiveness does not excuse harmful behavior but offers peace in spite of it. This is not an event that happens; it is a practiced mindset. Humans make perpetual mistakes. Forgive them, forgive yourself, forgive us all.
“A culture of domination is anti-love. It requires violence to sustain itself. To choose love is to go against the prevailing values of the culture.”– bell hooks, Love as the Practice of Freedom
8. Release the fear. Seek to dismantle forces that perpetuate the pain, suffering, and oppression all bodies experience.
“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us…. It is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”– Audre Lorde, Transformation of Silence into Language & Action