As you embark on your journey towards racial consciousness and awareness, feelings of disbelief, hurt, shame or guilt may overwhelm you. For others, feelings of validation, pain, and anger may show up, connecting you closer to the knowledge that you were already aware of. Knowing the truth on race and oppression can be overwhelming causing some of us to gravitate towards running away from the discomfort and returning to the safe bubble that we have created for ourselves. Yet, some of us don't have that luxury. For others, you may want to explode and scream out loud at feelings of pain for what has been happening right now in our society, and at the same time crying out tears of relief that these stories are being shared and bringing about awareness. Regardless of where you find yourself, in order to combat the root causes of race and oppression, we must lean into the discomfort. I recently began to watch the HBO documentary series Exterminate All the Brutes. As I watched Part I which speaks to the beginning of white supremacy, taking us back to where "race, color, and blood" became institutionalized for the first time, there were so many moments where I had to pause, close my eyes and just breathe. I found myself recentering and grounding myself in order to be able to click the play button and continue. I recall thinking to myself that this is information that I know, knowledge that is not foreign to me yet I'm struggling a bit as I'm watching and reflecting. And as I recentered myself, I began to lean into the discomfort, walking through the anger, and sadness, then taking it all in as I knew I should, rather than run away from what was being revealed to me.
We live in a society where access and lack of access are made available to certain groups categorized by skin color. In the HBO documentary series, the narrator, Raoul Peck, brilliantly speaks to how "a simple pigmentation of variation is converted to a source of power" and how the concept of how whiteness has been perpetuated through European systems of civilization, colonialism, and exploitation of the West. This raising of awareness in our consciousness is just the beginning. An opportunity for each of us to walk through this personal journey with clarity, reflection, and understanding. I encourage us to lean into this, use our self as an instrument for change, and let's begin together.