Like many of you, I have watched the video of the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer. No words can fully describe the reaction. Tragically, videos like these just keep coming. Bleak statistics show that black and brown Americans are dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. The reason for this spike in COVID-19 cases is economic disparity, fueled by structural racism. This is a time for waking up.
The path of Insight meditation, cultivating compassion and mindfulness, offers a way to “wake up” to the truth of things as they really are. I am walking this path of awakening as a person who identifies as a cis-gender white woman. It is a humbling and profound practice to become conscious of what whiteness can mean in this context: unaware, privileged, entitled. My fragile ego can stay comfortable and protected. Quite frankly, this is painful to acknowledge.
Mindfulness is often translated as “remembering”. As a white person, I need to “remember” the truth of my privilege. I need to remember, even in moments when I am not confronted by the next horrific video, even when I’m not relying on a person of color to do the (unpaid) work of pointing it out to me. I can easily forget that racism is not “back then/over there”, but “right here/right now.” My whiteness confers the privilege of confronting the horrors of racial injustice when i choose.
For people of color, there is no choice. No reminders are needed. Racism is a stress-full part of life every single day.
At InsightLA we are learning ways to walk a path of awakening in these times. This is our pledge to you and to each other – let’s “wake up” together!