During the 2020 riots in Atlanta following the murder of Mr. George Floyd, a friend said to me that all white people in America need to ask ourselves, “What are black people saying to us that we are not hearing, that we don’t, can’t, and won’t hear?” I think about this question often now.
Please read Article 1. From the link: “Let us instead remember when King refused to denounce protesters by saying “a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
The link quotes Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.: “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
The heart of the yoga practice is learning, unlearning, and relearning; over and over again rediscovering how to pay attention, to see clearly again in every situation. Why do we do this? To become better at listening before responding when we are attempting to do right action in our practice and in the world.
Much of my daily practices (with and beyond asana) now includes learning, unlearning the untruths I learned, then relearning by listening, “unlistening” to those untruths I heard, and then again relistening. This process of calibration and refinement leads our doing to undoing, then redoing. Richard Rohr (citation below) and other teachers of all tradition define this as THE spiritual path.
Honoring the legacy of the Martin Luther King King Jr. requires that we, white people especially, listen, learn, feel, understand, and respond. The message has not changed – the voices expressing the message have changed, and yet the message has not changed. How can you become a better listener? This IS our practice.
This past Saturday in Arizona, his son, Martin Luther King III said that “We are not here to celebrate” and “we are tired of being patient” regarding Voting Rights in America (Article 2). While voting legislation just tips the iceberg of what requires our listening and responding, the voting issue DEMANDS ATTENTION and ACTION NOW as we move into the 2022 and 2024 election cycles.
One step to take: please support www.FairFight.com which is confronting the current obstacles and barriers being placed (AGAIN!) in the way of full democratic participation.
Also please also consider supporting the Georgia campaigns for:
Stacey Abrams – Governor
Dr. Jason Hayes (Lt. Governor)
Dr. Raphael Warnock (US Senator)
Bee Nguyen (GA Sec of State)
Rohr, Richard. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Jossy-Bass: A Wiley Imprint. San Francisco, CA. 2011.