A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, goes the old adage.
The de-construction of an ‘’ism’’ that’s been barricaded in your basement on lock down for a long time: this has been my tendentious journey the last almost twenty years of my life. Over the years, I’ve made acquaintance with my own biases, prejudices, and racialized thinking/behavior.
First, comes the unlearning of old social conditioning patterns, self-introspected stuck points. Next comes the relearning of accurate information on race that you can be sure you trust enough to put it into your brain—this needs to be comprehended first before it can be digested & assimilated into your consciousness.
But the most arduous part of this journey has been the day-to-day actions & behaviors, thought patterns, revisiting belief systems,attitudes, stereotypical thinking, feelings, biases, and unaware pieces of unconscious ‘’isms’’ that float up from the base of our unconscious into conscious awareness.
By now, I’m sure you can see that many ‘’isms’’ operate by the same dynamics as any form of oppression would.
The acronym from the field of General Semantics (GS) has been called W.I.G.O., meaning ‘’What is going on out there, and what’s going on inside me, inside my Central Nervous System & other brain chemistry effects?’’ How do we evaluate what is fact and what is a ‘sincere fiction.’
Acting mindfully is growing in awareness of how our bag of skin, bones, flesh, blood, organs, synapses, Central Nervous System respond inwardly, to incomings (incoming stimuli).
Using this GS principle of mindful awareness to see my ‘’isms’’ has helped me to stay in touch with all parts of myself (my selves) and the communal world around me.
So, if I’m having a conversation about race with another person and we hit a ‘’touchy’’ area that I guard like dudes who work for Brinks guard their loot, then I get squirmy & defensive; however, if I’m aware that the part o mybody that is my shock absorber is my stomach. I’m having a felt body sensation towards some piece of what we’ve been conversating about.
When we really think about it, as has been said elsewhere, ‘The body knows.’
Wounds often get stuck in the body somewhere, in some specific part of our body, and they cause unconscious and automatic changes in our bodies & brain chemistry.
So this is a good place to start this self-contemplative tool of mindful awareness, i.e., being with our body.
I don’t mean while we’re sitting on a meditation pillow; I mean where we go out in the world, interacting with the larger, and maybe louder, more distracting world that surrounds us all.
Why not use the One (or whatever you prefer to call your Higher Power) to help you remain open & natural to the spaciousness of all the world’s objects & beings. Remain open, and through mindful awareness, whenever you encounter stimuli in the form of ‘’race talk;’’ race talk invariably will bring out our ignorance, our blindness, & our guardedness, when asked to be a part of honest conversations. Essentially, there are three ‘’cliched’’ (but true) questions we can use as a kind of self-inquiry:
Ø ” What do you mean when you tell me that my verbal & non-verbal communication is incongruent?
Ø ‘’When I look at a person with darker-hued skin tone than me, I don’t see color.’’
Ø ‘’I’m not racist, but . . .’’
©Christopher Bear-Beam September 11, 2015