So Many Silences – part four

by Julie on March 11, 2011 · 15 comments

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” ~ Audre Lorde

I’m beginning to understand something that I wanted to understand when I began this journey.

I’m beginning to know why I am silent about so many things and about why I am silent about what is happening to our world.

It is giving me even more clarity about why men might be silent, one of the impetuses for this exploration.

Glimmering clarity.

Lest I get too ahead of myself, I also know there is still much that is hidden.

What is hidden keeps me stuck. Stuck consciousness. Stuck life force. Stuck power. Power in a good, strong, vital way. Power that is life-affirming, like the power the cherry tree outside our house is showing me, right now, as the buds of soon-to-be blossoms begin to take form.

You can get a sense of the power that is released when we speak up and out with truth from these powerful and courageous posts by Jeanne and Angela.

It is the raw power that fuels all of life, the power of truth not wielded over others, but truth spoken form the core of one’s being, in service to freeing consciousness, which in turn frees us all. I can feel it in the words and it is beautiful.

What has become clear,

are some of the limiting beliefs and feelings of shame that keep us silent. I know we all feel shame of some sort.

Amy Neal Miyamoto, who wrote of white shame in the comments, shared this with me. It’s about white shame, excerpted from a book by an African American woman, Thandeka, Learning to be White: Money, Race and God in America. She was given the Xhosa name Thandeka, which means “beloved,” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984.
“white shame is this deeply private feeling of not being at home within one’s own white community. (p. 13) Shame is an emotional display of a hidden civil war. It is a pitched battle by a self against itself in order to stop feeling what it is not supposed to feel: forbidden desires and prohibited feelings that render one different.(p. 12)

“the Euro-American child,… is a racial victim of its own white community of parents, caretakers, and peers, who attack it because it does not yet have a white racial identity. Rather than continue to suffer such attacks, the Euro-American child defends itself by creating a white racial identity for itself. It begins to think and act like its community’s ideal of a white self. When the adult recalls the feelings and ideas it had to set aside in order to mound this defense, it feels shame. More precisely, white shame. …

The parts of (the child) that were not white had to be set aside as unloved and therefore unlovable. (p. 13) Shame is the death of an unloved part of the self because it, apparently, is just not good enough to be loved. (p.17)

When I read this,

“The parts of (the child) that were not white…” everything just stopped. Stopped.

Then, pop.

Wait a minute, I thought. Parts of me that were not white. Parts of me that are not white. It sounded so foreign, yet so true.

So foreign, because I so strongly identified with being white. It seems as if it’s been a given, all my life. I’ve always felt different than those that were not white. There felt like a gap of some sort.

So true, because I can feel, have been able to feel, those parts in my psyche that aren’t white, that never identified that way, that were put to sleep, way down inside.

Such a funny feeling. That gap = those parts and places inside that I have denied of my own wholeness.

Then, the remembering that there is no such thing as race. No such thing as race. I remember when I first learned that race is only a concept with no genetic validity. It’s a social construct (destruct?) created at some point to differentiate, to separate, to categorize, to stratify.

You know how it feels when something hits you that wakes you up? Wakes up a place that has been asleep for a long time? That’s what happened. Something big that had been stuck was now free.

Something important has been seen through.

I take it a step further from what I shared here of Thandeka’s words.

We all have all parts within us. Everything is within. The entire Universe, is inside each and everyone of us. The Universe is holographic, meaning the entire Universe is within. We each have all parts. Girl and boy; white, black, brown, yellow and red; straight and gay; dark and light; joyful and rageful. We all have these parts within us.

“The parts of (the child) that were not [insert quality not mirrored in family, community, country] had to be set aside as unloved and therefore unlovable.”

This very clear articulation of me having to disown those parts of myself that aren’t white fits. I know this somewhere deep inside. I feel joy in seeing this. There are parts of me that don’t feel ‘white’ at all.

For me, remembering these parts and knowing they didn’t die, is the key. I killed them in my consciousness, because that is how I created my ‘identity’. But, what is whole is whole. My unwhite parts, my gay parts, my indigenous parts, my rageful and bitchy parts, are still very much available to me and I celebrate this, because it means I am not so different than anyone else who has been classified as ‘other’.

Hallelujah.

We are much more alike

than we believe ourselves to be. And this is good news, for in releasing the illusion of separation, we find out that we are indeed one consciousness robed as billions of separate human beings.

Just this realization has released even more life force, more stuck consciousness, more remembering of my whole self.

My knowing I am more like you does not mean I know your pain, your experience, your oppression, your privilege, or your lack of any of these things. Rather, it has created an opening of desire to connect, to hear, to listen, to know and to love. It has opened my eyes and my heart ever more widely to my true nature, while also giving me a greater capacity to embody all these parts of myself that I thought I had cast away so long ago.

Many of you have written

about why you don’t speak up, why you silence yourself.

“I don’t dare speak up because i am not worthy. I am white. I am middle class. I am not worthy.”

“Thank you for this post. It made me accept that I need to remain part of the conversation. Sometimes I think I have no right.”

“My voice doesn’t matter. How dare i say anything? Me, who’s had it so easy.”

These words ring in my ears. “Sometimes I think I have no right.”

How many of us believe we have no right to speak up? No right to be in the conversation? No right to speak up for ourselves, the earth, all those who can’t speak, for all the world’s children that are, right now, suffering greatly?

How many of us hear a shrill internal voice, harshly berating us with, “Who do you think you are?”

I ask you

to think about this, something my good friend, Judith Cohen, shared in her comment on part one:

A thought just passed through my mind thinking about oppression and comparing oppressions. I wonder if comparison is just another way the patriarchy tricks us into believing that there is not enough heart and compassion to go around. Patriarchy is so much about hierarchy and power. Certainly, it’s convenient and an energy saver not to have to consider those whose experiences fall lower in the hierarchy. But hierarchy doesn’t exist in support of love. It lives to support a small number of people wielding power over others. We’ve “democratized” hierarchy by letting more diverse people in at the top but hierarchy is still a system that says “NO!” to most people. It continues to poison all of our relationships by asserting that some of us are better than others or that some type of pain is more worthwhile than another.

to feel what Niki Andre shared as a comment on part three:

I’m frustrated by the divisive undercurrents of guilt and blame that distract us
From getting down to the crux:

It is necessary for us
To dispell the silence as One.

Love.
This us and them mentality,
Their divide and conquer legacy…
This is it isn’t it?
This is what keeps us
Aching separately.
Achingly separate.
Alienated.
Alienating.
Too factioned and fragmented to effectively rise up;
Conditioned for infighting,
We are easily quieted or confounded to remain stuck;
The silenced majority remains

Underprivileged.

This system of patriarchy doesn’t live on its own. It can’t. Patriarchy is not a thing. It is not men. It lives in people and in the things people create out of patriarchal beliefs. We breathe life into it when we act from the beliefs and thoughts that habitually feed our choices.

Our internalized patriarch tricks us into making many choices the heart would never choose.

We are all very underprivileged when we allow ourselves to be silenced.

Who do you think you are?

Who do I know I am?

A woman infused with life, infused with the sacred light of love, infused with a basic goodness, living and breathing the sacred feminine. A woman who can, and must, choose in each moment to bring her full self to the conversation for the sake of what is being born.

::

This post is the fourth in a series of posts on Silence, Privilege and Oppression. You’ll find part one, part two, and part three important preludes to this post, as well as this interlude a beautiful expression of how powerful it is to voice what is dying to be said.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Jordan Scott March 11, 2011 at 11:43 am

I love synchronicity. Last night the women of the VDay 2011 Community Campaign in Bakersfield gathered to share our OWN Vagina Monologues, not the ones we will perform in a weeks time that were written by Eve Ensler.

It was awesome to hear each woman.

To see each woman – the youngest, 18 years old, the eldest, in her late 50′s – share an intimate piece of herself… was phenomenal. We need more of these vagina bearing communities.

I am still getting up the courage to post my monologue publicly. I say a lot of “not so nice girl things” in it and you know what that can bring… public embarrasment and shame… right?

Snickers, titters, pointed fingers, laughing, humiliation, taunting, barbs, jabs, degradition against all things feminine. Just like so many movements with women at the forefront that frighten the status quo.

(And something I love about the VDay movement, we continue doing it, especially continue doing it, because of that.)

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Amy Miyamoto March 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

Julie,
I look forward to reading your monologue once it is posted. I am already on the sidelines cheering you on. Your experience makes me that much more excited to go see the Vagina Monologues here next month (with my good friend making her directorial debut) exciting!

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Julie March 12, 2011 at 7:47 am

Ah, Julie.

How spectacularly wonderful. I would so love to read your ‘not so nice girl things’. When, when will you post them?

May we frighten the status quo out of its dangerous complacency and greed-filled ways. May we love our ownselves enough to wake ourselves up to the beauty of our own vaginas, breasts, bellies, hips, and all parts of our glorious female bodies.

Sending you big love,

Julie

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Amy Miyamoto March 11, 2011 at 11:50 am

Julie your words speak directly to my heart. You have so eloquently explored some very important and powerful mechanisms that are unfortunately still at work in the final phase of the patriarchy that is beginning to crumble. This post has chipped away that much more of the unconscious power of silence that has existed. I so appreciate Judith Cohen’s comment about remaining every mindful of the comparison of oppressions and how this act alone further deepens the separation between each of us who are all part of a Universal Whole. I thank you again for both your courage in breaking these silences and for your beautiful lyrical artistry with which you convey what is in your heart.

P.S. I recently had the Soul Languages of my business identified and two of the three are the Prophet and the Graceful Warrior – So it is no surprise that I resonate completely with your message!

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Julie March 12, 2011 at 7:37 am

Dear Amy,
Thank you for your generous words. And, thank you for adding so much to this exploration and conversation.
It is crumbling across so many levels.
Yes, Judith’s words are really helpful and meaningful. She is a wise woman.
I can see why these resonate with you and your business. How beautiful.
I’m so glad to call you friend.
Love,
Julie

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Renae C March 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

The parts of (the child) that were not white had to be set aside as unloved and therefore unlovable. (p. 13) Shame is the death of an unloved part of the self because it, apparently, is just not good enough to be loved. (p.17)

When I read this,

“The parts of (the child) that were not white…” everything just stopped. Stopped.

Then, pop.
———————————————

I do not know exactly how to describe the feeling of reading words followed by words that so accurately describe my own reaction to the first words I read. I know that sounds convoluted. It feels confused and clarifying all at the same time.

My homework assignment from my own personal work I do in this journey toward wholeness this week was to take a dream image, one that was most definitely not white and also not female, and work with the image to see if I could identify how that image was a part of me. So reading these words, this afternoon, almost feels like being hit by a bolt of lightning. Of course. Of COURSE. We all have every bit of any polarity we can come up with inside of us. Different ones of us just recognize different parts to different degrees. But wholeness is just that, all-encompassing. And in the recognition of what we left behind as we shaped an identity to meet the constructs of the family, community, socio-economic group, religion, country or whatever other group imposed limitations onto us – in reclaiming those lost parts of ourselves – we will find our own soul and the soul of all.

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Amy Miyamoto March 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Beautiful Renae! Thank you for sharing your experience of these concepts.

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Julie March 12, 2011 at 7:34 am

Renae,
I know exactly what you mean!
I’m so glad the words that Amy shared, written by Thandeka, resonated, clarified and lightening-bolted you, too. It’s powerful when what was so unconscious, once again becomes conscious.
You write so eloquently of what can happen when we relcaim these lost parts.
I feel so much more alike and connected than different and separate.
I love you being such a vital part of this community.
Love,
Julie

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Niki Andre March 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Love this example. Can so relate to identifying with those “other” parts of my persona that show up in my dreams. Not sure where I first read this but I’ve heard peace defined as “the coming together of all things.” I think that’s what we’re moving towards as we start to see ourSelves as “all-encompassing.” Peace.

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Elizabeth Marie March 12, 2011 at 10:28 am

I feel like I am about to write in ellipses, starting thoughts that I can’t quite finish, veering off to something else. From my life last night (yesterday in general was a large and dramatic day for me): I went to a band competition, rode the bus as a chaperone, watched as the judges expressed a bias against our little high school because of where we are or maybe because of something they…

No, that’s not what I want to say.

Moments last night…

No, not yet.

The discussion of parts not white, my ethnicity, which I rarely remember, how I forget …

No, I can’t here. I will “blog.” (or in my case, journal in public.) I am sorry this is all over the place. Things are coming up as I read this series that are inconveniently profound, that are reaching raw places. The timing cannot be a coincidence. Thank you again, and I’m sorry to take up so much room blathering on like this, processing aloud without considering how … well, I was going to say “how ridiculous” I look, but maybe I just look lost?

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Renae C March 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

You look a lot like I feel most of the time. When deep things start to emerge and old stuff starts to shift and you can’t find solid ground underneath your feet, sometimes the words are hard to come by. “Journaling in public” — I’m so glad to now have a name for what it is I think I mostly do on my blog. Join the club, feel ridiculous, and give those inconveniently profound thoughts a home. I have a sense the rest of us need to hear them.

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rachael maddox March 15, 2011 at 7:22 am

these conversations are sinking deep into my heart. i’m feeling how true it is for the wholeness of our love-based-power to emerge.

this is such an important reminder, too:

This system of patriarchy doesn’t live on its own. It can’t. Patriarchy is not a thing. It is not men. It lives in people and in the things people create out of patriarchal beliefs. We breathe life into it when we act from the beliefs and thoughts that habitually feed our choices.

we are free to choose — love or fear, consciousness or blindness, opening or closing.

thank you thank you thank you, for theses passages, these vast openings of truth.

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Megan McFeely March 15, 2011 at 7:49 am

Julie — what struck me here…is the idea that a person has no right to speak up. I am going to be contrary, but that in my mind is a way to hide from responsibility. It is an excuse one tells one’s self so problems can be avoided. Speaking up is a responsibility and can be terrifying, for one can be attacked…. but one does it because it is the right thing to do (yes of course there are times when it is appropriate not to speak up….discernment is very important.)
I am one that speaks up….and I get attacked. I also do not speak up…but more often I do. I really am tired of being the one labeled as angry and a bitch because of the “nice” girls in the world. Hey I have an idea…let’s trade jobs…you speak up and I will be nice!?

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wholly jeanne March 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

oh my goodness, julie, you honor me with a mention here, with a reference to my “yam” post;) though it was a struggle to get to the push-the-send-button stage, i felt instantly lighter because now, having said things i’ve carried around for so, so long – well, it felt like i’d switched my concrete shoes for a new girley-girl pair that fits me better.

so much i’d like to say here . . .

“the parts of (the child) that were not white” . . . yes. that feels so right when i read it. like a missing piece to a puzzle. and at the same time, my “authority issues” rear up and express anger at those who taught me about other religions so i’d know where to “attack” them. and it’s not just religion, but i’ll stop there and just say that yes: we are like a quilt, aren’t we? each of us made of various bits and pieces, none better than any other. all vital to the whole.

and the desire to connect, again: yes. i would never be so presumptuous, so arrogant, so callous as to say to another anything akin to “there, there now. i know just what you’re going through”, but i will always leave the light on for women who want to – who need to – share their stories because in the telling and in the receiving, we both benefit. and you know, i usually find some common thread of connection – something that reminds me that we’re more alike than different. that none of us are “the other” unless we are all “the other.”

okay, i fear i’m rambling and sounding nonsensical, so i’ll take myself off to bed. but not before saying to megan . . . interesting perspective, and yes, sometimes not speaking up is hiding from (among other things) responsibility. in my marriage, for example, he is the good guy and i am the bitch because, well, we won’t go into that. suffice it to say that i understand and agree with that . . . sometimes. i don’t, however, think it’s always that clear cut, and i don’t think that’s always the case. interesting addition to the discussion!

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