Dear Spiritual White Women: People of Colour Aren’t Your Inclusion Tokens
In March I wrote a post titled A Call For Inclusion. As I wrote then, I’m not expecting you to change overnight or immediately be able to apply what I wrote in my call out. It was an invitation to start the process. To quote what I wrote then ‘I need to see that you will do more than share your mates’ stories and prop them up every time you run an event. I want to see you confess to your ignorant colour blindness. I want to see an apology for why you have excluded us. I want to see you signing up for programs on social justice run by people of colour. I want to see you sharing our work and paying us for the work we do, not asking for free labour. I want to see you writing about what you discover about yourself and tell your skin kin that they too, must be all in. I want to see real change and for you to show me how you are inclusive.’
By ‘us’ I mean black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC).
Yes, your confession is needed, yes, you need to acknowledge your colourblindness, yes you have to feel remorse, and YES you have to do it publicly and unpack what you discover about yourself. It will be ugly. This work is not comfortable and not easy. So you have a choice to make: stay in denial, keep silent and embody white fragility just as you have done already or make a decision that benefits humanity and contributes to positive social change. Women in the spiritual/personal development industry continue to quote the Dalai Lama ‘The world will be saved by the Western woman’, but so far, that is not you because you aren’t doing the work.
I wrote you this letter and also provide resources at the end because you keep asking ‘what can I do?’ without ever committing fully, and that is white privilege and white exceptionalism alive within you. It’s time to dismantle.
The only thing worse than a bigot, is an “Ally” who can’t stop congratulating themselves on their enlightenment. — Julio Alexi Genao
Spiritual White women,
You are not listening to black, indigenous and women of colour, including me.
You token follow us to steal our wisdom and regurgitate our words like it was your thought, idea or belief all along. You don’t have my permission to do this.
You sling us a few bucks and remain publicly silent on racism and exclusion in our industry.
You tokenise by using diverse stock photography to give the impression of inclusivity yet you don’t have an inclusion policy or anti-racism plan, and you rarely have women of colour clientele or contributors, if any.
You stand silently watching when the shit hits the fan when black, indigenous and people of colour are harmed in online community spaces and their own social media pages leading us to take time offline for extreme self-care.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. — Desmond Tutu
Or you choose not to follow us at all because you can’t deal with our passion for justice and equity. You call us angry, and tone police us in your head or with aggression on our posts. You even do this when we have explicitly stated boundaries and rules for engagement. You consider yourself superior and an exception to any boundary we construct to protect ourselves.
All you want is Love n’ Light Truthbomb Lite Version 2.0 2018 so you keep yourself cushy and comfy while you perform for your majority white audience.
You take Martin Luther King Jr. quotes entirely out of context claiming how enlightened and ’woke’ you are. You write the occasional teary post on brown and black people and children dying, all the while getting thousands of likes and comments of praise, yet you don’t uplift a single black or brown sister. The stage you built is for your one-woman show, and there’s no way you will share that stage or enter the possibility that you will be outshined. You deem your authority as superior.
You don’t engage with or build relationships with brown and black women. You’d be lucky to have even one in your circle. And if you do, you probably roll out the lines, ’I have a friend whose biracial or mixed race!!’, my black friend…’, ’my Asian friend…’, ’my Latina friend…’, my Indian friend…’, ’my Chinese friend…’, ’my Aboriginal friend…’ to prove how not racist you are. You don’t have my permission to use me, a biracial woman in this way.
I hear many stories of how you use black, indigenous and people of colour, how you ask us to do labour for ‘exposure’ (and at risk of exposing us to those in your audience who are racist).
You say you want to change the world yet you erase on a daily basis black, indigenous and people of colour from that agenda.
You take your time in sharing our work (if ever) or provide very brief or long overdue testimonials after we’ve asked over & over. You don’t respect our time.
Your stories and posts are dreadfully whitewashed, often appropriating cultures that are not your own, you either defensively insist that you are an ally or you haven’t a clue on how to do the work necessary or you say that it is ‘low vibe’ to get political. You appear uninterested and non-committal unless you can selfishly get something out of it.
You create your programs and throw sacred activism into the mix because you think you will be able to do it better than anyone who is black, indigenous or people of colour, and again you don’t give credit to the people you learned it all from.
You care more about making money than social justice.
Where is your sisterhood?
Who is in your sisterhood?
What type of feminist are you really?
Where is your humanity?
Where is your empathy? Your apathy is showing.
Where is your inclusion?
The answers are clear, and you have a long road ahead of you in making amends.
Educate yourself and unpack whiteness with these resources:
Reading and Resources for Activists — my free mammoth, curated list of recommended articles, blogs, books and programs is a comprehensive resource and a great place to begin learning about racism, gender, social justice and diversity
Anti-Racism Consulting for Gutsy Leaders — my consulting and coaching service for people to implement and integrate anti-racism into their life and business
Wild Mystic Woman’s #meandwhitesupremacy — a free 28-day writing challenge hosted by Layla Saad on Instagram with videos on YouTube.
Diversity is an Asset — a workbook and training created by Desiree Adaway, Ericka Hines and Jessica Fish.
We cannot educate white women and take them by the hand. Most of us are willing to help but we can’t do the white woman’s homework for her. That’s an energy drain. — Gloria Anzaldúa
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