Act: Inspiration

Beyond the Divides of Black-and-White Thinking – Coming Together in the Heart of Our Wholeness: Part 2

July 20, 2020

Ed. Note: You can read Part 1 of this series, Love Fear and Revolution, on here.

At Heart We Are Not Racist, But All One Human Race

Black people are historically, the ancestors of us all, the elders of the entire human race, not a race apart from us. They are the root of the human race, in the deepest sense, the race of which we are all a part — we need to learn from them, not crush them; respect them, not condescend to them. And (despite our abysmal track record so far) we have this potential in us. If we recognize that the entire human race has sprung from African roots, how can we be “racist”? – it is like turning on ourselves, destroying the roots that created us, the very basis of our own existence.

It is fashionable today to say we are all “racist”, but if we can get past our programmed social conditionings (and yes, there are complex historical layers), at our roots this is not true. In our bones and in our heart, we know we are not apart from each other. It is up to us who have lost them, to go to those roots.

The idea that “we are all racist”, supposedly with bona fide scientific proof, has harmed the cause of unity as much as the earlier social-Darwinist, scientific programs of eugenics, that also had clear political agendas behind them. I believe that racism is accrued, not born in us – an accretion of layers of history, brutal and distorted – and it is very important not to take it on board as a given, but go deeper to our true roots. Yes, it is very important to see those accretions honestly, and yes, to acknowledge and admit them, but so that we can strip them away, not cling to them — to know they are not at heart true.

The notion that we are all “racist” at heart may seem innocuous, harmless enough, even admirably honest, like some liberal, self-congratulatory virtue-signaling in reverse – yes, I admit how bad I am, sorry, nothing much I can do, even the science proves it – but it is actually very pernicious, and ultimately untrue.

There are political agendas behind science, and much of racial bias is perhaps not racial at all but just the confirmation bias of those who would prove that it is. We tend to take anything science “confirms” as a given, not realizing that science (often backed by political and economic agendas) also operates on a confirmation bias. Research is designed to prove certain outcomes, and of course that influences the outcomes, the way experiments are set up and how the evidence is interpreted.

It is our mind-set that determines what we see “out there” and what we make of it, not what is actually “out there”. We are constantly framing reality through the frames of our thinking, and that thinking is highly limited, dualistic, based on oppositions, black and white. As our highly divisive society reinforces that – educates us in that in the first place – many of us never exit that trap, never see reality through our own eyes. (In fact there is no “in here” and “out there”, it is all one undivided, interconnected field. We trump ourselves whenever we see it otherwise.)

We see things through the mind, but we ourselves are emanations of the heart of creation — all of us, and all life. The mind, and its divisive thinking, is a false overlay, hiding the truth of our unity, but to the eye of the heart that truth is in plain sight.

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Latching on to our fixed beliefs – our fixed categories of thinking – stops the flow of evolution. We need to let those categories be fluid – at best completely open, even if just for a moment – so that the new can flow through us. And the new, in our case now, is totally timeless, ageless, boundless, the eternal truth of our unity.

The idea that all white people are innately racist, which has taken hold amongst both blacks and whites over the last few decades, has had other repercussions which have worked against the cause of unity. It helps to disguise the fact that racial divides were deliberately constructed to mask class divides, disparities of wealth and power, and thus effectively keeps us from going to the deeper roots of the problem. Racial divides have arisen not because whites instinctively hate blacks, but as part of a much greater complex of class divisions, divisions of power, and the divisive thinking that underlies them, that pervades every level of our current society.

I also think a lot of white people’s fear of black people is not inborn but comes from deep guilt and remorse, an actual recognition – even if subliminal, not consciously admitted – of the horrific harm and injustice whites have subjected blacks to, and a fear of reprisal. It is not that whites don’t know the violence and harms they have inflicted on blacks (or benefitted from, indirectly) – it is that they know it too well, and they fear the more it comes out, the more they may face reprisal and revenge.

But black people already know that, and many are a step ahead of the game. In this respect, I think of the words of the heart-rending song that came out from 12-year old Keedron Bryant: “I just want to live – my people don’t want no trouble, we’ve had enough for so long”. Truth-telling, forgiveness, reparations, and together changing the systems that have caused the harm – that is the way to go, not guilt and reprisal (or fear of it) – a vicious cycle that spins endlessly round.

Above all, we must not shame each other, either whites shaming blacks (as they have  done for centuries), or blacks shaming whites (as they now claim their power), because shaming and silencing the other always leads to anger and revenge, spins the cycle of harm without end, in a lose-lose game with no winners. History shows us that blaming and shaming always incites a backlash, a reprisal, and so defeats all parties.

The Racial Divide Has Been Constructed to Mask Wealth and Power Divides

Race (a false, constructed racial divide) has been the smokescreen to mask real inequalities of wealth and power in the American system, from the very beginning. Rich and powerful white people have always deliberately promoted the division between whites and blacks, so that the poor white people who are actually also the victims of these rich white elites, see blacks as their enemies rather than their fellow victims, with whom they might otherwise rise up in solidarity.

This pattern of divide and conquer, especially along racial lines, has always been there in the American culture, the basis of black slavery and poor white bigotry, in the land of “equality and freedom.” Now, with the skyrocketing wealth and power inequalities of the neo-liberal system, it has been deployed again, full-power – which is why the racial issue is now exploding, full-on, in our faces, so that this sham becomes transparent, exposed, to be finally faced and redressed.

It is telling, symbolically, that the divide that is threatening to topple the human race has devolved, literally, into “black and white”, the quintessential expression we use for separation, the irreducible opposition of two irreconcilable sides. The problem is the sense of division that plagues the human mind, and it couldn’t be played out more starkly than in this total polarization between black and white — this false construction of separation, that belies our true unity, the fact that we are all one human race, and one with all life. The time has come for this fatal error at the core of our consciousness to be exposed and uprooted, or else we will not survive.

We have to see that separation itself is a false construction, that in essence we are all one. And yes, at the same time, the sufferings that have ensued from this false construction are genuine, and painful, and need to be acknowledged and addressed. To say that we are all one, at the ultimate level, is not to turn a blind eye to the sufferings our misperceptions and actions have caused at the relative level, but to dive into our true heart and find the passion, wisdom and deep inspiration to uproot that false separation, and build true connection, in ourselves and our world.

Healing the racial divide is an essential foundation in healing ourselves and our world, in healing the wider social, economic, ecological and political collapses that are now hurtling down the pipeline. In every sense of the term, we need to go beyond “black-and-white” thinking – the false separations that have plagued us — and find the one true heart of our shared humanity, that alone can save us, our care and love for all life.

What is happening now is mythic. We have to read the book of life, in nature and the events of these times. The lessons we have needed to learn for centuries, perhaps the whole history of mankind, are now coming to the light. Let us take them as the gift they are, a blessing in disguise, as they light our way to a new future.


Teaser photo credit: public domain

Kavita Byrd

Kavita Byrd works to bring together holistic consciousness and whole-systems change, with an emphasis on evolutionary spirituality and sacred activism. This includes research on ecology, the climate crisis and new economics, integrating spiritual wisdom and radical social action for evolutionary global transformation. She is author of the poetry collection Love Songs of the Undivided, as well as the book Quantum Co-Creative Revolution: We Are All In This Together. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Princeton University.

Tags: economic racism, racism, social change