The Blessing of Integration

Education is power:  Equal Justice Initiative’s recent educational video.  

Last year I watched Selma  with a grateful heart, but I didn’t share my thoughts here.  This year I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of Equal Justice Initiative.  With that, I can finally see where the frontier of the Civil Rights Movement is extending.  I have been reveling in Bryan Stevenson’s insights because I can finally feel grateful for another living soul who cuts to the heart of the matter like Dr. King did.  I feel that we are at a new point of departure with our collective conversation on our race problem in the United States of America.  The reality of white privilege is gaining more exposure, the Black Lives Matter movement is gaining momentum, and much more.  While social media isn’t the news, it is serving as a way of sharing information and ideas.  I’ve learned about plenty of stories through my Facebook feed that did not make the news, presumably because of bias.  And I’ve experienced some emotional relief from being able to share my personal thoughts on a topic that is close to my heart but not obviously key to my daily existence as a person benefiting from white privilege.

I certainly do not deny the reality of white privilege.  But I do wish to point out that privilege doesn’t do much if it divides you from others and therefore from parts of yourself, and our current divisive system imposes internal divisions on each and every one of us.  Most of us in the USofA have some blend somewhere in our hearts, minds, or personal and ancestral histories – our country is fundamentally multicultural.  I believe that we ALL desperately need a basis for celebrating that blending because it gives us such a blessed opportunity and because without that celebration we are essentially broken-hearted.

To me it boils down to full integration, to the fundamental truth that we are all connected; that on a personal level we cannot find complete fulfillment in our own lives until we connect all the parts of ourselves, and that on a social level the only way to truly connect all the parts of ourselves is to lovingly connect with the people around us.  If we are part of the majority in seeking to be truly happy and content, then we are really seeking something much more profound than enjoying a set of benefits that are not shared amongst all citizens of humanity.

  • If we are holding another person apart from ourself as an other, then we are really holding a part of ourself as an other and we are not fully integrated.
  • If we take that holding apart to a more hateful extreme, then we are all the worse for it.
  • If we look upon the suffering of an other as separate from our own then we miss the subtle yet powerful truth that when one of us suffers, we all do.

I firmly believe those things, and yet I still have this life of mine which thus far has been painfully isolating. Because of that, I’ve got a hefty list of goals to work on between now and next January:

  • This is my year to figure out how to leverage what I’ve got professionally so I can invite more fun and collaboration into my professional and personal lives.
  • This is my year to dance more and regularly celebrate the cultures of Oakland that bring my heart so much joy.
  • This is my year to know that I’m doing it all with a connection to a greater cause.
  • This is my year to go deeper into the process of personal integration that accelerated when I became a mom.

This is my year to accept nothing less than the blessing of complete integration.  I wish the same for each and every one of us.

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