WHAT DISTRACTS US FROM THE RACE CONVERSATION – notes from various participants at Social Alchemy Retreat July 2016
The questions that were the initiative for this constellation:
What distracts us from having the race conversation?
What about the unexpected and surprises? What we don’t plan or perceive as positive or negative?
How can white society be less dangerous in their fear response to non-white anger?
Various Reports – different colors for different people’s sharing:
I was the representative for "white society". That was how the representative was named by the facilitators and that was what I responded to when I volunteered. A crucial issue has been raised in other posts about the difference between "representing" and "acting out one's own stuff".
I would add another distinction, which is that "representing" is also different from "role playing". To the best of my ability to be self aware, I believe I was mostly, if not always, in the position of "the representative for white society". From this position I came away with the following insights/understandings:
1. There is a difference between "white society" and "white supremacy". In the constellation this was a difference that informed my representation. I felt it. The actions that were needed to get "white society" to step down from the chairs were different that what would have been needed to dismantle "white supremacy". This opens the possibility that different strategies, methods are needed for each of these power dynamics.
2. "White society" was not going to give up its position easily or quickly. It was a slow process and any sudden dismantling would have interrupted the crucial soul searching process that white society was going through.
3. The soul searching needed by "white society" was to move beyond the anger and fear response to "non-white anger" and allow a tremendous well of grief to emerge. The holding onto privilege, the anger and fear, were defenses against the grief.
4. While standing on chairs as "white society", with grief welling up in me, I was vaguely aware of the race conversation on the floor and more keenly aware of all the various "representatives" who were trying to get me to step down from my position on the chairs. These included ancestral/spiritual supports, practical supports, a desire to drag me down, a desire to kill me, and others I cannot name. What was clear to me by the end is that no one of these "representatives" was sufficient to get me to step down, they all were necessary and all an important part of the process of confronting my grief.
5. It was only when the grief was sufficiently dealt with did I feel able, however shaky and tentative it was, to step down from the chairs.
6. When I stepped down I was led to embrace one of the representatives from the race conversation. I'm not sure which representative this was but we embraced and shared grief together. Then a key moment for me occurred. Someone separated us and led the other representative away. At that moment my grief stopped and I felt free. Free from the burden I had been carrying. I was now just another member of a human family.
I was really happy to see your comments about the Race Conversation constellation. It took me back personally to what I consider to be the representative role of a lifetime -- as I was one of the two partners in the race conversation.
You make a very good clarification about White Society being represented versus the idea of White Supremacy. Every time I heard "white supremacy" during the constellation, it came with a whisper of dissonance. My feeling from inside the constellation is that your representation was very pure, with no "acting out" or "role playing."
I believe that one of our facilitators made a brilliant move at the beginning of the constellation, which was to start by bringing in the two representatives for the race conversation, one black, one white -- without identifying who was whom in the constellation. That allowed the two of us to be very pure in our representation.
During the course of the constellation, I became very aware of which part of the conversation I was representing, but that's not really important. It was the other partner in our conversation who embraced you when you came down off the chair. I was amazed at how many elements of the constellation had to pull together to work to get white society down off the chair. It seemed very significant that the united race conversation partnership had to be there to witness and support that movement.
The very deep feeling I was left with after the constellation, is that there is no power in the universe that is strong enough to keep the race conversation from happening. The pull I felt was too strong to be denied. But it will take an almost unimaginable effort to bring white society down to a level playing field that honors all who have sacrificed to make this happen.
I can't end this thought without saying that I don't know that I've ever felt a stronger, more pure and powerful love than I felt when I looked into the eyes of my partner in the race conversation. From a purely personal level, I know that one spark is enough to kindle a flame that can burn brightly for all mankind to witness.
The constellation left me filled with hope for our future.
I represented “Distraction”
Initially I felt very strong and purposeful. It felt easy and successful to distract.
It was easy to stay grounded around Fear.
I felt like I was society, generally, and distracting was clear. Over time, I realized that I was the news media, both social and corporate-controlled media.
As I saw the race conversation beginning to happen, my focus changed to distracting white society from what was happening – as corporate media.
I sensed that there was momentum happening in the conversation, so I enticed White Society to pay attention to me, not what was moving in the conversation. I was pandering to W. S.
When W.S. started to turn its back, question its power, I didn’t have a place/purpose to distract, because the race conversation was happening and W.S . wasn’t paying attention.
I sensed there was momentum beyond what I could distract from, so I went latent. I felt useless.
And, throughout, “Distraction”, I felt empty. Not a good feeling – not doing ‘good work”, even if trying hard.
I stood as Source – a force beyond human, that was wanting humanity (especially the distractions) to self reflect and heal enough for the conversation to the place. I mostly had neutral space and gave support where called or asked…
I learned that some aspects of society (military) are not ready to transform. I felt that it was very helpful to white society to have support to be courageous to step down and see and take responsibility for pain caused.
What distracts us was getting caught in the pain and not having energy to look outside of the (human) system and ask for help from Source.
I felt the importance of white society and the distractions to have willingness to change or courage to look at the damage done, to begin process of healing
As an Indigenous person, I, in my mind, felt that I was a Native American. I appealed to “white society”, then sensed anger and sadness as I felt ignored.
I then retreated to the outside edge of the room, outside the circle, in sadness…
I learned that I play a role in white society – my unawareness, my non-involvement
- Military –
o Power used to keep blacks and whites separate. I gave up trying to keep them apart, not allow them to have the race conversation.
o Keeping them apart was safer than letting them mix (dead bodies showed truth of this) (I think military also resisted because knew that they’d have to acknowledge dead bodies from their actions)
o When ‘the unexpected’ and the earth came in, that gave blacks and whites power to have come together
o Stepped back into abuse of power
o When white society was in final stage of stepping down, I was ready for new order to tell me what to do. My aim is to keep everyone safe.
- News media –
o Focused on distracting white society from having the race dialogue
o When white society turned around, I felt no purpose
o When white society was ready to come down, I wanted to keep status quo
o When it stepped down, I then wanted to spotlight it
o Felt very disembodied, paralyzed.
o When ‘the unexpected’ came in – led to panic and aggression
o When white society looked me in the eyes, I relaxed and sat down
o When asked for help, clicked to fear
o Fear then shifted to courage – when there was the push to get white society down based on its own understanding, wanting it to see & choose it vs. being coerced down
o White society following own pace, and aware over there people are dying
o Fear was fragmented, when white society came down, I could see the whole space.
- Dead bodies
o Disappointment, confusion, disapproval
o Rain/thunderstorm – chaos…heavy subject
o Hard to be powerless and dead
o Very vulnerable, down there
o We see you, loved acknowledgement – that was the healing
- I feel that.
- Non-white anger – no one replied to request to step in and represent that. Not safe to come into the field.
- White society will not step down when turning its back on the pain and the dead.
- Impatience – white society getting all the attention, indigenous and race conversation not getting all the attention.
- Mother Earth –
o Really clear what to do
o Unexpected was a higher power
o Revolutionaries wanted earth to take down white society. I couldn’t.
o Anger, strength, spirituality collaborated with mother nature too – that tempered the revolutionaries energy
o Felt this was too big for humanity, called to be Source.
o Was neutral, felt invisible
o Humanity has to ask for help - when asked to help, I supported white society to come down
o Healing on your terms, need self-reflection
o Re-purpose the military
- White society
o Deeply experiencing resistance – needed distractions to stay in that position.
o Followed resistance to join group
o What it takes to transform me: Every role was necessary in my transformation. All those people could not have done it as individuals. Didn’t matter who was who.
o If I was forced down, wouldn’t be a transformation
o All of that was defense against grief in white society
o At the end, I felt freedom. I was no longer in a box. I resisted it to the end, then felt freedom.
-the importance of removing fear and distraction in having a connected race conversation
-the importance of getting white society to step down and acknowledge the suffering and dead resulting from abused power
What allowed my movement?
What started as non-white child, anger towards white society, wanted to kick him off his chair. It felt like an essential movement to get him down.
Once left the circle (escaped) and became a black revolutionary, wanted to bring down white supremacy.
Was annoyed, but not surprised, by how much support white society needed to face its own legacy and begin healing movements when confronting and truly seeing all those who died because of white society.
Also surprised how different the lenses were on representation from outside and inside the circle. The ones who were not white and oppressed had to do all the work.
The system would have remained stagnant without DRASTIC change.
Dominant feelings in beginning were anger, rebellion, impatience, lack of compassion for white supremacy, righteousness in my cause.
Compassion came after white society acknowledged bloody legacy and grief.
Race conversation starts with:
I can see there are so many unnamed souls that had to suffer and die.
I feel that.
We have to go back to where it started and see it as it truly is.
It brings up a fear response and I have courage.