Beyond Anti_________

It was the rhythm that first caught my attention.

drerp, drerp, drerp.
drerp, drerp, drerp.
drerp, drerp, drerp.

I turned and became caught up in watching my cat drink from his water bowl.

After every few licks, he would pause.

Still completely in a ready-to-drink posture.

Chin just above the water.

I imagined Tony Baker narrating his thoughts.

The idea that popped into my head was how animals can lead us in reconnecting to our body’s true needs for nutrition, rest, connection…

Act, pause, and re-assess before going further.

And then I thought of me and you and all of the people I get to interact with who deeply want to be better humans – and build a more just world.

I’ve been noticing for a while now that much of the white anti-racist subcomplex, more often than not, reinforces the oppressive, disconnected, and dehumanized ways of being that we say we are trying to abolish.

We are still hooked on old terms, tools, and methods even though they have proven marginal in their ability to effect authentic and substantive change.

What do you think that’s about?

Last week, Sonya Renee Taylor shared this video (7 minutes). In it she breaks down why our current framework of “anti-racist” isn’t going to liberate us.

I stopped calling myself an anti-racist a couple of years ago because it felt too small. I’ve been using the term abolitionist in its place and in the past month I’ve realized that even that term won’t do.

As I read more and more Indigenous perspectives, what I find myself in search of are words that connect us to:

who we were before our people were grafted into the U.S. system of racism,

who we are trying to be while within that system,

and who we will be after that system ends.

It’s what Jomo was saying when he wrote:

“White people need their own ah-ha moment – their own epiphany about the time in which we live – an enduring truth to latch on to that will speak to the core of the white identity and allow them to, alongside of us, reject what white dominance says about them. This movement of change cannot be driven by external forces – it must be internal – and that requires white people to examine the reality of who they are inside of white dominance and catch vision for who they will be outside of it.”

To call myself an anti-racist or abolitionist now feels incredibly short sighted.

When I hear Sonya Renee Taylor say “Liberation is not a deficit-based model. Liberation isn’t about what we are against.”…my whole body screams “YES”!

I am trying to remember it’s not binary. It is important to say what we are against and I no longer find it useful to spend all of my time or link my identity to these notions.

Words create worlds.

What kind of world are our words building?

Is it possible that we only maintain systems of oppression when we use words that require their existence?

What does a world without oppression look like to you? As you imagine it, what words do you no longer need?

I want to build a world where we all belong.

I want to get a sense of my identity within that world.

I want to build a white community no longer attached to dominance.

These pursuits surface love, joy, rest, wholeness…..humanity.

Take a few steps, pause, reassess before going any further.

The more I practice this, the more I notice myself unhook from terms, norms, tools, methods, and frameworks. Not because they are meaningless but because most of them don’t take us far enough or produce evidence that we are actually building a more just world.

What terms, tools, or methods are you holding on to?

What would change your mind about them?

When was the last time you re-evaluated their effectiveness?

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Rebecca Greenidge (she/her)

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