When Kristine joined the Board of the Mindfulness Association, one of the tasks she was passionate about was bringing our equality, diversity and inclusion policy to life. I have been very keen to support her in this work as I think it is important that we all walk our talk, rather than paying lip service to policies that make us look good.
Since then Kristine and Fay have been doing some excellent work in collaboration with Dean and Aesha Francis of the Urban Mindfulness Foundation to offer mindful inclusion training. We are working towards becoming a more inclusive organisation and to integrate an awareness of unconscious bias in our training pathways. The latest development is an INCLUSION SURVEY and I would be very grateful for your support in filling this out. In this way, we can move towards developing the Mindfulness Association to be a more inclusive organisation.
When embarking on this path, I was very unaware of the inner work that I would need to do in order to recognise my own white privilege and fragility around issues of race. It has been a deeply painful process, but I am deeply grateful for the insights and the developing inner resilience that this work is giving rise to. I recognise my tendency to take any criticism personally and become reactive. This is not my fault, but due to my conditioning. However, it is now my responsibility to look inside and learn how to open and be curious instead of projecting blame. I have always identified myself as one of the ‘good ones’ who wasn’t racist. After all I have nearly fifteen years of loving kindness and compassion practice behind me, developing an equal respect and openness to all beings, regardless of race. As a result of this I became defensive when this work challenged my identity as one of the ‘good ones’. I believed that not being overtly racist was enough, but now I recognise that this is not enough.
What hit me most, emotionally, was reflecting how I didn’t have to educate my daughter about racism for her own physical and psychological protection and how I didn’t have to worry about her being jeered at on the street or that she would be discriminated against at school or university. How I have never been stopped by the police or can go shopping without being followed or harassed and how I can travel and live wherever I want without having to think about my race. I could go on, and on, and on……
I recognise that I am complicit and benefit from a fundamentally racist system manifesting in the culture and society in which I have been brought up and in which I currently live. Not my fault, but now I have recognised this, it is my responsibility to become an ally to black, indigenous and people of colour. I have considerable power as a white person in a position of leadership which I can bring to bear. I have not blogged about this before, out of a fear of causing offence. That is a symptom of my conditioning, which I am overcoming now. If you are curious, I would recommend ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I recommend the audio book, narrated by the author to hear her speaking her truth in her own words, which I found moving and inspirational.
I am currently taking myself through ‘Me and White Supremacy’ by Layla F. Saad and following the daily journaling prompts. Again, I recommend the audio book narrated by the author, challenging yet deeply compassionate. What prompted this blog was the reflection ‘How have I stayed silent when it comes to racism?’ The answer was clear – I have not blogged about this work that I have been doing for the last six months.
Kristine is organising our conference this year and a key focus is on engaged mindfulness and social change. We have inspirational keynote speakers lined up (watch this space!), and together we will explore different ways of how mindfulness can contribute meaningfully to the big social and environmental challenges of our time. The conference is on 24-27 June and we hope you will join us.
We can all work together, inwardly and outwardly, without blame or recrimination, but with honesty and commitment to uncovering the truth, so as to make our organisations and institutions more inclusive.
Wishing you well.