When the devastating murder of George Floyd happened, it felt like the entire world finally woke up to the systematic oppression and violence against people of colour.
For some, it was easy to think “when did things get so bad?”. The truth is that racism has always been horrific and we aren’t hearing more about it because it’s getting worse, now it’s just getting filmed.
It felt like my eyes were starting to fully open to the situation that was happening in the world and on our doorsteps. Alongside the rest of the world, I became extremely aware of the fact that black and coloured people all over this planet are continuously suffering at the hands of racism and it is completely unacceptable and heartbreaking.
When the protests began to break out and the riots, I was mixed with this unbelievable shame and uncomfortableness and heartbreak. Not only was I witnessing the depth of suffering that POC have experienced for generations, but I was also waking up to how asleep I had been, and that was hard to digest.
I looked really deep inside myself and ask “how can I serve humanity if I am not willing to look inside myself and how I have been contributing to this disease of oppression”.
All my life I had been walking around with this very deep shame inside of me that was coming up and I couldn’t quite put my finger and why. To try and ease this discomfort and understand it more, I dove deep into doing anti-racism work. I read books like Me and White Supremacy and studied greats like Malcolm X and Dr King. I tried hard to learn and listen and educate myself, but the more I learned, the shame just kept growing and I didn’t know why or how to fix it.
It took me getting to the point of being still and going deep within to ask myself “how had I contributed, how have I participated in oppression and racism”?
When I first asked myself these questions the first immediate answer seemed like no, I have friends of all colours and shapes and sizes. I am half Asian myself, I haven’t participated in racism….. have I?
Then one night when I was really deep in the shame I invited myself to dive even deeper into it.
I really dropped deep into this shame within me and I made a commitment not to run away and a commitment not to look away and feel this shame. As I did and as I sat with these emotions and feelings of disgust and self-hate, I started to see all this memory at the roots of the pores of my being. I started to see through the eyes of my mother and it all just started to become really clear.
My mother is Malaysian, Chinese and Thai, born on the east coast of Malaysia and she has dark brown skin. I’ve known all my life that she must have suffered through some form of trauma to struggle with the things she has struggled with in her life. At the base of this ancestral trauma, I had been carrying I started to feel like I knew more of what my mother had experienced while growing up.
My mother grew up though in a culture that recognized dark brown skin with a being a servant, with being a slave. She was the only one in her family born with that dark brown skin and because of this, she was treated like she was the ugly duckling. As a child, I thought it must have just been about beauty, and I never stopped to think it had anything to do with racism.
The conditioning of her family and the decades and generations and ancestry before her looked at her with her dark brown skin and made her less than.
She was born and immediately identified as the one who was less than.
I had a visual of her looking around her and my grandfather, who was a very wealthy man had all these concubines with lighter skin. Meanwhile, all of the servants he employed has dark brown skin like my mother.
There was so much hate directed at her and being born with this dark brown skin she was labelled as already having failed and already being worthless. Worthless was how she must have felt.
It was devastating to feel the depth of that pain from my beautiful mother, but it was also a blessing to feel her more fully and my whole life started to make sense. My mother identified with the woman who was unwanted and disgusting and her story was about proving to the world that she was worthy.
She was the only one in her family to leave and go to a white university the only one to marry rich white men, she sent me to white rich schools and as I was seeing the whole thing play out in front of my eyes, the perception of myself started to shift.
I had been speaking since the George Floyd murder and participation in the conversation as a white woman, I had already been seeing myself at the age of 41 as a white woman. I had become racist towards myself, I had rejected my own brown skin and inherited that rejection that my mother carried within her.
I honestly couldn’t believe it, I was astounded that I never even considered it for a moment that I hadn’t seen myself as anything other than a white woman.
I had been conditioned to be racist toward my own brown skin.
As this huge realization kept sinking deeper and deeper into the pores of my being I would look up and say to my husband “I’m Brown” because I was beginning to come home to the roots of my own brownness. The roots within me that had been living in rejection and separation, the roots within me that had been conditioned to push it away.
I left a lot of time to integrate this deep deep awakening within myself and I feel like more of me has come home, and I am able to sit with peace more in the brownness of my skin and the heritage I have come from.
I can now sit and hold space for the depth of oppression that I have also come from.
Racism is a symptom of trauma, a symptom of the parts within ourselves that have been conditioned to reject and separate.
It’s not just someone putting a knee on the neck of a black man, it’s the way in which we see and think of ourselves and other people. It’s the conditioning within us that teaches us that those of privilege, those who can get away in society today are the chosen ones.
It’s a symptom of the condition that has caused us to behave and try and prove that we are better than you, but it’s not who we are, and if we are going to heal the separation and the oppression on this planet we must heal the ways in which we are turning that oppression on ourselves.
My mother passed on this oppression because of the oppression she put on her own soul. Beneath the colour of our own skin, we are all from the same place the same society, and we are all whole.
So if you haven’t been participating in the dismantling and dissolving of oppression that is being shown with bright lights to us all in society then look within yourself at the parts of yourself that are acting out towards yourself. If you are doing it towards yourself you will be doing it towards other people.
It will affect the behaviour and choices that you make in your life.
If we are going to heal our planet, let it begin with you and me.
I now understand why my mother had such a discount relationship with me as a child, we had a very fractured and painful relationship growing up and I’ve had to do a lot of work because I was at the hands of her rage.
I now can recognize with so much compassion and love in my heart that she would look at me and see my light brown and olive skin and it would remind her of how little she thought of herself and that must have been exceptionally painful for her.
It’s given me an even deeper level of healing and an opening of my own heart to understand her own pain and what she has carried and what she has been taught and if I can heal it for myself and for her I can stop the lineage of passing this down to my children and their children.
The question I have for the listeners that I want you to take into your life and live your way into the answer.
How am I acting out in oppression towards myself and how can I bring healing and awareness and radical responsibility to those areas within me so I can bring those areas to wholeness within myself and then participate in the healing of wholeness in the world?
If you have any big aha moments I want to hear from you, please share this episode with anybody that you feel needs to hear it and if you want to support Soul Surgery please subscribe and leave a review.
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