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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Letter from Publisher: Promises Made & Promises Grappled With

Kim Green

Last August, as we produced our feature story for the month, Black & Vegan in Atlanta, I promised to diversify the perspectives and voices in these pages.

I’m happy to announce that we’re fulfilling that promise. Starting in March, we welcome Ifini Sheppard as a consulting editor to examine the subjects of our feature packages and advise if there are African American perspectives that could be explored or served. She will also develop a couple of story ideas driven by concerns of the black community around our core editorial topics of natural healing, conscious eating, fit body and personal evolution.

We also welcome Kim Green and Trish Roberts as regular contributors to our Walking Each Other Home (WEOH) column.

And then it just so happened that the article that Kim submitted for WEOH this month caused us to look even more closely at the issues of divisiveness, culture and labels.

Ifini Sheppard

 

Our aim for that column is to provide a space for people in our community to describe insights and awakenings that are ultimately universal; perspectives that can resonate with so many because of the very fact that we are all so very similar at our deepest core.

And then we came upon the word “whiteness” in Kim’s piece. At first, it sounded divisive, and therefore not universal, to us. Full disclosure, although I am Chinese, I consider myself “culturally white,” and Diane Eaton, our managing editor, is Caucasian. The two of us spent quite some time grappling with where the universality lies and whether or not it would be recognized by our readers. We also tried to look honestly at whether our challenge might be a function of a certain amount of white fragility.

White fragility is real and probably has a lot to do with why talking about race can be so difficult. But I am also convinced that our limitation of language has a lot to do with it. Eskimos have 50 words for snow, yet English has just one explosive word—racism, and its person-referring noun, racist—to describe a very wide range of negative attitudes. What?

Trish Roberts

 

After more discussion and soul-searching, we concluded that Kim’s experience is universal, since we have to admit that practically all of us have fallen under what author Tara Brach calls the “trance of unworthiness.” While Kim’s sense of inferiority is derived from the explicitly racist messages that are transmitted constantly and consistently through our common culture, others are sourced elsewhere. Yet we share a similar disconnect with our inner worthiness.

To Kim’s point, I remember being saddened many, many years ago when I read about research that found that black girls consider white dolls prettier than black dolls, and black students performed worse on tests when they were required to identify their race prior to taking a test. Words matter. Like water to fish, our culture is ever present and helps to define who we are.

I know these things for sure: Everyone wants to be happy; love is expansive; being inclusive can sometimes slow things down and makes matters messier; and to truly love others means to listen to understand, not to respond and to meet them where they are. 

The title of our WEOH column originally came from my favorite quote by the recently passed author and spiritual leader, Ram Dass, who said, “When all is said and done, we’re all just walking each other home.”

Sisters Ifini, Kim and Trish, welcome. We are listening. Would you please walk beside us on our way home?
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