The Risks Of Spiritually Bypassing Racism

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The Risks Of Spiritually Bypassing Racism

The Risks Of Spiritually Bypassing Racism
Commentary From The Events Of Charlottesville, Virginia

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Something happened last week that I never ever anticipated. One of my hidden spiritual pet peeves collided with the issues of racism and hit a large nerve inside of me. I felt it all the way through my body.

What is my biggest spiritual pet peeve? When spiritual axioms or spiritual insights or spiritual tools are used with very little emotional responsibility. Spirituality without emotional responsibility is what is called spiritual bypassing. This is spirituality without legs or leverage. Spirituality without emotional responsibility creates avoidance and a sense of covering up or covering for.

This dynamic, I believe, is one of the biggest pitfalls in the spiritual community. Unfortunately, it’s rarely questioned because it falls into the category of “everyone is at their own level of awareness” and “we all get to chose how we want to travel our spiritual path.” It’s a live-and-let-live situation. It’s an in-time-and-on-time space. It’s an allowing that we all come to our own truths when we need to, when we’re ready . . .

. . . I’ve felt like I’ve largely needed to honor this belief system and practice . . . until last week.

Last week, I noticed several spiritual memes posted to FaceBook by spiritual men and women I know that had little to no emotional responsibility as answers to racism. Sure, they were well-meaning posts, but when I read these memes and I experienced a full body lightening trigger, I knew something was wrong. Normally, I would deal with this as my own issue — which it is. I also believe it’s an awareness issue in the greater spiritual community that needs to be voiced in light of how we need to be even more emotionally responsible working with our spirituality relating to concerns about racism.

A Recent Example Of Spiritual Bypassing
If you are white, and you believe you are spiritual, it is NOT a good idea to post a spiritual meme stating “No white person alive today ever owned a slave. No black person alive today was ever a slave. We can’t move forward if people want to keep living in the past.”

I cannot begin to tell you the rage I felt about this post. As I’ve sorted through my emotions about it, I’ve come to realize that this is a blanket spiritual statement (cover) without taking emotional responsibility for a very complex issue our country is experiencing.

In other words, posts and belief systems like this do not help. Why? Let’s break it down.

This meme and those like it ignore the 300 years that created the physical and emotional violence of cultural oppression that so many African Americans live with in the United States today. It has an unspoken message of “just get over it.” It also has an unspoken message of “shut up and don’t say anything.” It ignores the fact that we have not found our voice to understand and heal this gaping wound of racism and it’s resultant cultural oppression. It ignores that our country has completely avoided the restorative emotional and justice processes that Germany has already provided for their Jewish citizens in light of World War II and Naziism and South Africa has been in the process of providing for their citizens concerning the devastation of Apartheid. Where is our restorative emotional and justice process for slavery, segregation and the terror that White Supremacy and the KKK have created? It ignores generations of African Americans who are living with the information of slavery and cultural oppression in their DNA and light field (the seven generations cellular code issue). It ignores the remaining belief that White Supremacy is okay – which is it not.

In other words, the entire thing hit my trigger of rage about “not taking emotional responsibility with your spirituality.”

And the other meme that sent me over the edge?

“For racism to go away, we just need to stop talking about it.”

NO. Absolutely not. The conversation is JUST BEGINNING. The embrace of the story for the healing is just beginning (please reference Brene Brown’s recent social media post about embracing the story directly in relationship with the events in Charlottesville, Virginia). We need this dialogue to continue to heal the deep wound. Our country needs emotional restitution so that the physical restitution and healing can follow.

How Irresponsible Spirituality Affects Racism
When I came down off my adrenaline rage and began sorting through the finer points of a very complex race issue mixed with complex spirituality, it came to this: Spirituality, yes, truly, is amazing. I wouldn’t be here talking with you if it wasn’t. But through this experience, I am learning that spirituality without the legs of emotional responsibility and cultural awareness is just as emotionally violent as no spirituality at all.

Spirituality ignorantly applied to racial issues does the opposite of healing racial violence and ignorance. Spirituality without emotional responsibility white-washes racism back into an avoided, silent, wounded, un-embraced corner of our country. And that is NOT okay.

So, it brings up the question of how best to use tools within spirituality to help with this complex ocean of a cultural issue. That’s what I had to sit with for awhile after I calmed down. I had to ask the question, what would I do?

Dialing In On Spiritually Responsible Tools In Light Of Racism:
And I realized it comes back to the basics. Here are some ideas about how we might be able to apply healthy constructive spiritual tools to racial issues on an individual basis within community:

1. Powerful and constructive spiritual tools are about being present, in your center, breathing and listening, to yourself and to others. This is the foundation to begin to practice Non-Violent Communication. Non-Violent communication is the groundbreaking work of Marshall Rosenberg.

2. Powerful and constructive spiritual tools are about being aware enough and curious enough to ask compelling questions instead of giving blanket spiritual statements. It’s about saying, “This is uncomfortable, but I want to learn more.” (Example: Some of Anthony Robbins initial work was about asking smart questions. We need to learn to ask smart questions about race in our country on our individual level to guide our journey).

3. Powerful and constructive spiritual tools are about identifying where and how YOU feel vulnerable about racism inside of your own body and psyche and admitting this to yourself. Being as specific as possible is powerful. And let me clarify — this is NOT about making your pain more important than those who are persecuted. This is about you getting real and being present about your authentic vulnerability in relationship with your own racial experiences both from places of privilege AND victimization.

For example: My current uncomfortable vulnerability about race is that I live in an isolated and insulated community — largely white, Republican, Trump country, with little racial diversity AND a footprint of a liberal, conscious, spiritual, organic community members. Yet, I see a complex ocean of race happening in the world around me where I want to make a difference. I know that part of my vulnerable power is here in the North Fork by holding higher vibrational consciousness questioning with voice and presence the bigotry that I see. Asking for more diverse viewpoints here at home.

I also want to make a difference in the larger world and I feel ignorant about this. So, to begin my own excavation, I am diving into the pool of learning about the destructive impacts of white privilege, learning about white shame and white fragility. These are uncomfortable areas to pull the blinders off, but necessary to be a part of the change we want to see in the world.

4. Powerful and constructive spiritual tools continued:  From the space of taking ownership of your authentic vulnerability in #3, this is where you can begin to see what might grow from this space for compelling and constructive voice and action.

For example, I’m beginning to see how my white privilege has insulated me from the real issues into a place of white ignorance. If I stay grounded with this uncomfortable space and take vulnerable ownership, than I have a direct line on my own healing, conscious racial education and constructive action. That constructive action is beginning to take form using the tools and resources I already have in hand:

  • Potentially providing interviews on topics of spirituality, money and race and where the three intersect. If you are interested in this idea and have suggestions about specific topics and interviewees, please contact me.
  • Providing continued educational resources to my largely white, female, spiritual audience for dialoguing about race. Encouraging conscious, compelling exploration.
  • Being a voice and presence in the spiritual community in compassionately requesting that our all-white spiritual events consciously open their doors to creating a more supportively diverse atmosphere and participation. (Please see Layla Saad’s article below).

Our best spiritual job is NOT to make blanket spiritual statements that insulate and divide. No. Our job is to be present and ask and listen, no matter how awkward, no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how much we feel insecure and don’t understand or don’t know what to do. We might feel that we aren’t very good at our own consciousness about racial issues, but that is no excuse for sticking our heads in the sand in the comfort of security. Our job is to witness and acknowledge. To hold that space. To speak up when appropriate. Take action when appropriate. That’s spirituality in action. That’s at least a beginning.

Several Compelling Resources:

Layla Saad’s “I need to talk to spiritual white women about white supremacy”:

NPR’s Code Switch – Case appropriate examples of the complexity of racial dialogue:

Syllabus For White People To Educate Themselves:

Michael Eric Dyson’s
“Tears We Cannot Stop”

IMDB Movie and Netflix Series:
“Dear White People”

Google: “Racial Dialogue” and learn from what you read.




1 Comment

Marsha Beach

August 24, 2017 at 10:10 am

When we start to really feel and begin to discover the true nature that we are spirit first and for most, then we have the ability to see and feel that in others. We become more engaged with our commonness and not our differences. More willing to listen and hear and see the potential for true commuinication.
We all start in our true nature then we get “trained and taught” to verious degrees to be less tolerant and accepting.
I’ve noticed our ability to see someones true nature, works.
Meditations helps me, birthdays have helped me.
Lately there is more in the current events to help me practice this more. Thanks for the helping me clarify some of my frustrations also.