January 2023: Finding Our Purpose
It’s January, 2023 and we wish you a happy, healthy, antiracist new year! We are all building a community together, creating the conditions in which we—and the white people who will join us in the months and years to come—can work together to explore and understand race, racism, antiracism, white supremacy, and white racial conditioning so that we can deepen our humanity and find where we can be most useful in creating a just and loving society for one and all. Building on that, we thought we'd start 2023 with a look at "purpose." We'll turn to the work of Akaya Windwood as a guide for our reflection. Akaya is a Black trainer, consultant, speaker, and writer who has been a friend to CWC since the very first days. Akaya is the person who suggested the line in our preamble that says “We’re not experts.” During the past few years this has proven to be more important than we initially realized as we’ve placed more emphasis on bringing humility to our antiracism. In very broad terms, Akaya has always encouraged us to use the information at our disposal while looking beyond the constraints of our socialization and our society’s limitations. To dream and imagine and love...and always bring joy into the process. She has been a tremendous friend, supporter, and inspiration so it was exciting when she and Rajasvini Bhansali wrote Leading With Joy, which was published last year. We’ll use a brief passage from their book as well as this Map of Roles People Play in Social Change Ecosystems by Deepa Iyer, SolidarityIs, and Building Movement Project to inspire reflections on finding our purpose. Here is the passage:
"My personal life purpose is to remember that there is no person outside the human circle - every one of us belongs. There really is no “them” or “us” even when it is politically or emotionally convenient for me to pretend otherwise. I am the eager concert-goer and the young man who strapped bombs onto his precious body. I am the Syrian refugee fleeing tyranny and I am the U.S. legislator demanding that we close our borders...When I remember this, I can consider more clearly what kind of response I choose to make when confronted with complexity and outrage. I invite you to reflect on your purpose. Why are you here on this planet at this time? What is it that you uniquely are here to offer? Give yourself the gift of time to sit with this question a while. When you've come to stillness, ask: What is mine to do in this situation? And when that becomes clear, do that."
Based on this passage and the map of roles we can play, here are some question to help us reflect on our purpose:
What parts of Akaya's passage about purpose resonate with me?
What, if anything, has keep me from finding my sense of purpose and/or usefulness in antiracism?
Looking at the map of roles people play, which feel aligned with my unique gifts?
At CWC, we support each other through the internal work of antiracism. We also recognize that we each have a responsibility to step into this chaotic, messy, beautiful world ready to be useful. We’re looking forward to exploring all possibilities with you this month. As always, if this prompt doesn't inspire you, please join us anyway and share anything that is on your mind and heart. With look forward to another year of learning in community with you.
"We don’t always realize that we must work continuously to make real the promise of liberating human interrelationship. Even less often do we have the skills to do this work together. Indeed, we have lacked the consciousness necessary to see our potential together and to lift ourselves up to a new plane for being in relationship with one another in ways that do not depend on power-over, but rejoice in power-with.”
― Rhonda Magee, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness