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  • nancy willbern

Updated: Jun 27, 2020


(Marketing image for the course by this name created by Brownicity)


Ever since the murder of George Floyd and the outpouring of reactions to it, I have taken my unconscious assumptions about race to heart. I am on Week 2 of an online class to learn as much as I can about how I have contributed to a White-biased culture. This series, spear-headed by Dr. Lucretia Berry is called What Lies Between Us and is offered by a consciousness-raising educational group Dr. Berry co-founded with her husband, Nathan Berry called Brownicity. I cannot recommend it more highly. So much has already been exposed about mass illusions that have been perpetuated by the system we are all swimming in.


It's so hard to understand how so many of us could remain so asleep for so long, who couldn't see what was right in front of us. I am shocked at myself! It might help to hear about a study done back in the day with two litters of kittens. One litter was raised in a room painted with vertical black and white stripes. The other was raised in a room painted with horizontal black and white stipes. When the kittens were gown, they were released out into the normal world - no more painted stripes. Amazingly enough, the kittens raised with vertical stripes, literally could not see anything that ran horizontally. They kept bumping their heads on the foot-rails of chairs. And conversely, the kittens raised with horizontal stripes kept running into the wooden legs. We have all been conditioned by our external environments, but thank God, as humans when that conditioning gets exposed, we can choose to see more around us. This class is graciously aware of the inherent, unrecognized biases in our culture. The point is not to shame, but simply to awaken through education, connection and dialogue.



(Marketing image for the documentary by this name - California Newsreel.)


One of the important features of the series is the showing of the three-part documentary called Race: the Power of an Illusion. The film was co-created by California Newsreel and Professor John A. Powell, from UT Berkely. The film series is both thoughtful and powerful. Each segment cracks open long-cherished ideologies held in the mind and the heart. Please watch it, even if you don't join What Lies Betwen Us.


Although much of this learning experience is wrenchingly painful, I can't tell you how glad I am to have finally opened a door that I didn't even know was there. Now that I know it is there, I can't keep it hidden anymore. And, I don't want to. This recognition both scares me and excites me.


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Posting Etiquette

It is important to me that this site be one that feels safe and respectful for everyone. To make sure we are all on the same page, please note:

1.) Comments shared in this space, remain in this space. Readers do not have permission to copy or shave off little bits and claim as their own -- anything anyone else has shared on either the Blog Posts or Comments without written permission from the author.

2.) This site may not be used for partisan purposes. Disrespectful or contentious comments will be removed.

3.) The purpose of this site is to expand our awareness and open our hearts. It takes all of us to keep it within its intent.

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  • nancy willbern

Updated: Aug 2, 2020




Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in

Musical Lyrics by Leonard Cohen

Original sentiment by Rumi



There is a crack in our Liberty Bell. What a perfect symbol to represent the fault lines that run through the very fabric of our cherished nation.


We can't overlook those fault lines anymore. They have painfully been exposed. We see the cracks. We see the shadow. We feel them deeply and part of us recoils from them. But what does it mean to own responsibility for our country's unconsciousness?


It has to start with an honest look at ourselves. I will start with me.

I am a White woman who has lived in the South my whole life. I came of age in the 60’s. I witnessed the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement and the protests against the Viet Nam War. More recently, I have been thrilled at the movement towards Gay Rights and Gay marriage. And because I lived through those historic changes and supported them, I have always felt that I was open to and accepting of diversity. I see now that that assumption is a large part of the current problem. It is a major fault-line that runs through my intellectually-based stance towards inclusion.

So, here goes - By most impartial standards, I have always been protected and privileged. In the middle of all that protected priviledge, I remember when Blacks had to drink from separate water fountains, use segregated restrooms, could not eat in “our” restaurants, go to “our” movie theaters or “our” schools. As cliché as it sounds now, especially after the movie, The Help, the truth is the closest relationship to a Black person I have ever had was with Mariah, who came to clean our family home every Thursday from the time my mother was in high school until I was a mother of two. I loved Mariah. I adored her. We had a bond. I was forever “her Bug.” But truth be told I didn’t really know much about her as a unique person in her own right. I knew the Mariah that came to our house, who drank out of a pickle jar because she didn’t feel comfortable drinking out of one of “our “glasses, who stood up at the kitchen sink to eat her lunch, who sang “The Old Rugged Cross” when she ironed our clothes and sheets and pillow cases, the one who always wore purple jeweled ear-screws in contrast to her white, starched uniform. I knew the Mariah who made sugar cookies and home-made cinnamon rolls that would melt in your mouth, the one who knew how to cut out a chain of paper dolls from our discarded Houston Post – a newspaper that she, herself could not read. And that is something I didn’t even know about her until I was in college. So, there it is, right there inside of me, a dark corner of my psyche that has hidden inside my own unconscious mind – every bit as unnoticed as our Fore Father’s schism between idealized imaginings while slaves tilled their fields. I spent every Thursday with Mariah for my whole growing up years. I loved her dearly. I loved her soul, but I didn’t know she could not read until I was 19 years old. How could that possibly be? Welcome to my own very personal and deeply humbling, unconscious shadow. This is just the beginning.

There is so much for me to learn, to be exposed to, to open to, to own about my personal level of unconsciousness. I, like our Fore Fathers don’t even know what I don’t know, but what I do know is that there is a part of me - just underneath the part of me that is afraid of what I will see - that wants to be expanded, that wants to know what it really means to be inclusive and respectful. There is a part of me that wants to see the light pouring through the cracks in my intellectual assumptions. It scares me but gratefully, it is where I am being led.

It is not my place to suggest what any of you might do to awaken more deeply into the ways that you have shared in our collective slumber. That is between you and your Sacred Connection. But the place to start, should you want to open to it, is to be still, be quiet and just get as honest as you can within yourself. Take it all in. Don’t shrink from what you see. Stay right there in the visceral grip of it all. And as you experience the gnawing pangs that will inevitably arise, then - through genuine honesty and heart-felt humility - ask to be shown where to go from there. That's how the light shines through.




PS. To those of you who noticed a great big Comment Box in the middle of Shadow Work: Part 1, please go back and read it again. The glitch has been conquered.



Stock image 272447 from Pixabay


__________________________________________________________________________


Posting Etiquette

It is important to me that this site be one that feels safe and respectful for everyone. To make sure we are all on the same page, please note:

1.) Comments shared in this space, remain in this space. Readers do not have permission to copy or shave off little bits and claim as their own -- anything anyone else has shared on either the Blog Posts or Comments without written permission from the author.

2.) This site may not be used for partisan purposes. Disrespectful or contentious comments will be removed.

3.) The purpose of this site is to expand our awareness and open our hearts. It takes all of us to keep it within its intent.


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  • nancy willbern

Updated: Aug 2, 2020



A Black man's final words as he is suffocating from the force of a White man are a cry for his dead mother. That scene and that cry are more than my heart can bear.


We are living in a very tumultuous time and most of us are walking around with broken hearts. Some of us are really scared. Some of us are angry. Some of us are indignant. Most of us are shocked by all that has happened so quickly and so globally. I am right there in the middle of all that chaos and emotion and heart-ache, but I do not feel hopeless in the face of this great unrest.

I am not alone in seeing the year 2020 as the time of opening to the great American shadow. Our under-belly has been exposed to the world.


The United States of America was founded on a yearning and eventual demand for freedom. Our Founding Fathers felt the suffocating grip of oppression, first-hand. And in response to that oppression, they revolted. We proudly call that The American Revolution.

Once they claimed their own personal freedom from the tyranny of King George, III of Great Britain, - which happens to be the home of my ancestors - the leaders of the 13 colonies were then galvanized to conceive of a new, radical idea of government – one “of the people, by the people and for the people.” They formed a brand-new nation by claiming the “inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for all persons. That idea, right there is nothing short of a Divine Inspiration, but it was channeled through all-too-human-minds – a light shining through a pin-hole - and was therefore limited in its manifestation. The limitation of those western European, masculine minds is the origin of the deep and dark, American shadow. The shadow was born right alongside the inception of an unequaled, governmental paradigm. The fullness of the shadow’s depth and breadth is just now beginning to be exposed.

The Founding Fathers were right in as far as they could see. Their western, European White man’s focus was on their particular oppression from another western, European White man who held the reigns of power. They reached a boiling point under his regime and eventually refused to be held under his thumb. Their longing for freedom which expanded into a felt-sense, God-given entitlement to freedom moved them in the direction of truth. It led them to write The Declaration of Independence and subsequently, The Constitution of the United States of America, two documents undeniably written with wisdom and soul. But it is vitally important to remember and to bring into full view that at the end of September 17, 1787, after the freshly penned Constitution was signed, 41 of the 56 signers went home to their slave-powered-plantations. Carolyn Myss aptly labels slavery as America’s original sin. And I have to agree with her.

So, you might ask why am I not hopeless in the face of this stark, tragic and deeply humiliating-humbling remembrance and its present-day off-spring? It is because I know, just past my broken heart, deeper in my heart-of-hearts, our collective shadow is the doorway back to the Light.

Filling the mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western (thought), but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.

-- Carl Jung

Our Founding Fathers imagined a nation based on equality for all, as endowed by our Creator. It is now our job to wrestle with the shadow cast by their great light, to let it open our eyes and hearts, and drop us to our knees. The gravity and the opportunity of that job is what gives me pause and also what gives me hope.

More to come…


Photo Credit: cgrape on Pixabay


__________________________________________________________________________


Posting Etiquette

It is important to me that this site be one that feels safe and respectful for everyone. To make sure we are all on the same page, please note:

1.) Comments shared in this space, remain in this space. Readers do not have permission to copy or shave off little bits and claim as their own -- anything anyone else has shared on either the Blog Posts or Comments without written permission from the author.

2.) This site may not be used for partisan purposes. Disrespectful or contentious comments will be removed.

3.) The purpose of this site is to expand our awareness and open our hearts. It takes all of us to keep it within its intent.

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