There’s a meme going around that says “I don’t understand, but I stand” which I guess sums this up. I will never understand, but it is my task as a white person to do the inner work AND outer work to dismantle white supremacy. I want to be an ally, but I also want to get out of the way and listen to Black leaders as they reimagine what the way forward looks like.
I have always believed these things, but have not said them enough or taken enough action. It should not take a high profile event like the murder of George Floyd to get us white people to pay attention to the many, many forms that racism takes in our society.
I don’t have the answers. I am not the voice anyone should be listening to right now. I am a tarot reader, I am not an expert on social justice. I’m a white girl from Utah. I do not have lived experience of the hurt and pain and injustice black people in this country face every day. Later in this message I will share more of my thoughts not because I have authority, but because staying silent is not the answer. White people can’t stay silent, but we also can’t keep centering ourselves in this conversation.
On Instagram this week, I have been following the #amplifymelanatedvoices movement started by @jessicawilson.msrd and @blackandembodied. The idea is for white people to put themselves on mute “to center the voices and experiences of people of color.”
There are SO many Black people and POC sharing resources, perspectives and action items all over social media. If you’re a white person and aren’t already doing so, check out the #amplifymelanatedvoices hashtag to listen and learn. Just a few people I respect greatly (in addition to the two founders of the hashtag) are @mooredarnell, @iamrachelricketts and @ijeomaoluo. I would be remiss not to mention that many Black leaders have Venmo or other ways we can pay them as a tangible way to show gratitude for their presence.
And if you’re a white person still looking for ways to help, here is just one article with many ideas to consider and then act on. We all have unique ways to be of service and there is no one right answer as to what is best for you to do. Keep sitting with this question (how can I be of service?) and then taking action, then sitting with the question again, then more action. We’re always learning and it is messy, and that’s okay.
As white people, it is valuable for us to set aside our egos and defensiveness and focus on what really matters: creating real positive change and offering solidarity to our fellow human beings. I know I have found myself expending energy on things that really aren’t helpful: the fire hose of social media, my own feelings, etc. There’s shadow work for me to do, and maybe for you as well. Wasting energy in these ways is a huge challenge. We need to just keep reminding ourself to focus on doing things that are truly useful. This message brought to you by my Virgo Moon.
Here’s a thing maybe some of you are thinking: why does Carrie keep addressing “white people” and “black people” separately? Aren’t we one united human race?
Well, yes. And no. Let’s talk about that, especially as spiritual people.
Scientists believe that 13.7 billion years ago, the big bang happened and the universe began to expand. You, me, everything and everyone on this planet has the same origin, we all came from that cosmic burst. In the bigger picture, we’re all family. In a biological sense, there is very little that differentiates us aside from the amount of melanin in our skin. We are, in fact, one united human race. This is the core of many spiritual belief systems. We are one. I absolutely believe this both from a scientific and a spiritual standpoint.
But in a social, cultural and historic sense, there are still many things that differentiate us. As a white person in America, I have privilege. This doesn’t mean I should feel guilty or defensive. This doesn’t mean I don’t ever experience real struggles. It only means the challenges I face are not compounded by the color of my skin. As a spiritual person, I believe in acknowledging this and then considering what I’m going to do about it. Using spiritual beliefs to avoid confronting the very real differences people face based on the color of their skin is what some people call spiritual bypassing.
If you believe (as I do) that We Are One, instead of using this belief as a way to deflect from examining issues of race and privilege, consider how this belief inspires you to create an outer world that affirms this truth.
This is a tarot spread I put together earlier this week to help gather my own thoughts. I decided to share it on Instagram. I will paste the caption I wrote with this post:
“Black lives matter. Here is a tarot spread that may be helpful to white people (myself being one) continuing to sort out how to be a more effective ally. I am sure there are better spreads out there created by folks with more knowledge and experience on this topic than myself, but this is just one I put together to guide me in sorting out my thoughts.
I will share some of what I got from my own spread. These are raw thoughts which may be messy, but everyone says we (white people) need to do the work even when it is messy and makes us uncomfortable and I strongly agree.
Racism is engrained in the structure of America, and if we don’t constantly make efforts to change the trajectory, the trajectory continues. Racist practices are so embedded in my country that some white people just think of them as normal, just the way things are. We need to be vigilant, notice, and constantly make efforts to change the trajectory.
White privilege is also so “normal” to white people that we have to remind ourselves and others what it is. White privilege means being able to wear a hoodie or go jogging or write a check without fear of being murdered.
Part of my personal inner work right now is acknowledging that many of the good things I enjoy in life are not “blessings” because I’m special, but are the result of luck due to the color of my skin. Like the meme that’s done the rounds, maybe you manifested it, maybe it’s white privilege.
For my outer work, the strongest message I got was consciously moving out of defensiveness. My energy, and really the energy of all white people, is wasted when we use it up defending white people. That is energy that can and should be spent supporting black people. Personally I will continue to donate what I can to black-led organizations.
Finally, the cards asked me to remember that empowering one group of people ultimately means empowering humanity as a whole. When resources and creative energy and power are accessible to everyone, things are better for us all.”
Most of the feedback I received on this spread was positive. A few people did the spread for themselves and tagged me to share that it was of value to them. Alongside the positive feedback was one thoughtful but critical comment from someone who believed it was exploitative of me to share this. It was something worth considering, and I really did appreciate the feedback. Was it exploitative of me to share this? That’s a question with no one answer. There will be different opinions. I hesitated sharing the spread again here because of this comment, but ultimately it is something I already shared publicly and so you can determine if this spread would be useful for you or not. Part of being a white person trying to sort through all this is setting aside defensiveness and continuing to listen, as I said in the post itself.
A bit of a side tangent: earlier today, I took a small peek at Facebook. The top post in my feed was from one of the biggest tarot sites on the internet, sharing a spread pretty similar to this one I created. There were hundreds of comments and I couldn’t help but read through some of them. I went into it wondering if people would be calling the spread exploitive, like the comment I received. Although there were many angry comments, I didn’t see any that were angry for that reason. No, this thread was full of angry white people who don’t believe that white privilege is real, and/or don’t think a tarot account should talk about “politics.”
First of all: see the section above about spiritual bypassing. And second, caring about black lives is not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. I am glad that in my (relatively small) sphere of reach, I don’t seem to have attracted this type of toxicity, but I am sad it exists anywhere in the tarot world.
Okay, back on track. Earlier, I talked about focusing on being useful. Perhaps it isn’t much, but I believe one small way I can be useful is by sharing my thoughts on tarot. That’s another thing I said earlier: I’m not an expert on social justice, but I am a tarot reader. For me, tarot is one of the most powerful ways I have found to increase my inner awareness AND direct my outward actions. Do I believe I can simply do a tarot spread and then move on with my life? Absolutely not. I need to take tangible, real world action, again and again. But do I believe tarot can help inspire me to create real change both within myself and the world? Absolutely yes. You may believe differently, and that is okay.
There’s SO MUCH MORE we could talk about in response to the question of what role tarot has in this conversation. For a few years now, there’s been an ongoing discussion about white people being centered in tarot decks and in the tarot community. The tarot community is diverse, but for too long whiteness has been centered in our decks and in our community. In recent years, deck creators have been paying more attention to this but we still have a long way to go. Especially those of us who are white/and or deck creators (like me!), we need to create more space for BIPOC deck creators and tarot readers.
A few places to start:
-A big thank you to Asali Earthwork for creating this Twitter thread sharing Black tarot deck creators!
-The Black Gold Lenormand centers on Black American traditions and is live on Kickstarter for a couple more days here.
If you have stuck with me through this long message, thank you for being here. There is always more to say, and as I mentioned earlier, it has to be ongoing, not just when it’s relevant to today’s news. I am not an expert and you shouldn’t just listen to me, but I will try to keep using my voice and doing what I can. If you have thoughts or feedback to share with me, please leave a comment.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, know that I am wishing you connection, peace and joy. There are no easy answers. We need all kinds of skills, talents and perspectives to move forward. Thank you for being here. Let’s stay focused on what matters, always.