Prayers of Action — Thoughts from OneMama Founder
I wanted to check in with our OneMama family and communities, see how people are coping, and share that I’m thinking about you. I also wanted to share some resources I gathered to help us all begin to learn how to be the change for equality that the world needs.
> To share just the list of resources, Click Here.
This is a difficult time for almost everyone on this Mama Earth and disproportionately tragically difficult for Black and Brown lives in America. There is enormous stress, anxiety, depression, business failure, unemployment, and death that has come along with this pandemic and with the rising up for justice everywhere.
…no one should be fearful of losing their life because of the color of their skin.
I personally want to say that I am horrified by what happened with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, and the exhausted list of other black men and women who deserve justice. This is now a flash point catalyzing the long history of violence and oppression against people of color in the United States and around the globe.
This is all happening amidst a global pandemic that we know is impacting Black and minority communities more than others. While I can’t understand what it is like to be a Black person in America, I know that no one should be fearful of losing their life because of the color of their skin.
My African family and community in Uganda ask me consistently if we are okay and share that they are praying for us here in America. It is an odd exchange of events as they are more worried for us and our safety even while they face the coronavirus pandemic with no running water or electricity!
“America is like the most amazing home, it is big, beautiful, built with all the best technology, resources, and constitution construction available. This home is lovely to admire and seems like the ideal place to call home. However, when you look closer, the foundation of this house was not large enough to support the entire household and only half of the house fits on its constitutional foundation. Also, it is being eaten away by termites and toxic mold and is not safe for everyone in the house to live there.”–by Siobhan Neilland, a metaphor to help translate where we are NOW.
- This metaphor represents how many want to look at the house and refuse to look at the foundation the house was built on. The foundation of the American constitution, the laws and governance, were created by people who owned slaves, assisted in genocide to indigenous people, and were considered elite. The laws and governance of the American constitution were never intended for blacks and people of color or women.
- If we want to live up to those ideals then we have to rebuild that foundation to include ALL people. We have to fix the foundation of our country, our constitution, our laws, and our whole way of being, or the house will fall to pieces and cease to exist to be what it was intended.
- We still have a beautiful house… let’s lift it and repair the foundation to include JUSTICE and EQUALITY for ALL… and re-establish our American house on this new INTENTIONAL foundation!
Honestly… there are no words as I watch family, fellow souls, a whole people, and people I love face injustice that is unbearable, unimaginable, and needs to stop immediately.
I continue to struggle with the words and disillusionment at humanity’s participation in the unthinkable.
I have dedicated my life to be on the front-lines of change and fight injustices, and yet, each day I feel like I am failing to make even a dent in my own personal work, yet alone the global work I do to change these systems.
Nonetheless, personally and through the work of OneMama, we will persevere!
We are all woven into this systemic, dysfunctional foundation whether we choose to be or not. We have to radically look at ourselves as individuals and as a people to remove each foundational brick of institutional racism and sexism that our lives are built on… and ALL of us are a part of it.
I challenge myself to do better— to continue to educate myself, to unravel myself from this foundational atrocity.
The collective heartbreaking pain of the world, and especially of America, is from so much death, loss, violence, systemic racism all built into our country’s foundation. A country I am born into and receive privileged benefits from on a daily basis — and oh my, is it a hard mirror to look into.
How can I, as a leader, untangle us from any part we play in this madness? I realize just being and living here is a form of participation, and I have to be even more vigilant, vocal, and in action in this giant revolution to be in the solution in myself and in the work I do in the world.
We ALL are participants in this — with our education, housing, purchases, economics, policing, military, infrastructure, policies and politics — and if we join together, there may be a chance to make real change. There may be a chance to throw out the old foundational systemic rot and build a new structure that holds equality, space, safety, and the pursuit of happiness for everyone no matter their color of skin, gender, sex or orientation.
“It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.”MICHELLE OBAMA
It is time for the world to act!
Time to face the harsh realities that there are many broken down core-systems in the form of foundations, such as the…
- Inequitable constitution foundation
- Inequitable political foundation
- Inequitable financial foundation
- Inequitable educational foundation
- Inequitable environmental foundation
Prayers of Action
I have no words that can meet this moment with the justice it deserves…
I just have my intentional and internal prayers. Prayers of action for my feet to walk me through this transformation from a rotten foundation to building anew. A new way of living and being in partnership with all beings. Letting go of this race that is killing needlessly and with such insatiable greed!
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”Quote by James Baldwin
I am praying daily for a vision for creating real action and acting it out. I want to not just leave empty words and forgotten ideas. This is the most important change we will have the chance to be a part of in our lifetime! And I know I’m here to help create the change we so desperately need and deserve as all human being on this Mama Earth.
- I pray to bring conscious change into action in my daily life.
- I pray for the organizations like OneMama.org to be leaders by the way of conscious change and to continue to challenge us all to do better and be better daily.
- I pray that the voice of the OneMama village and community at the United Nations can give weight of the plight of the black people in our village and around the globe.
- I pray for the racial and gender justice work I do at Amazon Web Services (AWS) to be challenging direct change and moving the needle of access by creating leadership around the world with a diverse voice and power.
Please hear our prayers for this vision of a new way to lead in this new path to a new world…
…a world with true soul connections with every soul, with full equality. Where everyone feels like they are LOVED and they MATTER.
How to Be an Ally
It’s important to understand what it means to by an ally. An ally is a person who is not a member of a particular marginalized group but seeks to help end the oppression of those in the marginalized group. Being an ally is a life long constant process.
Ally-ship can mean different things to different people, and it can be tough to know where to start.*
*Here are things you can do right now to join together in the long roads ahead and to root out the rot of racism from our foundations:
Taken from the article A Guide to How You Can Support Marginalized Communities.
1. Do your research. Do what you can to educate yourself before you ask others to explain things to you.
2. Brush up on history. Asking “How could something like this happen?” when another police encounter turns deadly can come across as tone-deaf to communities.
3. Influence people in your own group. Talk to the people in your own life, particularly those that share the same identity as you. Share your learnings from your research.
4. Teach your children. It’s never too early. Talk to your kids explicitly about racism and other forms of discrimination. Don’t teach them to be “colorblind.”
5. Own up to your mistakes. Allyship is a process. Along the way, you’re sure to do or say the wrong thing now and then. Don’t get defensive. Take responsibility for slip-ups and do better moving forward.
6. Acknowledge and use your privilege. A critical part of being an ally is recognizing the benefits and power you have in society because of the identity you were born with.
7. Understand others’ experiences. Instead of offering up your own thoughts, listen to people who are marginalized when they tell you about their experiences, frustrations and emotions. Sit with that for a while.
Let each of us take a little time to reflect on the horrific events of the past few weeks. Our family, friends, co-workers, and communities may need time to process, to reflect, and to mourn. I encourage us all to reach out to them, check in and vocalize your support. Please allow people the time they need to process and heal. And space. Give them the space they need.
Please keep in mind that all of this is occurring amid the mental and physical impacts of COVID-19. We encourage you all to be gentle and compassionate with each other, and to create space for people to manage the stress and trauma in their own manner.
Love and Light,
Siobhan “OneMama” Neilland | Founder of OneMama.org and “Fighting for Your Joy”
OneMama.org | [email protected]
JOY=SUCCESS — Start Fighting for your JOY and the JOY of others!
Check out our NEWS! – http://news.fightingforyourjoy.com
“We are all OneMama Living on this One Mother Earth!…”
“We all want to feel like we are loved and we matter in this world”
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE LINKS
- The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) released a new web portal “Talking About Race”. Talking About Race provides digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles, and more than 100 multimedia resources tailored for educators, parents, and caregivers, as well as individuals committed to racial equality.
- Guide to Allyship – An open source starter guide to help you become a more thoughtful and effective ally.
Videos / Audios
- Listen to the stories of former slaves via The Library of Congress’s Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories.
- Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin Di Angelo.
- Watch Oprah’s Two-Part Town Hall Addressing Race in the U.S. “Where Do We Go From Here?” features Ava DuVernay, Stacey Abrams, and more.
- Listen to ‘1619,’ a Podcast From The New York Times – An audio series on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling.
- Brave vs. Color Blind – Ted Talk by Mellody Hobson
- We need to talk about an injustice – Ted Talk by Bryan Stevensen
- The difference between being “not racist” and antiracist – Ted Talk by Ibram X. Kendi.
- How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime – Ted Talk by Nadine Burke Harris.
- Take a Walk in My Shoes – Jane Elliott
- Jim Crow and America’s Racism Explained
- Systemic Racism Explained – Animation giving a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture piece on understanding Whiteness. *In all of my years in DEI, this is probably one of the most comprehensive resources I’ve found.
- Michelle Obama’s Statement about George Floyd’s death.
- Resources to understand the long history of injustice and inequality by Washington Post Staff
- Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day – by Kenneth C. Davis published in the Smithsonian Magazine.
- How to talk about politics at work by Michelle Kim, CEO of Awaken. While this was written to address political events, her advice is useful for discussing racist incidents. Also by Michelle Kim, How to Manage Your Team in Times of Political Trauma.
- My Open Letter to White Corporate America by Omar Johnson.
- It Shouldn’t Be My Job to Tell Managers to Talk about George Floyd by Diversity and inclusion professional Natalia Eileen Villarmán.
- To make space and discuss racism, be sure to check out How to talk about politics at work by Michelle Kim, CEO of Awaken. While she wrote it to help leaders address political events, her advice is spot on for discussing racist incidents.
- Dear Companies: Your BLM Posts Are Cute But We Want To See Policy Change by Janice Gassam, helping create strategies for more diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Brené Brown, personal growth, and working on structural racism by Liz Moore, Peace and Action Justice League of Spokane (PJALS) Director.
- 44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in This Country by Zahra Barnes.
Books / Podcasts
- Brené with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist.
- “So you want to talk about race” by Ijeoma Oluo. She’s from Seattle and also a speaker at CORE in 2018.
- “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X Kendi.
- “How you can be an ally in the fight for racial justice” by Activist DeRay Mckesson.
- “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo.
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