Understanding and Healing Racism: A Spiritual Perspective
I've wanted to write about racism for a while now, and it has taken me some time to gather and organize my thoughts. Racism is a sensitive topic that can be painful to examine. My goal is to provide a spiritual perspective, tools for healing trauma, and an action plan to create a peaceful post-racial world.
The friction and upheaval during this pandemic have highlighted many of humanity's faults and failings. Why are minorities brutally murdered merely for existing? Why are some people still being treated as subhuman just because they have more melanin in their skin or different-shaped eyes? It's irrational. We should have evolved by now, but we haven't, so all this chaos is pushing us to break outdated and archaic systems and modes of thinking.
So How Did We Get Here?
Or rather, why are we still here? Talking about racism makes many people uncomfortable and defensive because admitting to being racist is like saying you're evil. No one wants to be likened to Hitler. But people are not divided into Good and Evil. Both traits are in us, a tug of war within, constantly challenging us to choose.
Everything comes from God, and that includes evil, the negative force, the ego, or whatever you want to call it. Life is a game set up so that we have the free will to choose good, to be like God. When we listen to the negative force, it sets us back from our spiritual goal.
With that understanding, we know that evil, or at least the potential for evil, exists in every one of us. To say that you don’t have a racist bone in your body is like saying you don’t have bones. To be human is to be fighting inner demons. The sooner that we can address these demons, the sooner we can relinquish them.
Is Racism Taught?
Sometimes, I hear people asking, "why can't we teach people not to rape/kill/be racist?" Well, it's difficult to reason with the mentally ill. It's already a challenge to communicate with those who seem to have all their mental and physical capacities. By the time someone is raping or killing, they are entrenched in negativity and beyond reason.
Laying a foundation for spirituality and rational thinking in children would certainly help future generations. I wish schools could have classes on empathy, kindness, respect, and how to express emotions in healthy ways. Instilling these qualities early would go a long way in not just combatting hatred but cutting it off at the source.
Unfortunately, racism can be taught, consciously or unconsciously, starting within the family and within communities. Stereotypes and racial hierarchies have long been normalized in pop culture and media. Those who are becoming conscious of pervasive racist thinking now have to actively unlearn it.
This can be a challenge for those living in very homogeneous societies. A lack of contact with people from different backgrounds can give way to prejudices and assumptions unless we are really seeking to understand and empathize with others. Those who look different are often viewed as threats. Parents and key community members can pass down these fears of outsiders. This leads to a very important point:
Generational Racism and Xenophobia
We're all likely descendants of ancestors from tribes and nations that were constantly at war or on the defensive from foreign invasions. Being suspicious of outsiders (xenophobia) is in our DNA. It's a defence mechanism; we're wired to be on guard for threats. When we see someone who looks different, we automatically assess them as "foreign," even if they're a citizen in the same country.
There are isolated indigenous tribes and ancient civilizations still in existence, such as this Sentinelese tribe who will attack and kill outsiders stepping on their island. They need to be protected from outsiders because they don't have the immunity we do to diseases. And if history is any indication, if they don’t defend themselves, they would be stripped of their land, resources, traditions, and forced to integrate into another tribe or nation.
Assessing appearances and leaning into stereotypes are shorthands to define and categorize those we don't understand in order to stay safe from threats. However, conflict and violence are not exclusive to different races or nations. Just look at The Troubles in Northern Ireland or all the civil wars. You can just as easily hate someone in your own backyard. This war mentality will continue to flame prejudice, racism, and hatred until we learn to respect and accept each other, within our community and beyond.
Right now, “white supremacy” seems to be the common enemy. White people are on top of the racial hierarchy, and the rest of us are battling it out so we don't end up at the bottom. This means minorities being nasty to other minorities.
Simply put, racism is a tool to make others feel inferior so we feel superior. It's basic schoolyard bullying on a larger scale.
White people are not going to give up their reign so easily, which is why they feel threatened when minorities move into their territory. Those who have stolen land are the most sensitive and defensive to foreign threats; they know another tribe can easily steal the land right back—finders keepers!
But let's say another race does succeed in usurping white supremacy. Racism won't end there. Whoever is at the top is still vulnerable to humanity's lust for power and greed. As long as there's a hierarchy, there's always going to be war and conflict.
None of us want to give up our land, our heritage, our traditions. This earth is an experiment to see if different tribes can co-exist peacefully. We can, as long as we give up our pursuit of dominance. This is why doing our spiritual work is so important.
Breaking the Cycle
First, it's time for us to heal from the collective racial trauma of our violent history. As some of you may know, I'm an intuitive healer, and I self-heal every morning. I understand that not everyone has the means to get certified as a healer or to hire one, but there are several simple techniques you can learn yourself.
In my list of 7 energy healing techniques, EFT tapping, The Emotion Code, The Quantum Breakthrough Code, and The Healing Code can all be learned fairly quickly to self-heal. You can even borrow the books from the library. Use them to release sadness, grief, pain, resentments, fears, anger, or anything else weighing you down.
Anger is a big one. The root of anger is pain. Expressing anger is easier than dealing with hurt and pain. Anger can be used to defend yourself when threatened, but if unchecked, it will create a cycle of hurting each other, perpetuating anger and violence.
This is why it's imperative to release anger in ways that won't hurt others or yourself. Aside from using the healing modalities recommended above, scream into a pillow, exercise (boxing helps), break some plates outside, channel it into art, etc. If you don't let it out, or even recognize that it's within you, sooner or later it will eat you from the inside out.
You can say another "benefit" of anger is that it can galvanize someone to find their voice, even if it's aggressive. But anger is reactive and not sustainable in the long run for fueling you to express yourself or take meaningful action. The goal is to get to a point where we can speak our truths, express our feelings, and stand up for ourselves calmly and without anger.
It's also time to move beyond blame. This can be extremely difficult as we continue to witness all the violence, chaos, and injustices in the world, but we need to surrender justice to the cosmos. Spiritual leaders know that the world is always in balance.
Whenever I hear tragic news, I have to take a step back to remind myself that everyone has different soul journeys. Studying reincarnation has taught me that before being born, the soul chooses the body and certain life experiences to obtain spiritual lessons and elevate their soul. If they have passed on, I can honour their lives by receiving the lessons gifted to those of us who remain. As a result of hearing their stories, we might be inspired to take urgent action for change: find our moral truths, speak out, stand up for what's right, help our communities, donate money or our services, reach out to others, start organizations, etc.
Release Hidden Prejudices
We don't need to have a common enemy to unite. If we continue with the Us-vs-Them mentality, the conflict will continue. In past lives, we've all been different races, genders, religions, etc. Our tribes have done atrocious things. We have done atrocious things. Chances are, we have taken racial prejudices from past lifetimes into the current life. They can also be passed down from ancestors.
In ThetaHealing, there's a 5-day course called World Relations, where practitioners can muscle test their subconscious for hatred, resentments, grudges, and prejudices for every race, country, culture, religion, sexual orientation, etc. I'm waiting for the pandemic to be over so I can take that course, but I started doing a bit of that on my own. I've started testing resentments for different countries, and I got results for places that I've never even been to. Surely, they came from past lives, and it's good to remove them to prevent attracting conflicts with people from these places in the future.
Focus on your own spiritual work
As the Coronavirus has shown us, we are all connected, for better or for worse. The frustrating thing is that we can't change other people. Right now, cancel culture is all about shaming others into change. Maybe it helps to get things going, but it's not going to be sustainable in the long term. People should want to change on their own.
Spiritual leaders know the most effective thing they can do is to walk the walk. Love is a more powerful force than hate. Spreading love is the best way to inspire others to be better. I do my spiritual work by resolving my own issues so I can be happy and better shine my light on the world.
People can change if we give them space. If we're quick to judge, the judgment boomerangs back, and none of us are perfect.
If someone really needs to change but won't, leave it to the cosmic laws—and actual laws. You can certainly voice your opinions and stand up for what's right, but it's not your responsibility to force someone to change. And it doesn't work. If you start with yourself and practice what you preach, you'll have the best chance to inspire those around you to be better.
Creating a Peaceful Post-Racial World
Develop empathy for people different than you.
If you don't live in a diverse community where you can meet and befriend people from other backgrounds, seek out their stories so you can understand different perspectives and imagine stepping into their shoes. Reading novels and memoirs is the closest thing to being inside someone else's head. Check out my reading roundups for book recommendations by diverse authors. Also seek out films, art, vlogs, etc. from diverse creators.
See people as individuals.
Once in a while, I'll get a "where are you really from?" question as an ice breaker. Even if the person is well-meaning, I don't usually give the answer they want because I assume that info will limit their perception of me. Race is not a personality trait.
Whether you will get along with someone or not won't come down to race or cultural background, and I know this first-hand growing up in Toronto with a diverse mix of kids. Sure, my Chinese heritage influences me, but it would be foolish to assume everyone from one country thinks and behaves exactly the same way. Everyone deserves to be recognized as an individual. I know that it takes effort to get to know someone, but if you stop at skin colour, you're going to miss out on the life story and rich nuances of a person.
As someone contemplating getting into comedy writing, I don't find jokes based on racial stereotypes funny. They're lazy and unoriginal. It puts someone in a box, and they must either resign to it or fight to get out. Although these jokes were socially acceptable as recently as a few years ago, we've seen people die as a result of the racist rhetoric of political leaders. What starts out as cheap laughs will progressively have more dire consequences. I understand it's impossible to go through life never offending everyone, and each person has their own line on what's acceptable or not, but if it's hurting more than it's helping, find another way to express yourself.
Respect different cultures.
In recent years, there's been a lot of anger and hurt surrounding "cultural appropriation." It's understandable to want to protect the sanctity of heritage, and I think the uproar comes from a lack of respect. It results in a "you can only do X if you belong in X race/culture" mentality, which is limiting. We are citizens of the world, and we progress our species by sharing and mixing cultures and DNA, as we've always done.
At the same time, we must preserve existing traditions and history. It's a fine balance, but respect for different cultures will go a long way in moving society forward. It's funny because the last two feng shui consultants I hired were white women. Race wasn't even a factor for me because I knew they respected the practice, studied in China with masters, and were good at what they do.
The next three points came from the last chapter in Ilchi Lee's book Change: Realizing Your Greatest Potential. When I first read them, I scoffed, thinking they were inconceivable. But then I realized I was being too cynical. Why can't they be possible? Instead of being divided, we can have...
A new common identity as Earth citizens.
For civilization to be harmonious, Ilchi Lee says we need a new shared identity, one that is not limited by cultural, political, and/or religious divisions. We are Earth citizens before we are Canadian, American, Chinese, or Indian, the way we are humans before we are men, women, Buddhist, Muslim, or Christian. We are already influenced by people and cultures around the world. Even the products we own contain components manufactured in multiple countries.
Recognizing ourselves as members of the Earth community first will help us put the Earth first. Embracing an Earth-based value system, all conflicts that came from disagreements among the smaller value systems of the world will seem increasingly irrelevant and will finally disappear. In an Earth community, these differences will no longer cause conflict but merely represent cultural diversity and richness.
A new common language.
There's room for miscommunication and misinterpretation since everyone on Earth speaks different languages. What Lee proposes is a new way of communication beyond words that's even simpler than gestures. You can lie with words, but you can not lie with energy. Send positive energy to people around you, particularly those in locations who need more support. Communicating with energy doesn't need to be limited to humans. Send positive energy to other species and even inanimate things, and see how they respond.
A new common goal in life: "completion."
Lee shared that when he was in his early twenties, he had failed his college admission exam three years in a row and was considered a big loser in Korean culture. He didn't have any hopes for the future. But one day, he saw a pileup of garbage below a bridge and the thought came to him that he should move the smelly garbage to a field where they could be used as fertilizer to grow pumpkins. He didn't know why he had that thought, and this act was out of character, but he did it anyway. His father thought what he was doing was shameful and asked him to stop, but he continued and felt contentment after he'd cleaned up the garbage. Neighbours who once looked at him strangely eventually thanked him for the pumpkins, but his biggest sense of happiness came from the knowledge that he decided to do something good for the world by his own choice. While there were no immediate thanks, he received a deep sense of acknowledgement from the inside. The gratitude was from him to himself, a sense of completion.
This sense of completion will override that sense of emptiness, that hole in the soul. Instead of looking around for something to fill the hole—food, entertainment, money, games, partners, sports, power, knowledge, etc.—we can look inside for the answer on how to fill this hole. There's nothing wrong with pursuing success as long as that success will be meaningful and aligned with what you really want in life. The new common goal Lee proposes is "completion," replacing the current goal of "success."
"Completion" can eliminate the competitiveness—ego, greed, power trips—that has caused so much strife in the world. This goal can be achieved only when we follow the deepest call of our heart and live by our true nature. Lee elaborates on these and other ideas of his "great experiment" in his book Change, which I highly recommend.
Do you have any thoughts or tips on creating a peaceful, post-racial world? Share in the comments below.