**I have been overwhelmed with emotions in light of the continuation of horrific treatment of people with different skin than mine, by the hands of those that are the same as mine.
I was also struggling to write my usual content - a motivational, educational post to support my practice as a Holistic Nutritionist to my audience who is typically listening for me to inspire them to love themselves more. I can’t write about how you should love yourself more when my heart is broken by incidences of hate towards my neighbours.
My job is to teach you to love & nurture yourself, but honestly, right now, you are ok.
We need to take some time to understand how to love others more.
And with that, I present a lecture? an essay? a sermon? a collection of words, that I am primarily saying out loud for myself to hear. If this speaks to you, I pray that it is so heavy upon your heart that you can do nothing but take action to seek relief from the weight of the situation that we are facing.
The following is inspired by the book of Esther, a book based on racism and the plan to slaughter people different from those in power.
As a part of my morning routine, a component of my self-care, I spend around 30mins each morning reading the Bible with the goal of reading it entirely, within a year's time. It just so happens that in accordance with this reading plan, the book I began to read this morning was Esther - a story that I have read & heard taught a great number of times.
Before I go on, let me pause to say that a basic principle in reading the Bible, should you go on to read this story for yourself, is to understand the difference between “Descriptive Text” & “Prescriptive Text” - just because something is recorded in the Bible, describing the particular cultural climate, does not mean that we are to prescribe that model of living onto our lives today.
To be clear, the Bible describes a lot of murder, yet Christ prescribes that you are to love others.
Back to Esther....
Based purely upon one man’s hate towards a man of a different ethnicity, this man convinced the king that not only should this innocent man be killed, but so should his entire people, the Jews.
Esther, a secret Jew herself
(see, she could hide her “undesirable traits” as it wasn’t as obvious as the colour of her skin) and the newly appointed Queen, had the privilege of living in the King’s courts where she had access to plea to the King on behalf of her people. But even as Queen, if she presented herself in front of the King without him first summoning her, she could be killed.
So to speak up for the lives of others, she risked her own life in the process.
Upon rereading this book, the parallels that exist between Esther's time & place, and our current society became glaringly obvious. I was inspired to share this because I know that the people who follow me online are, predominantly, white middle to upper class women, and many would call themselves a follower of Christ. These are the women who have the privilege and access, not to mention the responsibility, to help lift POC out of the oppression that they face today. And by me saying that, you might immediately be thinking that you identify as an Esther, the hero.
But you are not an Esther.
You are not a person who is discriminated against because of their ethnicity.
You, are more like Vashti.
A person who is discriminated against because she is a woman.
Vashti was the Queen that Ester was called in to replace.
Queen Vashti, was a woman who was known for her beauty, but I like her more for her activism against the treatment of women as objects meant only for the sensual satisfaction of men.
When called by the King to display her beauty to his buddy’s - an ancient Royal Persian “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” if you will, she outright refused.
Did she lose her crown and all that she knew as a result? Absolutely!
But in the process she sent the message to the women within her castle walls and to those far beyond in neighbouring countries, that a woman has a voice, and a woman can say “No”.
Vashti was paving the way for women to speak. Women such as Esther, who was the voice to free those who were being persecuted.
As Vashti, we need to boldly say “NO”, and be willing to modify or even walk away from, the comfortable life that we are accustomed to. We need to outright refuse that this treatment of others continues as we pass the Crown AND the Mic to the Esthers who have the shared lineage, knowledge & power to enact change that will ultimately free her people.
Sharing the # for the pursuit of justice for yet another black life stolen, is considered important as it raises awareness, but there doesn't need to be more awareness, we need action. Change is possible, but it is going to cost YOU.
-Invest in a Racism Awareness course, Google it, and pay to be educated on how to be an active ally to POC.
If you see a course, curated by a POC, offering to help you navigate this realm of race in your world, and they are offering this course for free, and you are not a POC, you should absolutely take that course AND you should also insist that you pay them. It cost them time, effort, resources, and ultimately generational trauma to have the knowledge to compile that work and you and your white skin should no longer allow yourself to continue to perpetuate the ideal that black folks work for free. If they are no longer slaves in your eyes, then don’t treat them as such.
-Donate, generously, to organizations supporting Human and Civil Rights locally and internationally. Visit www.charitynavigator.org and search for a charity of your choice that is advocating for the rights of minorities.
This may mean that instead of a new pair of lulu’s, you wear the ones you already have while you donate funds to support the efforts of getting innocent black men off of death row.
-Speak Up: You can get the attention of those in power, & say “No More!”
Remember that you do not have to have the solution or spell out to your local politician what changes need to be made, you just have to use your voice & privilege to create a soapbox for those who do have the answers to stand on!
This may mean casting your vote for the political party that is actually the least advantageous to your personal well being. This may mean that you end up paying more in taxes so that others are lifted out of poverty.
-Again, speak up! Call your circle of friends & family out for their ignorance. This may make you feel uncomfortable but by this point, of all of the emotions that you could be feeling,
feeling “uncomfortable” illustrates that your feelings are still focused on how this is impacting you and you haven’t begun to process how this is impacting others.
As many have said, if you are not outraged,
you are not paying attention.
This may cost you some relationships, but I would rather a person
live outside of relationship with me
if it means that another person will live. Period.
So are you willing to risk losing something, perhaps everything, with the hope that as a result, others may live, and live free?
We have been called to love our neighbour as ourselves, and maybe in a roundabout sort of way, if we start loving our neighbour more during times when their lives are at stake, we may see the trivialness of the little bits of ourselves that we have been hating - the very things that have been distracting us from loving ourselves in the first place.
Perhaps it is loving your neighbour, that will free you to love yourself.
If you are intrigued by the story of Esther, I highly recommend you read it yourself as well as check out The Bible Project's video illustration that outlines the story wonderfully. In reading Esther "even though it appears God is absent, He is still at work in our lives and will not abandon His promises while we are living in a murky and ambiguous world."