“Don’t Be Angry” – White Fragility in a Women’s Spiritual Facebook Group

Today I was ejected from a spiritually minded women’s group on Facebook. The reason given by the moderator – bringing up race and causing division. This is a group that loves to share a peaceful piece of art with women of all different skin tones that depicts sisterhood, something this group touts itself on supporting. But it became abundantly clear that membership in this sisterhood hinged on bowing to women’s white fragility.

These past several weeks have been uniquely moving and emotionally exhausting and heartening and frustrating all at the same time. What began as an American campaign has grown and spread quickly to many different towns and countries all over the world. Someone told me that even their small town in Canada had a Black Lives Matter march. Even if you are not one to watch the news, and let’s be honest, most of us here cannot because the way television news runs with the constant background noise and bright lights and ticker tapes – it’s just all too much, so even if we are not watching the news, you would have to be living off the gird with no access to the internet to be unaware of this global movement.

These past several weeks have shown us how quickly friends and previously polite people in our lives can turn on us and dismiss us. These past several weeks have shown us how loud and supportive our typically more quiet, more sensitive friends can really be, as well.

If book sales are any indication (several titles at the time of this writing are sold out and back ordered at major booksellers), there are plenty of people having an awakening to the systemic racism in our world and chomping at the bit to learn what they can from experts in a field they’ve never really considered relevant to them until now – anti-racism. It is unlikely that all those books have been read as of today, but it is encouraging and does show a desire to do something and to learn about one’s role in all this through Layla F. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy: A 28 Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, and learn to recognize white fragility the somewhat sneaky phenomenon through White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, and get a crash course on the parts of Western history our history classes skipped and how they influence our present day in Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. These are just three of many, many books and resources out there. (A quick note, if the physical book is on back order and will not arrive for several weeks, consider buying the audiobook version, that way you can support the work and the author, as well as getting your hands or ears on the material as soon as possible.)

This is all happening now in the collective. People are waking up, people are fired up, and many Black people are already exhausted by all the lip service coming from celebrities and companies saying how much they care when the evidence just isn’t there. As a BIPOC (BIPOC as a term represents many of us who have been unrepresented and overtly oppressed, Black, Indigenous, Person of Color, someone who identifies as this term may be only one of those things, or all of those things), I am feeling partially encouraged by the greater awakening and also unimpressed and upset that it took many folks – mostly white folks, let’s be honest – so very long to even start to acknowledge our lived experiences. I feel this just about every single day.

So, because all of this is happening, undeniably so, in the collective, almost regardless of which country you live in – it should not surprise you that this would be appearing in a Facebook group near you! Not everyone is an anti-racist educator, truly most of us and most of the Facebook group moderators are not, yet as a moderator, you must be clear on what energy you going to allow and support in the group, and what energy you will disallow. These past several weeks have certainly been a strong test of this.

Today, I learned that someone I called friend, someone who used to call me “babe,” goddess,” and “queen,” was just as quick to call me “bully” for bringing up a dissenting opinion and calling for us in the spiritually community to do better. This white woman calls herself spiritually minded and a supporter of the fierce rising of the feminine energy on the planet. And yet, when a BIPOC actually began to rise in her private Facebook group, she chose to quickly call her “triggered,” inaccurately label her questioning and calling up comments as “bullying,” and label the simple naming of someone’s white privilege “a rash comment about her race,” then almost as quickly eject this BIPOC from the mostly white spiritual community.

When the climate is full of BIPOC speaking up about their experiences and white people choosing to mute themselves on social media for an entire week to listen more and allow more digital space for Black voices to come through, this moderator and digital magazine owner chose to protect white sensitivity over all else. When things get tough, we show others what we are really made of. Or as Glennon Doyle writes in Untamed, “We are mugs filled to the brim, and we keep getting bumped. If we are filled with coffee, coffee will spill out. If we are filled with tea, tea will spill out. Getting bumped is inevitable. If we want to change what spills out of us, we have to work to change what’s inside us.” This situation showed me what was inside this person who called me friend.

I will gladly share the screenshots of the original post and the personal message between myself and the magazine owning moderator because they tell the story plainly. The screenshots show the original spiritually bypassing post that is not amazingly healthy for your typical white person to hear, and definitely not healthy or supportive for a BIPOC to hear at this time. They show my clear, firm, and calm response in dissent of the statement. The screenshots of my conversation with the moderator/magazine owner that start right after she asked me if I was “okay, love, you seem triggered,” show how quickly my dissenting perspective got me kicked out of the so-called sisterhood.

It is a great disservice to make a post or share a transmission with the world without some sort of note for BIPOC when you are telling your audience to not be angry, especially in this current climate. From a cold and purely PR perspective, it is also not a great call in this current climate to ignore us. For instance, the original post spoke of an important message that needed to be shared and that may be resonant for many about never getting angry and never choosing division. A nice sentiment. Practically impossible to follow in real life, for we all get angry at times and we are here on this Earth in 3D to feel our feelings, to live an embodied life. Additionally, many goddesses in all different cultures embrace these perhaps darker emotions like anger as another aspect of their divinity. And calling out separation and unfairness itself, calling a thing a thing, is not “choosing division,” but the original post certainly is glossing over that with spiritual bypassing.

We all want unity and world peace, yes. But we cannot skip over our society’s issues and our responsibility to solve them just to run into the arms of peace and love because that unity would be false. A country under dictatorial rule has unity, in a sense, but I think we can all agree that is not the unity we have in mind when we think of ascension.

White fragility – being unable to hear that you are white and have white privilege, being unable to acknowledge that your statement glosses over grounded and very valid reasons for anger, being unable to hear that you could have been clearer about what you meant especially in the climate of the Black Lives Matter movement, calling the BIPOC who even dare mention race a divisive bully thereby making the white original poster a victim in need of protection, immediately shutting down and blocking a BIPOC from posting any more in your group instead of engaging with a femme when she becomes fierce even though your magazine is called ROAR Fierce Feminine Rising – all of that does not support progress or healing or solving of anything.  White fragility is very commonly found among white women, regardless of their political leanings.

In Layla F. Saad’s 2017 essays entitled, I Need to Talk to Spiritual White Women About White Supremacy, Parts One and Two, she so perfectly talks about how vital it is to be able to connect with your own inner Dark Goddess, otherwise you cannot be with that energy when a BIPOC expresses it to you; that if you cannot be with your own rage and you disown it, you will not be able to face the rage that comes out of a BIPOC when they grow frustrated with white privileged behavior and you will disown them; that if you dismiss and run away from your own grief, then you will dismiss and run away from the grief that arises from a BIPOC that comes from being oppressed and constantly discriminated against.

But what if you’re a highly sensitive person or an introverted empath, is this about you too? Are you expected to do more work and speak up? Layla F. Saad writes, “Guess what? There are highly sensitive, introverted empaths who are black and brown (like myself!) who are exhausted too. Sadly, we don’t get to opt out. I’m not saying don’t tend to your self-care needs to do this work. I’m not saying sacrifice your mental and emotional safety to do this work. I’m not saying nothing else matters except for this work. I’m saying you can do both. You can do this work, and tend to your needs. Most POC you know are doing both all the time. Whether we want to or not.”

She also so perfectly points out something that I have thought about and seen in circles – how white women in magical and spiritual circles can nod without hesitation when speaking about the witch wound – the inherited fear and anxiety about speaking up and exploring alternative paths like following our intuition because of the witch trials in Europe and North America – and yet, those same women who seem to understand intergenerational trauma in relation to the persecution of healers, will fidget and look away like children who don’t know the answer and don’t want to be called on by the teacher when the topic of slavery and institutional racism is brought up. If one can believe that wounds from a distant relative who lived in Europe during the 1500s who was killed in the town square for being a witch influences why one is nervous of being called a witch in public, then one should be able to believe and understand that 400 years of enslavement and oppression would affect nearly every single Black person one sees in North America, and beyond, today.

True, I am not Black. I am a light-skinned Latinx woman who was born and raised in the United States. I will never fully understand how Black folks feel. At the same time, I have experienced some racism by living in this body in this society. And as a non-Black POC who wishes to learn more and conduct myself as a better ally to my Black friends, I must speak up when I see something in my circle. I can afford to take some internet heat for my Black friends who, were they to speak up every time or even just sometimes, would be, no doubt, relegated by someone to the stereotype of “the angry Black woman” and dismissed outright for not having “the right tone.”

My intention with this essay is to show a real-life example of how racism shows up daily. There are some news stories and incidents where we can all agree that something is brazenly and openly racist. However, it is most often more subtle than a large group of white men carrying tiki torches at night while yelling white supremacist slogans like we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia just a few years ago.

My intention with this essay is to call out other Facebook moderators, other business owners, other spiritually minded people and to ask that you do better. Because you can.

My intention with this essay is to give a fair warning to my fellow BIPOC healers, artists, writers, etc. about this specific digital magazine because I know that we already have to keep our guard up to a certain extend when entering white dominated spiritual spaces and I would like to save you the time and potential heartbreak here.

Make no mistake about it, upholding and protecting white fragility upholds and protects white supremacy.

Will you choose to listen to BIPOC voices when they respectfully disagree with your white privileged opinion or will you cut the mic on them mid-sentence?

If you are able to support, you can send financial appreciation via PayPal.me/CarolinaIRodriguez or Venmo @Carolina-Isabel-Rodriguez Thank you!

Published by Carolina Isabel

Intuitive guide and mentor.

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