Loving Each Other When We’re All Different Colors
Love takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it to clear the air
Wrinkles in time
I have always envied black women’s skin. My own pale skin is not only prone to freckles, sunburn and cancer, but as an adolescent, I thought I was going to die from the shame of acne. That passed. But now I am beginning to see the wrinkles in time. There are people of every color, of course, who may have smooth, gorgeous skin, but to me, black skin seems the most beautiful.
Perhaps privilege allows me, a white woman, to talk about skin envy as if I don’t know that living in black skin is a very different reality. But I want to talk about loving all the beautiful black and brown people, BIPOC, and appreciating human skin seemed like a place to begin.
Good reads when the world’s on fire
I’ve been reading How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, a book our crazy, violent, burning time, demands. Like everyone else, I am bound to make mistakes and say stuff the wrong way. His book explains how systemic racism hurts everyone. I get it that it hurts black and brown people the most. I get it that even abolition and liberation movements have not risen to the level of inclusion we all need. I get it that saying All Lives Matter is an absurd retort to the fact that Black Lives Matter.
And, then, in the next sentence I am going to talk about how all lives do matter, because in our destruction of the planet, we need all lives to step up and protect life itself. No one should say “all lives matter” in response to Black Lives Matter, but we do have to make room for the context of life on Earth improving for all of us.
Non-whites have the most to lose
People living in beautiful black and brown skin, are disproportionately dying because structural racism forces them to live and work in polluted places, eat unhealthy food, attend schools that are underfunded, keep people in low paying jobs, and fund disparate incarceration laws.
While people are out marching all this week, contaminants such as tear gas and pepper spray were deployed to brutalize those who are protesting brutality. As if we have not polluted the air enough already.
This adds yet another haze of toxic air, literally, in a time of pandemic. Until we can teach our police to actually protect and serve us, we should at the very least be able to demand they stop poisoning us.
“I Can’t Breathe” signs abound, and our employees are trying to see that fewer of us actually can.
My brothers and sisters who may not feel included in environmental causes are more than welcome to join all causes for a more just world, and that includes a healthy environment for those with the most to lose.
Clean air, food, and water
You don’t have to become a vegan to become a flexitarian who eats less meat. I eat meat only on weekends, but I stay aware that many black and brown people are the ones who allow me to eat at all. They disproportionately work in slaughterhouses and meat industries, so are at greater risk of contracting diseases like COVID 19. They very often grow, and distribute, all our fruits and vegetables, too.
It is a privilege to have choice. We all have bodies that deserve better choices. Regard your beautiful, breath-taking body as a sacred temple and demand clean air, food, and water.
I think that the environmental movement overall has been much too slow to include social justice as a foundational pillar. All over the world, those who pay the price for dirty energy consumption need clean air, water, and food, but they won’t get it without equality. Prosperity only comes with an end to every type of exploitation, including the exploitation of human resources. Human work and energy must create a measurable profit to workers, not just to an elite class. Property ownership too, long denied to non-white people is also about a cleaner world. When you create a community with better opportunities for all, you can reset our cities to cleaner, greener, protective places with no food deserts, and natural habitats friendly to humans and wildlife. Owning your own home ensures also that it remains better cared for. It is just as true for a planetary home, as a household.
Healthy habitats for humans
When we value the Earth as a shared habitat, we value and love one another more.
Having quality, available healthcare is also a race issue, because in a for profit medical system, too many people are overlooked. I don’t know if we have to destroy capitalism in healthcare, but at the very least we need a makeover of it. It is all too easy to turn to addictions of every kind when there are few opportunities to live a healthy lifestyle offered. Obesity is a problem for just as many white people as non-whites, but it comes from a system where junk food is far more addictive than healthy food. You might ask yourself, who gets rich by keeping us addicted to sugar and fat, to say nothing of those poor orangutans and Amazon dwellers that are going extinct?
For a better planet, we need better people, according to the World Health Organization, WHO, we need to better habits for health.
Have a cause and live for it
I often read that we need to make a distinction between things like animal rights and human rights. I don’t think that is true. I think true compassion compels us to honor both, at least a little bit, each and every day. There are plenty of studies that show caring about places and biospheres makes better people.
Sociopaths don’t care about either.
This does not mean that I think we should make no distinction between animals and people. On the contrary, I think as the most dominant animals, we have to look at domination itself with a much more critical lens. We need to disallow the illusion that we are separate. Even pollinators, the source of most of our food, are going extinct.
All systems on Earth rely on cooperation and collaboration. We have dominated the rest of Earth when we allowed a system of brutal hierarchy to ruin it all.
We all need to have a cause, a purpose, a calling. Earth doesn’t have a love it or leave it option. We live here.
This week, we do need to be angry, but remember ultimately, we need to love to survive.
I love you no matter your color, gender, or even your species — except zoonotic food borne viruses — I hate those guys! I want all voices, especially the unheard ones, to tell their living truth. And if you can allow me to say things the wrong way sometimes, I am willing to hear how to do better.
It’s time to reform everything from how we police our communities, to what, or who, is on the dinner plate. Sit down together, break bread, reset.
If we’re ever fortunate enough to sit together, know that I find it really difficult to stick to one topic. For an ecopsychologist, there are no unrelated topics. There are just many threads in our social fabric woven together relating to jobs, healthcare, environment, and yes, our racism, but also our love.
Science and sense
I will not say I am not an animal, because until we recognize we are animals, too, we won’t protect one another and the other living beings that make Earth tolerable. I will not say I’m not a racist, because all of us were born into racism, and we have to actively demand people face the science and sense of only one human race, to defeat racism once and for all.
We are one race with just one planet.
I began by telling you how I love black skin. The truth is I love every hue, and someday, if we survive ourselves, we will likely have every hue of human on the same side. To get there we need both cultural diversity and biodiversity.
We all breathe the same air. We have to clear that air, in order to breathe.