Last summer, I found out the owner of the online business company I was using (they supplied my website, membership site, email services and shopping cart) is a far-right anti-feminist "racism isn't real stop believing in it" kind of person, and was sharing their views in public, while presenting themselves as a thought leader for spiritual entrepreneurs.
I brought it up in the Facebook group for their customers. Now - this was software marketed at spiritual entrepreneurs. So these people are all about love and light and living your purpose.
I had just been on a really inspiring call about anti-racism in the online small business community and was all full of "OH YES WE CAN CHANGE THIS" energy (which you can watch on this page) and so I totally forgot how spiritual white people get when you bring up racism...
When the racist, ignorant comments I received in response to my post were not deleted or responded to in any way (other than one staff member putting HEARTS on them!) that really told me everything I needed to know about the company culture. I started working on a plan to move my business.
The fact that so many people in the New Age community are lost in their white fragility is NOT just about racism.
It's also about the New Age's inability to look at itself with any kind of clarity.
Byron Katie's The Work was helpful to me at one point, and I know it's helped millions of people.
AND it's just one tool amount MANY approaches in the New Age that have that kind of "I am 100% responsible for my life and there is nothing that happens outside of me" bullshit.
"I'm just going to change the way I think about this problem and them *POUF* PROBLEM! SOLVED!"
(I mean - I did 4 years of classes and then interned to be a teacher and counsellor and then then taught and counselled at a spiritual school whose motto is "Change your thinking, change your life".)
This is where context matters.
OMG yes we need to take responsibility for ourselves.
But, because the tools of the New Age are colonized practices, taken without any understanding of the context from which they came from, we lost the whole community aspect.
Change your thinking, change your life is a helpful approach when you are 100% the thing that is in your way.
The problem is:
- it doesn't work for people who face systemic oppression because it does nothing to change things
- it keeps you focused on changing yourself, instead of changing the things outside of you that hold everyone's dreams hostage
- when you look more deeply, this approach is often about making your actual feelings wrong which is extremely problematic for everyone, but again, is going to work best for the people who have the most privilege and have experienced the least trauma.
Everything I wrote about in "We want a better world for everyone. How do we start?" shows how we're leaving most of the people in the world out when we take these kinds of approaches. Change your thinking change your life just leaves a lot of people all alone with their trauma and oppression.
When you're so focused on your own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs being the cause of what's happening in your life - how does that impact how you see a homeless person?
Do you think they should change their thoughts to change their life?
Do you think about the larger systemic issues that cause homelessness or do you think the individual just needs to change their thinking to change their life?
Because the focus on the individual as the cause/source of problems means we're not focused on community or understanding the systems we live within.
In "The New Age has a lot of shadow work to do. Let's do it together" I wrote about how the tools we are using are colonized and removed from their context.
That context IS community care. In the New Age we use those tools for individual gain.
When I was very new to that "Change your thinking change your life" church, a friend I had just met there was moving. She was on the board of directors, super active as a volunteer, and had tons of friends in the church. I assumed there would be a ton of people helped her move and this would be a cinch.
I was the only one who showed up.
That's when I first started to wonder about the lack of community care in the New Age community.
But what I wanted to write about is the New Age's inability to look at itself with any kind of clarity.
Which IS connected to that lack of community and focus on the individual and perspective that says "whenever I have a problem that means there is something IN ME that needs to change. I am the source of everything."
And again - to be honest that attitude helped me change all sorts of things, in me, that did need to change.
But at this point in my life, after ten years of making my living in this industry and after five years of making an honest effort to learn how to be anti-racist and to get educated about the realities of current day colonization - my perspective has REALLY changed.
We need a new way of approaching our personal/spiritual growth/healing work - with an anti-racist lens, which is by definition anti-colonial and anti-capitalist lens.
Because the whole "look within for the change you seek" thing IS helpful in SOME ways - but what we lack is the CLARITY to apply it with DISCRETION.
We've been acting like we have the best hammer in the universe and absolutely everything we see becomes a nail.
We need to be able to see ourselves and our lives from a wider perspective, to see ourselves WITHIN the world we live in.
This is the stuff we miss using colonized tools from around the world - these tools all come from a community-minded context. Meanwhile we're using them in a colonized culture with a colonizer mindset.
And getting that CLARITY and WIDER PERSPECTIVE won't just help us be better citizens and won't just help us create a better world, it will help our own healing process as well.
Because the places where you've been stuck and stayed stuck are probably places where your own personal stuff INTERSECTS with systemic injustice.
So the tools that just heal and change YOU aren't going to change the problem.
Changing your thoughts is PART OF the solution but not the whole thing.
We need to dismantle systemic oppression.
Personal development and spiritual growth were never meant to happen isolated from community care and political involvement in the world you live in.
PS: The BREAKTHROUGH Alchemy Coaching Circle is next Saturday! I hope to see you there.