Meditation: Headspace, Grief & Injustice Length: 11 minutes & 11 seconds Where: Home Office/Guest Room, Los Angeles How It Felt: Sad but releasing
TW: racism, violence against and murder of POC
Today has been…. a rollercoaster, I guess you could say.
The morning started with all the alerts that the jury for the Derek Chauvin trial had reached a verdict and would announce soon. I had a late night and slept in, but luckily my husband caught me as I was preparing to leave the house and let me know. I put off my errands and switched the TV on to follow CNN’s coverage.
My stomach was in knots. While I was 100% sure he should be convicted, while the evidence was damning, while so many of his fellow police officers testified that he was in the wrong, still I didn’t trust the verdict that would come back. Why would I? How many killers in blue have been let off the hook on a sea of technicalities and apathy?
I paced around, nervously getting dressed, cleaning, and trying to keep busy while keeping one ear on the television, listening to family and loved ones talk about George Floyd and the kind of man he was, how deeply he was loved. Hearing people of color discussing the nonstop trauma, how they prayed for the jury to do the right thing.
I hate when you can’t do anything but wait.
Yes, we marched. We signed petitions. We made phone calls. We bought the books, and we are learning. I took an anti-racism course over the summer so intense and real I could only handle an hour of it at a time. (If it affected me that much from the safety of my White home, I can’t even imagine the trauma suffered by those who were and are still actually the victims of this system.) We’ve been doing things, sure.
But, today, there was nothing to do for George Floyd but wait.
As we now know, the jury made the right call. A murderer is going away. But it won’t bring George Floyd back to his family. It’s the very, very beginning of the work that needs done, a baby step toward change. It doesn’t erase the countless Black lives that are lost senselessly on a regular basis in this country.
How do I know that?
Because we didn’t even have time to feel relieved before Makiyah Bryant was shot FOUR TIMES by the police officer she called to help defend her. He didn’t even take a full fifteen seconds to assess or try to deescalate the situation, but instead shot a CHILD to death- shot her four times in the chest- because he saw a knife in her hand. A knife she was using to defend herself from others.
She wasn’t attacking him. She called for help. And he didn’t even attempt to help her. He just murdered her.
Make no mistake- the police are here to protect the people, as long as those people are White, and especially if they have money or live in the suburbs.
Makiyah tried to call for help. For protection. If she hadn’t trusted the police, she would be alive.
The DAY of the verdict.
This system is broken. Rather, it is working exactly as was intended, which is to work for White people to protect them from everyone else. The system needs to go. It needs rebuilt from the bottom up, replaced with something much, much different. It can’t go on like this.
I would normally not be a person who would share so publicly and in such detail my response to these situations. I would speak out, and get to work, but I don’t believe it’s fair for White people to make these things about the trauma it causes us. Our lives aren’t in constant danger. We aren’t living under the unrelenting, nonstop stress of daily racism, large and small. We can’t understand what that must be like, no matter how we try. However much these incidents upset us, we will never, ever really know how deep that grief and fear must run.
I’m writing all of this in this way because I’m writing about my meditation experience, and I want to do so as honestly as possible. I also want to call attention to the horror of these events, yes. I feel odd sharing how it affects me. For this one little bit here, I’m going to, however, so I can explain what the meditation felt like.
Headspace has a meditation called “Grief and Injustice,” and, in the past, I’ve scrolled past it. Something about it felt like it wasn’t for me. It felt like something made to help POC cope with their trauma. I still don’t have a clear reason for feeling this way, but it’s how I felt. Today, I decided to do it. I saw that the length was 11:11 which felt like a little Universe sign.
I figured it might also be for people like me in times like these and, if it wasn’t, it could perhaps help me understand just a little bit what others were going through. I wouldn’t be entering a safe space where my presence could disrupt things for others, at least.
The session spoke a lot about a fire inside of you, letting it burn up your grief, to send it out of your body. It talked about controlling the fire, letting it comfort you and give you power. I followed along. I pushed the fire out of my mouth like a damn dragon. I tried to listen, tried to pay attention. My mind kept wandering to Makiyah. She’s our oldest daughter’s age. I would get angry again, and then try to refocus.
One thing I really, really loved and respected was at the very end of the meditation when the guide, Rachel, asked us to pause and honor to the South Asian ancestors who created and cultivated the practice of meditation which we can now use for our own purposes. White people have ungratefully taken so much from other cultures, and it’s a practice we have to slow down and be aware of. We aren’t going to stop doing yoga or meditating or eating sushi or a million other things anytime soon, that’s obvious, but we can certainly be more mindful of the people and cultures from which we appropriated these practices. We can be more grateful, learn about the histories and intentions of those who created these things, show respect.
At some point along this journey, I will dive into the the history and cultural significance of meditation, so that we can all find deeper appreciation for this spiritual, powerful tool that we have just been handed, that we connect to a better quality of life for ourselves and not much else.
This was a heavy post, but it was a heavy day, and, frankly, it’s been a heavy 400 years. We can’t celebrate change because we haven’t changed things yet, but we can be relieved that we saw a sign today that it’s possible. We saw the result of relentless public pressure and a call to action. (Don’t you dare believe for a second this conviction would have happened without the BLM movement that sprang up last summer and is here to stay. That movement put pressure on the AG to do the right thing, and this murder would have been swept under the rug otherwise, as thousands upon thousands of senseless murders of Black people have been for hundreds of years, right up until 2021.)
I’m waking up early tomorrow to attend a talk SAG-AFTRA is live-streaming with Stacey Abrams. I just finished her book on voter suppression (and you should, too, if you care about changing anything in our country, this is the first hurdle- “Our Time Is Now”), and I want to learn more about what I can do.
Throughout history, generally a pandemic has been followed by a cultural and artistic renaissance. Change is coming. We are waking up, I truly believe that. I’m seeing it with my own eyes. But the people who are terrified of that change are going to fight with everything they have to keep power, to keep White Supremacy the law of the land, to keep the patriarchy at the top. We have to be ready, and we have to keep going.
People of color don’t have the option to get tired of it all and opt out, so we don’t either. Not if we have a conscience. Not if we want to be proud of the people we are, the lives we lived. Not if we want to be on the right side of history. Not if we want to be better people now than we were yesterday.
Not if we want to save countless lives, prevent trauma to millions, and stop the cycle we’ve built and perpetuated for our own gain.
We can’t come out of this pandemic without being different, or what on earth was it all for? We have to be better. I have to be better. To do better.
I can’t close my eyes again. At this point, it would be ignorance so willful it would cross the line into true evil. It’s time.