How I decided to take action on anti-racism and decolonising
“I had done an I Ching on this stuff about colonialism because it’s off of my beaten path. I mean, I’ve never formally addressed it. I’ve always been involved with the environmental or the feminist, It’s been feminism and it’s been environmentalism…. when I did the I Ching what it said was, yeah, this would be valuable for you to address. … I don’t know if I would have done it without that. Exactly, I wouldn’t, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have followed through on it because it’s so, so out of my comfort zone. And so out of my area of knowledge. And I’m not unaware of how triggering it is for everyone.”Sasha Daucus
How I joined the Deep Adaptation Forum
I heard Jem Bendell speak on a podcast, recommended by someone from my organisation who is also a Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) participant. What he said about the science of climate change and collapse wasn’t new to me, but his emphasis on love and the reduction of harm resonated with me. It gave me a new perspective on how I should live and what to do with my life.
Hearing him speak of the spirit of Deep Adaptation made me feel more relaxed, self-accepting, and reunited with my true self. So I joined the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group.
How I decided to take action in the field of anti-racism and colonialism
Reading a certain conversation thread in the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group, I discovered the link between collective trauma, climate change, and colonialism. That felt very true to me.
I understood that colonialism is a reason for not taking action on climate change. I read more on this, including the work of Vanessa Andreotti. I wanted to do this in companionship with someone else.
Also, I did an I Ching reading, and it said that I should be working on these topics. So I decided I would address colonialism.
How the Diversity and Decolonising Circle started
During the DAF Strategy Options Dialogue, I realised that I wasn’t interested in the topics of “prepping” for collapse, survival kits, etc. I’ve been through this phase, and I am much more interested in engaging with as much adaptation that is focused on our connection with the Earth, to reestablish that sense of connection. It was thanks to a Facebook conversation thread that I got to first read comments from Wendy Freeman, which resonated with me. I remembered her name, and felt a sense of connection with her.
Later, I met Wendy during a Death Cafe session. The space felt so safe that I was able to share about a particular life-changing experience with her and another person, which I have only rarely been able to do so far. These experiences encouraged us to create the Diversity & Decolonising Circle together. I received important mentoring from Nenad and Kat in the Community Action group that helped get the group going. Kat and others joined in, and from the beginning it was an inspiring group to work in.
Soon after its creation, the Black Lives Matter movement came center-stage with the murder of George Floyd, and people were open to doing anti-racism work within the framework of DAF.
White supremacy and me
In November 2020, the D&D circle hosted our first event – the “Dismantling Racism” training, facilitated by Nontokozo Sabic. It was our first foray in attempting to decolonize DAF.
Helping to organize this training made me very wide open to the message. So it landed very deep in me, and I felt deeply shocked at how invisible my privilege had been to me. How could I have not seen that? I sort of knew it, but didn’t actually feel what it meant. It made me realise I didn’t have a very good grasp on the difference between individual responsibility, and being involved in systemic oppression which has indoctrinated us into white supremacy.
The strong emotions this brought up in me, along with external challenges that came from the work we were doing, brought me a lot of stress and made me feel off-center. Conflict broke out between myself and another member of the circle. The situation became very messy, and I struggled to find a way out of it.
I heard a member of the circle mention the need for us in the circle to get better at “calling in,” instead of “calling out.” I didn’t know what it meant. But this felt like somebody was throwing a rope to me that might help. And fortunately, another friend suggested to me there was a course on “Calling In the Calling Out Culture,” held by Loretta Ross. I signed up to it, eager to find some helpful insights.
The course was really good. I encountered many concepts there that helped me ease my sense of personal shame. For example, Loretta mentioned an analogy that I found very helpful: “If you buy a house, and the plumbing is bad, you’re not to blame for the plumbing – but don’t you want to get it fixed?” This made me realise that while we’re all responsible, we’re not to blame.
To me, one of the really big obstacles of trying to get through this work is trying to get through that sensation of it landing in my body – that I have benefited massively from a system of white supremacy. I didn’t create it, and I don’t consciously want to perpetuate it. And I need to really pay attention to how I might do this inadvertently. I need to use my voice, as somebody who stands in the system, to say, “We really need to change it. This plumbing really is leaking, and it’s leaking on other people’s heads. I’m in the top apartment, and they’re living underneath me.”
I so appreciated the content of the course and its facilitators that since then, I have helped to facilitate it myself, as a volunteer, on several occasions. I am now hoping to introduce the “Calling In the Calling Out Culture” workshop to DAF participants.
How the circle helped us transform conflict
In going through these difficulties, I have also benefited from Nontokozo’s ability to hold a space of holding accountable the rest of us in the circle, while expressing her love. That is not an easy thing, and I find it very rare.
The love and bond in our circle generally has also been essential. Our relationships were tested – some of us did get angry, and take some of this out on each other. But love, and the bonds that we had created, helped carry us through this very difficult time.
In particular, one of us had the courage to step up and help facilitate a conflict that emerged between myself and another person in the circle. This conflict resolution process was difficult and painful, but very important. It was part of the deepest learning that I’ve done. Thanks to it, I realised the other person and myself had very different working styles and ways of thinking. So I quit trying to make the other person think like me, and gave them more space! And I think we then backed off and reoriented on our work. And that gave us a pause, enough for there to be healing and growth. We were then able to come back together with more understanding, and great affection, and trust that we could handle really difficult experiences.
Another thing that helped me and others was that we had stated a strong mission for the group that was more important to us than our personal pain. I know that I was able to reorient on that purpose. Even at difficult times, I reminded myself of my commitment to the group and its mission.
This experience also reminded me that love doesn’t always mean sentiments and good feelings. Sometimes, it means really reaching for that part of you that cares and wants to do good.
What I have learned and experienced in the Forum
Being in the D&D circle has been an important experience, for which I am very grateful.
Not only do I feel that with this work, I’m hopefully contributing to making this world a little better in terms of racism. I’ve also benefited so deeply from taking a look at how oppression works. I’ve realised that as for myself, I’m both the oppressor and the oppressed: even though I grew up feeling a victim, due to what I’ve experienced, others in the world were faring even worse than me, due to systemic racism.
And when I can get the attention off my own pain, and pay attention to how the system is impacting other people, I get the benefit of understanding how oppression is playing out in my life. And I get better at speaking up when I’m in a situation in which I need to stand up for myself.
- D&D Circle: Our transformation
- How to enable and embody decolonial forms of radical collective change in DAF?
- Deep Adaptation as Psychological First Aid
- Conscious Learning Festival – Getting access to another level of thinking and intuition consistently
- How I am helping to catalyse support efforts in the Ukraine