The Spiritual is Political

Written by: Maria Antoniou





Remember this time last year, following the death of George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, when we (white people) resolved to educate ourselves and ‘do better’?


Well, did you educate yourself? Are you doing better?


As protestors took to the streets and took the knee, I watched my white, female peers ‘wake up’ to their (our) racial privilege; pledging to ‘take responsibility,’ to speak up against prejudice, and buy from Black-owned businesses…


Was it a movement or a moment?


But was it a movement or a ‘moment’ in our online business communities? Was it a genuine

awakening to the historical and present-day horrors of racial injustice? A genuine resolve to make a change? Or was it simply performative posting about racism because we had to, not wanting to be left behind in the now seemingly ‘woke’ online world? And have we now drawn the protective blanket of silence back over our heads?


I work part-time in the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) field, so ‘the work’ for me has been on-going all year. Indeed, as a minoritized ethnic person, ‘the work’ has been happening my whole life.


I was born into a Cypriot family, in a very racially diverse area of East London. Racism was always on my doorstep, often literally, as I grew up during the hey-day of the National Front – a far-right political party whose supporter base included the white, working-class residents of East London. My primary school, however, worked hard at ‘multiculturalism’ – the encouragement of racial and cultural differences – so, both racism and anti-racism featured strongly in my childhood.


My upbringing hasn’t made me ‘not-racist’ though, just more aware of racist discourses and more able to challenge them and promote change.


Early on, I became aware of another difference: I am a lesbian. For a while, I also totally rejected conventional femininity and adopted, what is now known as, a ‘non-binary’ gender expression.


During this time, I got to intimately know the damage that discrimination and exclusion can do to

one’s confidence and self-esteem. I’m still rebuilding from that, in many ways.


My spiritual work is inevitably informed by my lived experience – as it is for all of us whether we

realise it or not. The accepted spiritual ‘truths’ that we share on social media and use as the basis of our courses and coaching, often reflect and serve social privilege.


They are not ‘universal’ in their application at all.


Of course, People of Colour have been telling us this for years and we’ve hardly been listening.


See Rachel Elizabeth Cargle’s excellent Instagram post and accompanying meme, for example: “Maybe you manifested it, maybe it’s white privilege”… The opportunities that white people enjoy often come to us because of our race, rather than our spiritual powers.


Us white spiritual coaches still have a lot of stepping up to do. We need to question the spiritual

concepts we, often unthinkingly, repeat. We need to consider how our words might sound to people who are not white, not heterosexual, not cis gender, or for other reasons do not have social power and privilege in our Western societies.


We need to filter our accepted spiritual ‘truths’ through a politically-informed point of view. Otherwise, we’re part of the problem, perpetuating the status quo.


Here are a few suggestions, based on my own personal work:


We are not all ‘one’ – At a spiritual level, we may have unity consciousness, but we cannot

live exclusively in the fifth dimension (while we’re alive) and so we can’t ignore or by-pass

social power dynamics.


Changing our mindset and our beliefs will not change our lives - Unless we change

oppressive social systems at the same time, starting by examining the ways we each

internalise and perpetuate these structures and norms.


Feminine energy is not ‘more aligned’ or natural to us than masculine energy – White

supremacist patriarchy genders everything, including the energy polarity of ‘receptive’ and

‘active’ and natural phenomena like the Earth and the Moon. Speaking of masculine and

feminine energy just reinforces the gender binary and alienates many womxn, particularly

when this is done from a heterosexist standpoint too.


Ignoring ‘the negative’ and only focusing on ‘the positive’ is not the answer – Yes, it may

help us raise our personal ‘vibe’ for manifesting, but it also loudly shouts about our privilege.

Being able to shelter ourselves from ‘negative’ events, experiences, or reactions isn’t possible

for most socially marginalised people. Our anger, upset, and despair is regularly aroused by

direct discrimination, or by something unjust we see on television or in the news. We don’t

always have the luxury of ‘choosing our reaction,’ of stepping away, and focusing on

gratitude instead.


If you’re a white – and/or otherwise socially privileged – spiritual entrepreneur, I hope this article

has triggered you and/or made you think. I strongly believe that social activism and social change is part of our spiritual purpose here on Earth. How else can we fully create the ‘oneness’ we seek?




 

Originally published in Issue 2 · April/May 2021 issue of SOULACY.

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