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01 October 2017

A Return to Love

The Mother’s Nature has always been about love. Love for our families, our children, the world that teaches us so much, moments of insight and experiences of inspiration. Love for my lovers, love for art, love for the creative spirit, for the nutritive wealth that is love and creation and acts of creativity in service of nurturing our children; creating things tangible and intangible that we call “art”—painting, music, afronauts, street art, poetry, hip hop; and seeing the world in another way—seeing one another in new ways.

Despite Cornel West's disappointing critiques of late, he has made strong observations that I have found valuable. He once said, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public” (in private, this is tenderness). And his words have resonated deeply in me for decades. Even when I write about art or romantic, even intimate, love I see them as revolutionary acts. When I talk with my 6 year old son about our world and some of its deepest violences—injustice, hate, anger, racism, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia—I think what I most want him to hear is that love, tenderness and justice are doing right by one another. I teach him that we all come from Creator, because that is what I believe; we all come from Source and so we are all of and by Creator and we share in Source. Source binds us and therefore we are one another. If we do not know this spiritually, perhaps science and nature can teach us.

The Mother’s Nature, like all my writing, is about love: tenderness for my child and lover, justice for my sisters and brothers. Love and justice are revolutionary because in and through them, we manifest our best, most Source selves in the world. Giving what we are on Earth, here and now, to give is revolutionary—transformative; being exactly what Source has made us to be is revolutionary—we re-create ourselves and the world. Real love, real justice, real creation are all of these. They are the mother’s (and father’s) nature: to make, to give, to nurture, to encourage from soil and flesh the very best in us, in all living things.

It is in this spirit that I rebirth the Mother’s Nature now, at harvest time when we look back to all we have created and reap what we have sown and nurtured. A time when we bring from our gardens squash and apples where they deliver their gifts to our bodies, and we are re-created.

I have in many posts talked about love, art, and culture, and diversity and justice—tangentially and transparently. Whether either or both, this was always intentional. The time has come to step out from my own shadow, the fear being misunderstood, and bring into the world a gift I believe I have been given. Because, if I don’t, my own life loses meaning: I am not delivering what Source gave me to give.

It’s time to talk about love-justice in a new way.

Michael Harriot recently wrote, perfectly, "White supremacy is the structural mechanism built into American society that values whiteness over everything by default." This is what I want to talk about. Many of us know we must #endwhitesupremacy, what we may not know is exactly how. As I learned real quick when my son was about 2 years old: if you want to course correct, you will need something “right” (healthy, harmonious, balanced) to focus on in order to move away from “wrong” (toxic, imbalanced, supremacist). No, he cannot throw metal toy trains across the living room. Yes, we can go outside and shoot baskets. Move the energy, in earnest and with intent, in the direction we want to go.

Righting balance means there are things we—especially white people—must stop doing, and other things we must start doing. I’m here to suggest a new direction. Stop white supremacy, and start #mitakuyeoyasin.

I’m a privileged white woman. One way I was allowed to thrive due to that privilege was to have been told repeatedly I could go anywhere. And they were right: I could go nearly anywhere. White supremacist bullshit, however, also tells white folks they can go anywhere and behave any way they want. I was at least distrustful of the system enough to know that was bullshit—because in a white supremacist system, only your own [white, male, hetero, etc, etc.] feelings and values matter. That never made sense to me. Of course others' feelings and values matter. Therefore I was often welcomed into black and brown spaces because I at the very least valued what they had to say, who they were, what they had to teach me. I’m not perfect, I made mistakes, but I also went to those places—black and brown spaces—and learned more than I could possibly have imagined—because I wanted to learn. Primarily because I recognized very early on in life that the culture I was living in not only wasn’t nutritive or healthy, it was toxic in a million ways. I sought other cultures not only because they were beautiful, because something in them resonated in my own chest, but because I knew I needed to learn from them if I wanted to thrive and if I wanted humanity to survive at all. Humanity, mind you, not human beings.

So, when I suggest we turn our energies in a new direction—mitakuye oyasin, “all my relations” or “we are all related”—know that right here and now I am doing exactly what I recommend: that we, white people, white supremacist systems and institutions, and everyone begin to value and learn from cultures that have been resolutely put down, devalued and attacked from every side in white supremacy’s effort to annihilate them.

2010, Standing Rock, pregnant and gathering sage from downwind, because plants have the sense of smell
Learning other cultures, and coming to places where we can adopt their practices in mind, body, heart
Unci Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance
and spirit—without engaging in negative appropriation (yes, there is positive appropriation)—is hard work. I’ve made mistakes in this realm, hopefully learned from them, and expect to make many more—but only because the desire to learn more, to learn better, to be better and to right these wrongs we are surrounded by is more important than pride, than appearing perfect. It requires, in every way, being humble, attempting empathy, and being willing to face our own shit. But it’s worth it. I’m better, my life is better, my child’s world is better because I have been willing to fuck up and learn and change. Because I want better for everyone, for you, for children, for wingeds and four-leggeds and all living and growing things.

I invite you to come with me down this new road in coming posts. I invite you to join me in learning more about mitakuye oyasin from the grandmothers and others, so that we can learn to create a new harmony together, in society and between one another: as brothers and sisters. You can start here by listening to the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers.

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