“Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On this week’s Insightful Conversations, I had the pleasure of speaking with Alvin Dawkins. Alvin is a jazz bassist, composer-songwriter, recording artist, 3 Principles Practitioner, and soon-to-be author. I asked Alvin to come on the show after I heard him speak at the Reimagining Our Spiritual Communities Series, hosted by Julieanne Chazotte and Rohini Ross.
With a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology, Alvin is passionate about enlightening and honest conversations around social and economic injustices, unconscious bias, white privilege, and racism. Furthermore, Alvin wants to share his ideas on what we in our spiritual communities can do to educate and bring healing and awareness to these issues. In his words, “If not us, then who?”
As Alvin shared what it was like growing up in the ugliness of Alabama’s Jim Crow segregation and apartheid, I had a visceral reaction to what I was hearing. Stories of how as a small child, he and his family would go to the local town on a Saturday. There he would witness the visible signs of segregation demonstrated by the separate drinking fountains in the department stores, Greyhound bus stations, and Atlantic Coastline railroad station. Or when he visited the doctor’s office, he had to wait in a small, cramped, airless room with the sign above the door that read “Colored waiting room.” It was only years later, after integration, Alvin was allowed into the much nicer, more expansive, air-conditioned waiting room formerly reserved for “Whites only.”
I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for this innocent young boy to grow up with the message that due to the color of his skin, he was somehow “less than” a white-skinned boy.
For many people, myself included, I innocently believed that as a country, we had come a long way since the days of segregation and apartheid. I remember how I felt when Obama was elected President of the United States. I was elated. I felt that the country had turned a corner, and we were making strides towards equality and inclusion. Unfortunately, the sad truth is, as evidenced with the rise in White Supremacy, we haven’t come as far as I had believed.
As I sit here today, I am acutely aware that we are a nation on high alert. With bated breath, we are awaiting the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial. Cities across the US are boarding up in preparation for the anticipated violence should Derek Chauvin be acquitted. Protestors are out in the streets of Minnesota and Chicago, calling for justice in the deaths of 20-year-old Daunte Wright and thirteen-year-old Adam Toledo.
We can not ignore the situation any longer. We cannot put our heads back in the sand. We must educate ourselves on the truth of what it means to be black and brown in America today.
Participating in the Reimagining Our Spiritual Communities has opened my eyes to the numerous areas, where unbeknownst to me, racial injustices still exist. There have been some improvements made, but there is so much more that needs to be done. Racism is more than hateful words. For many, this is a life-or-death situation. We only have to look at the growing number of unarmed young black men brutalized and killed by the police to be reminded of this fact.
I agree with Alvin, “If not us, then who?” Those of us within our spiritual communities are the most equipped to take on discrimination and racial injustice. We know experientially that we all emanate from the same spiritual source. That spiritually, we are all created equal. That hate cannot conquer hate. That violence cannot quell violence. Only love and compassion will break through the hatred and ignorance of those who live in fear of “the other.”
As a spiritual community, we are uniquely qualified to see beyond the atrocities of those that let fear fuel their actions. As a spiritual community, we can see the psychological innocence that lies beneath those that perpetrate crimes against our brothers and sisters. Furthermore, as a spiritual community, it is our obligation to stand up against hatred and bigotry and help bring compassion and healing to those who are suffering.
From what I have learned, conversations around racism are challenging for people on all sides. We need to have the courage to participate in these difficult conversations if we seek to learn from each other. We need to respect each other’s lived experiences. We need to welcome more diversity within our spiritual communities and in our leadership positions. Only then can we begin to heal and truly come together as one.
With love and appreciation, Del 💕