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Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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An Unprecedented Opportunity

From a talk to Co-Counselors, on Zoom, by Barbara Love (International Liberation Reference Person 
for African Heritage People) and Tim Jackins (International Reference Person 
for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities), June 7, 2020

Tim Jackins: Welcome, everyone. Thank you for making the effort to get here on such short notice. I’m very pleased you are here. We are here to be part of a big struggle to change the world into one that is no longer based on mistreating and exploiting people. Our societies are functioning worse and worse for the vast majority of the world’s people. And present conditions are making everything obvious enough that the possibility of change seems within reach. Barbara? 

Barbara Love: Thank you. I’m so excited about this gathering. There are eight hundred-plus people participating! We are here because we care and because we are committed and determined to have a new world.

What’s new right now in this historical moment is that the whole world seems to be on board [ready to act together]. That is new and exciting and opens up powerful possibilities for changing the world. This is the moment we have been waiting for. 

The world is burning up, and a climate-change denier is in the position of power in one of the most powerful countries in the world. A pandemic killer is loose in the world, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying. Meanwhile, the primary concern of a bunch of people is to get the economy open again. Extraordinary! Just extraordinary. 

What has prompted us to come together at this moment is that racism—individual, systemic, institutional racism—is on glaring display in its raw, naked form. It is seen and understood by more people probably than at any time in history. More people can see it, understand it, and recognize it as reprehensible and wrong and needing to be changed. This is new. This is different. It doesn’t mean that racism is new or that it hasn’t shown itself in a form like this before. But for it to be seen and recognized so universally—that is new. That is powerful. That is different. 

Three things are coming together—COVID-19, climate change, and this global spotlight on racism. This is creating an unprecedented moment in history. I’m calling it the Moment of the Millennia. We are going to seize this moment to make the changes we’ve been wanting to make, to create a new world that is characterized by fairness and justice and equity. We will seize this moment to usher in that new world. 

I’m also calling this an existential moment. We literally face a threat to our existence—the climate crisis. The peril is real, and it is clear to nearly everyone. We know what needs to be done. At the same time, there are people who will be silent, who will deny, who will derail, disrupt, avoid, and pretend. There are people who could make a significant difference—and what do they do? They pull us out of the agreements that could lessen this threat to our existence. They refuse to provide the funds to the nations that need them to make the changes that are necessary to avert the climate crisis. They revoke regulations and policies that could make a difference. We see the nature of the struggle. The veil of ignorance has been pierced. Things will never be the same again. This reality allows us to make the changes that are needed. 

COVID-19 has rocked the world. Probably more glaringly than the climate crisis, it has shown us the cracks and the crevices, the disequalities, the inequities and disproportionalities in our societies. Frontline workers who are bearing the brunt of the burden are disproportionately Black and Brown. We bang our pots and pans, we call them heroes, but we haven’t been able to raise their wages, give them personal protective equipment, give them sick leave, or extend their vacation time. COVID-19 rates of infection, rates of hospitalization, and rates of death show the disproportionalities that have always been there, but that we have been able to ignore and slide right over. We have been able to pretend that they don’t exist. That has changed. We can no longer ignore those disproportionalities. 

The death of George Floyd—and, I always add, of the two Native men killed by Chauvin before he killed Floyd—with no accountability and no consequences; the deaths of Breonna Taylor and hundreds of others—these deaths are not unusual. They are not new. What is different is that more people know about them. More people have the information. My cousin was killed by a police chokehold just a few years ago, uttering those same words, “I can’t breathe.” There was no protest because it was an everyday occurrence. But this little device [she holds up a smartphone] has made all the difference. Information about what happens can no longer be hidden. It can no longer be disputed. And it can be shared worldwide. People are in the streets worldwide. That is different. 

Two years ago, I wrote a “roll call” on the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members. It was a roll call of Black people who had been killed in police custody with no accountability. Someone wrote back to the list saying, “Oh, those people must have been doing something wrong for the police to kill them. The police would never have killed them if they hadn’t been doing something wrong.” I don’t think I would get that kind of letter today. I don’t think anyone would be mistaken in that fashion. The veil covering racism has been pulled back. Racism has been exposed in a way that cannot be disputed, both in the United States and globally. 

I suggest you do the following things:

  • Discharge! Discharge despair. Discharge discouragement—discouragement is always old. Discharge hopelessness. Discharge powerlessness.
  • Remember the truth about us. Remember our love, our goodness, our brilliance, our connection, our power. This truth will be crucial to us in the days ahead.
  • Hold out your vision of a world that works well for everyone. Lift up your voice, share your thinking. Describe in detail the world you want. Do not do this because you are an ally. Do this because you want a world characterized by equity, fairness, and justice. Do this for you.
  • Rally the people around you—in your workplace, in your family, in suburbia, in your gentrified neighborhood. Rally your community of people to get behind you and your vision—because this is the moment when we can do this; we can do this together.

RC theory and practice give us a particular vantage point—one outside the distortions caused by an oppressive society; by racism, genocide, anti-Semitism, sexism and male domination, classism, ageism, the oppression of young people, and so on. Use that vantage point to direct your efforts to create this new world to replace the collapsing society, a world that works well for everyone.

Tim: I would add one small step. Many of us need to get farther out into the world. Our distresses have held us back from finding out about what’s really going on [happening]. Our fears (for example, about COVID-19) can make us sit back and mostly “listen about” reality. But I think we have to go out there to find out what is really going on. We have to be thoughtful and not take unnecessary chances, but we can challenge ourselves where our fears have left us too scared to find out about reality. Have sessions, and then take a couple of steps farther out than you have ever done before.

Barbara: Tim mentioned that we may be scared. Of course we are. But that’s something to be discharged. Notice all your feelings. Don’t judge any of them. Feel them, feel them, and let them go. To People of the Global Majority (and actually to all of us), your rage is righteous. You’re entitled to it. Feel it, discharge it. But don’t be seduced by the idea that rage will give you energy and help you as you engage in action. That’s false. If you don’t discharge it, it can “eat you up.” It is to be discharged. 

Your natural zest, energy, power, and brilliance are enough. You are enough. Anything that whispers in your ear that you are “not the one,” that “Barbara must be talking about those other people, not me,” is something to be discharged. You are the one. 

Tim: We are here to support each other. We are here to borrow each other’s resource to move ahead. We are here to change our perspectives, using each other. We can do great things, just as any human can. We will get more chances. But, as Barbara said, this is a very special chance. None of us, including those who went out protesting fifty years ago, have ever seen an opportunity this big. It isn’t that it’s the last chance, but why would we pass up any chance?

We get to be alive, more alive than we’ve yet dared. We get this chance to make differences so that everyone can get the chances we’ve had and get to change the world. In RC we have (who knows how many) people all looking in the same direction, all knowing how to start thinking about this and improve our thinking as we go on. I think we have all the conditions necessary. We have work to do, and we get to happily do it, and we get to do it together. 

As a final thing, Barbara and I are “unmuting” everyone so you can look at and hear all these hundreds of participants, saying and waving goodbye until next time. Unmute! 

(Present Time 200, July 2020)

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00