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Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash

White supremacy is not fringe extremism that occasionally rears its ugly head when “White power” groups, like the KKK, hold a rally. White supremacy is an entire economic and political apparatus that pervades all aspects of White-dominant societies. White supremacy is also a cultural apparatus that reinforces a particular set of values, norms, and narratives that place White, European people and their way of life, beliefs, and customs on a pedestal above other cultures. Many people doing anti-racism work have probably encountered by now the insightful article on White supremacy culture written by anti-racism educator, Tema Okun. …


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Lotus flower opening. Photo by author.

What more can I say about this month’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by white supremacists that you haven’t already heard from journalists, writers, and elected officials? I am tempted to share my outrage and anger but those emotions have already been strongly reverberated on media outlets and social media so I don’t feel the need to contribute more. I’m interested in offering something else. I want to explore how we can metabolize what happened in a way that creates a pathway for healing using my own experience.

Oppression is a process of estrangement and one of the first things oppression estranges us from is our very own bodies. Our bodies are often the site of violence, especially for people with marginalized identities, but a supremacist society conditions us to dismiss the signals that our bodies send us to let us know that we are hurting. With our somatic awareness suppressed, we become less able to process our violent experiences and heal, and the unresolved energies eventually transmute into trauma. I grew up being taught to suppress unpleasant emotions like sadness, grief, and anger, and subsequently I forgot how to listen to my body. It took years of working with a somatic therapist for me to unlearn a lot of internalized oppression and remember how to pay attention to my body. This remembrance allowed me on the day of the insurrection to maintain awareness of what was going on in my body as I witnessed on TV the violent mob taking over the capitol building. My body was tense. My stomach was pins and needles. My pupils were constricted. I noticed these sensations and knew what was happening. My body thought I was in physical danger, specifically racial danger. Growing up in the U.S. as a racialized Asian person has exposed me to countless racial microaggression and sometimes overt, physical aggression. My body has learned to be hypervigilant, staying ever alert for the threat of white assault on my Asian body. My body recognized the violence on TV and it started to feel deeply afraid even though my mind took longer to come to the same realization. As a person of color, I did not have the privilege of only feeling shock and outrage, which I did feel, but I also felt profoundly endangered. …


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Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

I am ethnically Chinese.

I was born and grew up in Myanmar for the first eight years of my life before moving to the U.S., so I also consider myself culturally Burmese.

These two aspects of my identity and upbringing play a critical role in feeding my anxiety around identifying as a person of color.

For the first 18 years of my life, I didn’t even know the term ‘people of color’ existed. I primarily identified as Chinese, Burmese, and sometimes Asian. I only learned of the term and started adopting it in college when I became active in social justice movements on campus and learned about white supremacy and the racialization of non-white people in America. These days, as a social justice educator and facilitator, I have acclimated to the term simply because it is the currently accepted term for describing non-white people. …


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People under a blossoming cherry tree. Photo by author.

My partner and I went to Prospect Park in Brooklyn this past Saturday after being cooped up in our apartment for 36 days since we started following the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19. It wasn’t the first time we stepped outside, of course. We had been taking daily walks in our neighborhood and gone to the supermarket numerous times. But going to Prospect Park was our first venture “out into the world” since the pandemic started. I was craving some form of nature immersion and my partner had the brilliant idea to go to the park. We didn’t know what to expect. …


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Cactus flower blooming. Photo by author

I have been on a journey through my entire twenties and now through my early thirties to cultivate a profound understanding of the organizing principles of living systems in the hopes that I can interpret and apply them to what I’m passionate about — the design of regenerative and socially just organizations and communities.

I am not the first to apply ecological principles to social systems. Peter Senge developed his infamous systems thinking approach to organizational learning. Joanna Macy crafted her Deep Ecology philosophy for personal and societal transformation rooted in ecology, systems theory, and Buddhism. Margaret Wheatley developed her vision for a new form of leadership inspired by living systems theory. More recently, adrienne maree brown birthed a growing consciousness of the emergent behavior of complex systems. And of course, indigenous cultures all around the world have held the sacred intelligence of nature for millennia. …

About

Daniel Lim

Regenerative Leadership & Social Justice Facilitator | Writer | Artist | Based in NYC

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