I Know I Can Do Better

Ciao Amica Mia,

I imagine that like me your heart feels heavy. Weighted down with sadness, anger and grief for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering.
My mind is trying to process all that has unfolded so far in the year 2020. While we’re still learning how to skillfully navigate re-entry into a pandemic world, our friends and neighbors have lost jobs, homes and loved ones.
When I began writing “Sacred Sunday” my intention was to inform, inspire, teach, guide and evoke a response. What I’ve learned is, that at times I might even downright provoke you.
Due to the systemic violence and prejudice that our nation is built upon, lives have been unjustly snuffed out. And in many cases without a second thought.
One way in which I’m committed to provoking my own self into action, and hopefully you too, is by acknowledging my bias. If you’ve been following me, you already know that I’m all about owning your crap. For how else is change possible? How else are we to make personal and universal shifts without self-accountability and authorship?
The current state of affairs is not the legacy I choose to leave to future generations.

What I know is that if I continually ask you to look radically honest into the mirror of your heart, then I must do the same. So, today I share with you a personal story as a baby step in searching deep within my own B.S Limiters.
When I was eleven years old my mom began working with my dad in his hair salon business. The longest and most challenging days for my folks were Friday and Saturday. Consequently, my mom hired Katie to keep an eye out for her rambunctious four kids.

(You can learn more about our shenanigans in my book, The Breakaway Girl: Secrets of a Tantric Yogi.)

Katie was a black woman who rode four buses from the South Side of Chicago to our home near the western suburb of Elmwood Park. Despite humid summer heat waves and the inevitable frigid snowstorm, Katie rarely missed a day. She’d arrive on Friday mornings, stay overnight in the den, where my mom made up a bed for her, and return home on Saturday evenings. 
Katie slept in our house, cooked our meals, cleaned our dirty faces and held us close when we scraped our knees or fought with one another. On Friday nights, before my mom and dad came home from work, I’d pretend to be a hair stylist and set Katie’s hair in sponge rollers, while bombarding her with personal questions about her life outside of our four walls.
After three years the commute became too much for Katie and in her vernacular expressed to my mom one day, “I can’t take the backus and forthus anymore.” My brothers and I were heartbroken. We loved Katie. She was family.

But here’s the rub. This is what I want you to know.

One Sunday afternoon we were invited to Katie’s home to meet her family and join them for supper. My older brother and I drove with our folks to Katie’s home – in a car, not four buses, and still it took over an hour.
When I opened the door and stepped out of the car on this warm spring day, I gazed along the street to see families sitting on the front porches of small neat brick bungalows. I never felt so white and I never felt so scared.
Why? Why was I frightened? And where in the hell did that fear come from?
Katie opened the front door to her home smiling and greeted us with a hug. We sat at a large oval wooden dining table covered in a cream-colored lace tablecloth laden with her favorite foods. Yes, crispy fried chicken like only she could make, mashed potatoes, green beans and biscuits smothered in butter. And special for my dad, apple pie and ice cream for dessert.
I remember looking around the table, Katie clearly the matriarch of the family, as kids laughed, food passed in pretty bowls from one hand to another and thinking, they’re just like us. They’re a family who love one another, go to church on Sunday and sit together for a mid-day meal.
Here’s the issue… why would I think differently? I don’t remember learning anything other from my parents. While clearly not the same as racial prejudice, my mom and dad witnessed bias through the disparagement of my Southern Italian immigrant grandparents and extended family.
None the less, racism in this country is a systemic problem that can no longer be ignored. It is a fact. One we must face head on.
We need to own our history, both personally and as a nation.
We need to take several deep centering breaths and own our shit.
Plain and simple. Then each of us needs to ask the question, what can I do? What is one simple action that I can take today to help tell the truth? For change cannot come without accountability.

  • Only then will we be able to take a step towards healing our ancestral wounds.
  • Only then will we be able to no longer allow fear to be the driver of our emotions.
  • Only then will we be able to treat our neighbor as we so desire to be treated.
  • Only then will we be able to let love lead instead of ignorance.

In order to engage in intelligent conversation and civil discourse we need to first be open to listening. Then educating our selves.  

  • Only then will we be able to step onto the path of compassionate reparation.

I want to do better. I know I can be better.
The links below were recommendations. I found the articles and YouTube video eye-opening and informative. I hope for you as well.

xoxo, Paulette


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