Digging the Roots, Being with Messiness

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By HeatherAsh Amara

On being a White person supporting Black and Brown and Indigenous people, part 1

Watch the video version here


I know these are extra confusing times for many of you. A pandemic on top of heinous police brutality and protests along with whatever else you are already dealing with in your life; what is happening to our world? 

It’s time to  dig out the roots rather than trying to make everything look better on the surface.

 Have you ever tried to eradicate Bermuda grass from your garden?

Bermuda grass is tenacious. You can pull up the surface grass and much of the roots and it appears all is well; you’ve eradicated the problem. But unfazed by your hard work the long roots under the ground soon push up new growth.

The only way to truly remove Bermuda grass is to dig deep. You have to get messy. It is not enough to pull up what you see. It is what is invisible and hidden that is the source.

So often we want the fix to be easy; make it look better and all will be well. Then we are confused about why we are suddenly seeing so much manifestation of something we thought was done.

Have you ever had that experience in your own life? Can you remember a time when you thought you had dealt with something (your anger at your father, your sense of betrayal from a girlfriend, or your addiction to a substance) and suddenly you are face to face with it again?

We are currently facing this as a country in the United States of America and around the globe. The roots of racism never went away. They are deeply embedded. And those roots of discrimination have been smoldering underground for a long time.

If you are a Person of Color, you are most likely horrified, but not surprised, by George Floyd’s brutal death at the hands of a White police officer, and all the death of people of color, especially Black Americans, by police before him. Because you know all too well that the roots of racism are still alive and well and strangling People of Color with both obvious hate and discrete but damaging discrimination.

If you are a White person you may be really struggling right now to understand what is happening. This might seem like an isolated case, a horrible situation that was a mistake or the result of a “bad” cop.

Or you may be a White person who feels and understands the injustice we are navigating and is struggling to figure out next steps with so much information and pain swirling around.

Whether you are feeling rage, guilt, fear, or confusion this is a time for sacred action

My team and I have compiled a list of resources for you on race and white supremacy, which we will keep adding to. Please feel free to share any other resources and we can add to this list.

I’m not saying I have the answers. I don’t. I’m dedicated to listening, and learning from Black leadership and anti-racist educators. And I invite you to do the same. It is time for us to question what we have learned, find our voices, and take mindful action.

The sacred action that is needed is to understand the roots so we can work together to weed out every last vestige of racism and white supremacy. This is not a one-time project, but an ongoing, messy, dedication to digging, exposing, and dissolving. It happens at both the individual and the collective level. We can’t truly heal without both inner work and outer action. 

Sometimes that action is protesting. Sometimes that action is educating yourself. Sometimes that action is resourcing and supporting others. Sometimes that action is stillness, rest, and reflection. But at times, it is hard work. Inner and outer transformation means taking risks and being uncomfortable.

Friends, I’m willing to be messy with you. I’m willing to have the hard conversations. Let’s dig together. And while we dig we must also celebrate, laugh, look deep into each other’s eyes, smile. We must forgive ourselves for our shortcomings. We must get quiet and listen to spirit and trust that voice. We are all being stretched at this time. Let’s trust that we can take all this complexity and chaos and make beauty with it.

But let’s not expect to be done with it and move on. THIS is the work of freedom. The mess, the self-examination, the crumbing of old structures so the new may emerge. Don’t get bogged down in hatred or fear or confusion. Keep dancing, dear ones

Underlying the invasive roots of racism lies an entire natural network of connection and love. Did you know that when you see a single mushroom pop up in the forest it is only the fruit of a much larger organism that lies beneath the surface? And through these fungal webs trees share resources and communicate with each other across miles.

 In these challenging times we are also seeing the manifestations of this underlying web of love. White people holding a line between police and Black protestors. People sending money for protestor bail bonds. My friend’s young Black son was shot with a rubber bullet by police during a peaceful protest, and he later told his mom that he felt nothing but love for the cop who shot him. There have been so many acts of grace, beauty, and power. Please look for them. They are mushrooming everywhere. They are not random blossoming, but portals to remind us to dive deeper beneath the storm into the web of love that is always there.

It is not enough to love. But love in action will change everything.

Here are ways to take action, and voices to listen to.