Just came across this gorgeous picture I took last summer, expansive, messy, beautiful ROOTS. In the woods at Betwy-s-Coed in North Wales.
It got me thinking, with all the outrage about Meghan Markle and the Royals, as well as my own personal journey that I’ve been on since diving into the world of online business, not to mention life in general with the all of the intense events, actions and tipping points of Black Lives Matter, Covid, disaster capitalism, the increasingly scary and now obvious effects of Climate Change and the rediscovery of community spirit etc. Edited to add: And now, here in the UK, Women are rising up in response to the tragic death of Sarah Everard at the hands of a man sworn to protect his community.
We associate the word Roots with a multitude of meanings: Stability, strength, growth, support, interconnectedness, entanglement, twisted, playful, emerging, uprooting, feeding, nurturing, Or the more human-centred meanings: culture, creed, background, childhood, ancestry, lineage, community, past, trauma, even sovereignty.
In short, my own roots are littered with colonialism and therefore the abuse associated with that power, as well as the beautiful intertwinings of cultures and communities that are defining moments of pride in our family…My mother was born in the West Indies and grew up in Ghana. She spent her time playing with animals, climbing trees, eating mangos and socialising with the children from the communities that surrounded her. My grandmother and great grandmother’s family grew up in India where the juxtaposition of female strength and resilience was shown by a woman running a tea plantation (mostly unheard of in those days), she was the first person to package tea in the most efficient way at that time, set against the imperialism associated with British domination across the world (Tea is a poignant representation of that “Britishness” for better or for worse), so many white people worldwide are now finally coming to terms with the implications of roots like these. And it’s not about feeling guilty, (although I find it difficult not to)… and I understand that it’s useless to do so without accompanying the guilt with tangible action. I was not there and had I been alive I wouldn’t have necessarily had the power or even consciousness to change anything. However, I can hold up a mirror, look back with a healthy sense of both criticism and pride at the contradictory elements of those roots and strive to make THIS world ever more compassionate and fair in a way that was perhaps impossible back then, before everyday individuals could really generate any kind of deep change in the way the internet, to some extent is allowing us to do today.
I still can’t help wondering WHY we as humans find it so difficult to accept, move on from, acknowledge or admit fault/liability or mistakes in our lives and behaviours, in our own Roots. Yes, we have built up centuries of stuck shame and pain, in our bodies, our communities and in our politics and beliefs. And the road to change is undoubtedly a long and hard one, but one of the most difficult parts of all this, and the part I struggle with most, is our collective inability to acknowledge and then try to change our mistaken beliefs, hurtful, offensive (or ruthless and oppressive) behaviours, rules or systemic beliefs. Why do we as a culture teach ‘politeness’: apologising, making good, forgiveness, when we are so often utterly unable to do any of those things except on an inauthentic superficial level.
The scores of women bravely marching in response to yet another confusing and horrifically violent attack on an innocent woman, by a policeman no less, has shown the strength and RAGE we need to keep demonstrating in response to a system that is overly defensive and perhaps too heavily mired in shame to accept its own failings when it comes to the prominent issues of our time: racism (personal and structural), sexism and violence against womxn, ableism, transphobia and the many other issues, phobias and ‘isms’ that we seem to find, as a collective, so difficult to rise above.
WHY is being called out as structurally racist seen as something to act defensive about, mock and deride (and then ignore and stick heads back into the sand) when we can so clearly see that these systems and behaviours are so fundamentally wrong? Going back to my first point – Why can’t the Monarchy here in the UK admit that yes, there are undoubtedly structures in place that have maintained the white supremacist views developed and nurtured over centuries, behaviours of a long-lived and powerful institution? And in turn say “Hey we’d like to do better!” Surely they would gain even more respect and admiration from the world if they could admit liability and move on, as some white folks (although not enough yet) are now finally starting to do through anti-racism work and the deep cleansing and addressing of our own roots: flawed, twisted, warts and all… And that’s exactly it, if individuals CAN start to take responsibility for the cultural shame in their own roots and pasts, when are institutions or powerful groups of people (e.g. men!!!) going to do the same? Or is it just fluffy and utopian to believe that we can actually learn from our mistakes and grow in compassion instead of stagnating and sentencing ourselves to inevitable death by violence and polarisation?
To bring it back around to the desperate events this past two weeks, where the positivity of International Women’s Day and then UK Mother’s Day came crashing down with the revelation that Sarah Everard was killed by a PoliceMAN and the frightening events at the demonstrations in the days that followed, where it seems the Police force in certain areas of the UK cannot help getting defensive and lashing out in an ironic and frankly bizarrely hypocritical display of (brutal not compassionate) collective power. When can we as a species, and men in particular as the group holding the most power, finally come together to accept that all this needs to stop and that we have the collective strength to move forward by listening, growing and taking bold action to change the status quo?
Tree roots change direction, find nourishment elsewhere, join and connect with others, take difficult, seemingly impossible pathways: how can we as humans help and support each other to do the same?
I fundamentally believe that We. Can. Change.
But ONLY if we take a good hard (collective) look at the roots of our most flawed and dangerous beliefs and then take (and continue to take) tangible actions in our lives to end the cycle of pain and violence that has littered those same roots for So. Damn. Long.
Phew! Another rant that I just had to get off my chest!! If any of this resonates, you agree, disagree, or just want to join in the conversation, and especially if you’d like to embark on your own Dancing journey exploring your own roots, behaviours and patterns, jump on a discovery call with me:
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Peace and Love
PS Ooh and here’s a great song about Roots (or No Roots to be precise) by Alice Merton: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=NsbvtLBEf74&feature=share. It’s going round in my brain writing this so I had to share! 🌳