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Living in the Tension: The Quest for a Spiritualized Racial Justice
Spirituality and racial justice should go hand in hand. However, tensions often arise when people try to live out their values. These tensions are most visible when people value either spirituality or advocacy and fail to see their connection.
Spiritually-oriented people often say:
People focused on politics and social justice activism are angry, wounded, and unhealthy. They sabotage their own efforts by using antagonistic and divisive language, taking about oppression, privilege, and supremacy.
On the other hand, racial justice advocates often say:
People focused on their spirituality are trying to escape into a false “kumbaya” experience, They deny their role in institutional racism, privilege, and the reinforcement of an unjust status quo that operates through interlocking systems of oppression.
Why do these perceived tensions between spirituality and racial justice matter?
There is a vast potential of untapped transformative power waiting to be released if activists and spiritual people of various racial backgrounds build and strengthen bridges between their differing principles and expectations.
How can this book help?
Each chapter tackles one tension-filled theme and asks: What happens if one side of the tension is ignored? How can a both/and approach allow spirituality and racial justice efforts to support one another?
- Chapter 1: Transcendence and Race Consciousness
- Chapter 2: Self-Acceptance and Self-Improvement
- Chapter 3: Personal Healing and Political Action
- Chapter 4: Common Humanity and Group Differences
- Chapter 5: Belonging and Appropriation
- Chapter 6: Inner Truth and Accountability
An essay titled Grounding describes my life’s philosophical and spiritual foundation. Grounding is exceedingly personal, and it is something of a risk to publish it here. However, for those interested in my personal process, I offer it as a way to extend what I think is an essential conversation.
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See the full text of endorsements here.
“…explores the complex tension between spiritual practice and social action with thoughtfulness, nuance, and clarity.”
“…welcome conversation about how we can reawaken our deepest moral traditions to promote inclusion, equity, and address fundamental questions of belonging that embrace our diversity and complexity.”
“In these beautiful and wise pages, white allies who have long-labored for the dream of beloved community will find new approaches to the dilemmas that can stymie effective spiritual activism.”
“…asks social justice activists to dig more deeply into the personal motivations for our work and the spiritual community to be very clear about our need to be held accountable.”
“…deep inquiry into difference, sameness, spirituality and justice, which inform a quest into the nature of what it means to become fully human.”
“…insightfully expands the national dialogue on racial justice and is a must read for anyone committed to contributing to the creation of a world that honors the dignity of all beings.”
“…invites us to dive deeply into the shadows of our American psyche, illuminating a path toward the kind of hard-won racial awareness that is so desperately needed in the world today. ….this soul-searching work flushes the deepest wounds of our culture, preparing them, and us, for closer examination, and, ultimately perhaps, healing.”
“… an example of an individual’s personal exploration journey and, should it be mirrored by those in major positions of leadership, we will have a chance to make a much needed change in the communities we live in and in the world at large.”
“… aimed at those engaged in social justice work, but it will resonate with anyone and everyone who wants to do the right thing in the world.”
read more endorsements here….
Book Reviews for Living in the Tension
- The Seattle Globalist, review by Laura Humpf, Founder of Satmato Yoga Therapy
- Lucky Altman Lynch, Former director of The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) – Los Angeles, Currently Training Director of The Kaleidoscope Institute
- Rev. Paula Harris, Episcopal parish priest, co-author Being White: Finding our Place in a Multiethnic World, blogs at www.beingwhite.org.
- Laura Humpf, Yoga Instructor, Rainier Beach Yoga, Seattle, WA