White Supremacy and Pussy

Women For One is in the process of re-posting stories by some of our most influential Truthtellers. It would be remiss of us to not offer their more recent takes on some of the issues that we are facing on a national and global level, including the reckoning that we are experiencing around racial injustice. Here’s a piece by Regena “Mama Gena” Thomashauer that we appreciate for its transparency and vulnerability.

Five years ago, I led a weekend course at the Javits Center for about 2,000 women. I was nervous, I was excited, I was everything and then some. The second day, a woman in the second row asked me a question about the Black Lives Matter movement. And in my privilege, in my unconscious bigotry and racism, I responded with, “All lives matter.”

I could feel the thud in my heart. I knew I had f#cked up.

I could feel it. I could feel a sense of uneasiness in my body, I felt nauseated, disembodied, defensive. Pissed. Pissed at myself and angry at getting caught with my white ass in the breeze. Couldn’t everyone see how hard I was working to free women from the patriarchy? And what an impeccable and loving space I hold for Black women, except for this one tiny mistake? I chose not to say anything. My shame and guilt silenced me.

After the day was over, a member of my staff took me aside and gently but firmly tore me a new one. I heard her loud and clear. I enrolled myself and my team in our very first race training course given by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond called “Undoing Racism.”

In two days, I began to see the systemic racism in our country, our culture, our for-profit prison system, and the unconscious white privilege inside of myself.

That course was so powerful and the information so complex, that I took it again last year. I am trying to engage in a deep learning/unlearning of a lifetime of white privilege. There is so much for me to process that these two courses have not been enough, and so I continue to take classes and learn.

White supremacy teaches me to value things that I do not love.

It teaches me to disconnect from my body and my truth.
It teaches me to prioritize success over family.
It teaches me that my value is in how I look, or what I do.
It teaches me that I am more valuable than another human being who has black skin.
It teaches me to shame the immigrant in others, as well as in my lineage.

It teaches me to be unconscious of the societal structures that support police brutality and the mass incarceration of Black people.
It teaches me to check out when a white man leads.
It teaches me to turn off to the ways in which I am blind to my own bigotry.
It teaches me to turn off to the systemic racism in our world.

It teaches me to turn away, rather than turn towards.

It taught me to say “All lives matter” on a stage in front of 2,000 women.
It taught me to ignore the pain of my Black sisters.
It taught me to put my needs, as a leader, first, and not check in deeply with my Black sisters on how they are doing in this volatile climate.

It teaches me to turn away from the homeless person seeking acknowledgement and help. Turn away from the impact of climate change that I deepen with my daily actions and inactions. Turn off from my emotions.

No one had to teach me how to turn off. Our culture models it with actions so much louder than words.

I was taught to back away from my strong emotions – to find them embarrassing, ridiculous even. I was taught to keep a lid on anything and everything outrageous. To just turn it off. I learned to turn off my life force, turn off my feelings, turn off my sensuality, and as a consequence, turn off my power.

When we live in a world that cannot even comprehend its inherent bigotry – bigotry against Black communities, bigotry against indigenous communities, bigotry against women, bigotry against Trans folks, bigotry against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Questioning communities, bigotry against people with disabilities, among many other bigotries – and thus cannot step forward to honor or support those who have been devastated by it…what is the recourse? How do I stand up to an assault that was seemingly invisible to me for so long? How do I weather – let alone triumph over—such a global denial of my experience?

How do I locate a pathway to mend, strengthen, and remake myself in a world that does not recognize it is broken?

How do I stand for my Black sisters, with an open heart, mind, body, and soul?

And how do we, as women, reconsecrate our own holiness after it has been defiled, turned off, and ignored?

For me, right now, all of my attention and focus has been to turn on to my unconscious internal white supremacy and racism. To stop pretending it does not exist. And turning on, for me, means to grieve. To mourn. To rage. To feel all the feelings that I have not felt, to feel the pain of the impact of the actions I have taken, or not taken on behalf of my Black brothers and sisters. And to hold space for my community, my sisters, to grieve and mourn and rage with me. I feel so much despair, so much numb, so much overwhelm, so much grief, so much awkward. I feel filled with regret, I can’t find my footing, I can’t eat, I do not know what my voice is now.

Along with my individual learning—the reading, listening, self-educating—I am also using my own technology to find the missing pathway out of being another powerless, voiceless body. I am reconnecting to my pussy. Just as pussy is the source of all human life, pussy is the source of each woman’s connection to her own life force—it puts me in touch with my voice, and my sense of internal power. When I turn on my pussy, I am actually turning on my life force and connecting to my divinity.

I can never find my way out of my inherent racism by steeling myself to the pain.

I have to turn on to the pain. Turn on to my blind spots. Turn on to my discomfort. My confusion. Because turning off perpetuates systemic racism. Turning on to my feelings is the first step toward healing. I invite us to feel and turn on, together.

With so much love and pleasure,

Regena is a feminist icon, a teacher, a speaker, a mother, a best-selling author, and creatrix and CEO of The School of Womanly Arts.

Previously published here.

Regena Thomashauer

About the Author | Regena Thomashauer

Regena Thomashauer (a.k.a. “Mama Gena”) is a revolution: an icon, teacher, author, mother, and founder and CEO of the School of Womanly Arts, which began in her living room in 1998 and has since grown into a global movement. She believes that women are the greatest untapped natural resource on the planet, and she teaches them to turn on their innate feminine power to create a life they love.

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