By Pooja Prema, Rites of Passage Project Founder & Artistic Director
As our collective rite of passage continues with the uprising of the Black Liberation movement, we at The Rites of Passage Project stand along with our 20 collaborating Black + African-Diaspora artists in affirming that #blacklivesmatter, and that another more just and beautiful world is possible.
We honor the lives of those who were recently killed by the ignorance of oppression - George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Aubrey - as well as the innumerable ancestors of Black folks in America.Thankfully, in these last weeks there has been an acceleration in consciousness for white and non-black folks to stand in solidarity with the #blacklivesmatter movement. Yet, white people have a much self and community educating to do before we can work together to truly able to dismantle white supremacy.
We must remember that the true movement is one by and for the People. As such, the movement isn't against people, but against life-alienating oppressive structures. If ALL lives are ever to truly matter, then we must have 100% dedication to dismantle the historical injustices that have been perpetuated under this country's Constitution - one which legitimized the erasure of Native peoples and lifeways, and the enslavement of African-Diaspora peoples with 1 enslaved person equaling three fifths of a white person, and under which Indigenous people, Black people, and all women were denied the right to vote or participate in public elections, in short denied the right to determine their own futures.
These times ask of us to cultivate20/20 Vision- clear sight - of our shared past and present; a wholistic look at how the "Dominator" Paradigm has been destroying our world. The institutionalized systems of oppression that we today call "white supremacy culture", "patriarchy", "capitalism", and "neo-colonialism", are not new. They are merely new titles for the Dominator Paradigm that has been in existence for at least the last 2,500+ years, around the globe.
At this time, scientists predict that we may have 10 to 15 years before total ecological and systems-wide collapse. This collapse has already been happening in places in the Global South + East. And now in the US, we have had our first glimpse of how little it takes to initiate a systems collapse. Those with privilege have simply chosen not to see - in the same way that white folks in the US have not chosen to truly acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression of black people, and their own comfort and complicit silence which make such oppression possible. Yet remedying this situation - ending white supremacy - will take a deep surrender of multiple privileges - because race privilege is interlocked with money, and access to resources such as education & healthcare, land, healthy food, clean air & water. While these things should be basic rights of all living beings, they have not been for a very long time. Its been so long, that most people are unable to question the interlocking systems of domination that are the very foundations of what constitute a "normal life". In a sense, we are each complicit in the destruction of our Earth, our ecosystems, and our futures through the Dominator Paradigm. We are each complicit in, and contributing to, systems that enslave human beings the world over, and "loot"/extract the abundance of our Earth, which is our shared and finite inheritance. The greatest grief is that so few of us have options to choose differently because of generational structural oppression.
In order to truly dismantle systems of oppression, I believe we need to do so both within and without - to DECOLONIZE from the INSIDE-OUT. This means that we also need a new - and yet more ancient - Paradigm of Partnership - as Riane Eisler writes of in her book Sacred Pleasure - one of mutual respect, care and interdependence. The way we tell the stories about our past will determine what future we create. And in order to truly create an equitable, resilient and regenerative future, we need equitable, resilient and regenerative stories.
At a time when so much of our understanding is still compartmentalized, Rites of Passage 20/20 Vision creates space for the intersection of multiple liberation movements "under one roof".By brining with us long-saves ancestral seeds of resilience, and songs, dances, grief and poems of strength, collectivity and eloquence. And even while the world continues to break, we are slowly and quietly, building this dream. The dream of a fertile house, and more so - the dream of a vibrant, verdant future for our children's children. We invite you to join us as an Ally.
As we continue forth in these heart-breaking times, let us remember that the collective fight for liberation has been being waged a long time, and is bigger than any one of us. When we feel impatient, or loose courage, let us humble ourselves and look to the wisdom of abolition and civil rights movements, Indigenous peoples movements, and the feminist movements, that have been at the fore-front of cultural and political Resistance, Awakening and Change-making for centuries. May we connect with the blossoming resistance outside that can help sustain our inner and collective journey toward freedom.