A Compassionately Creative Guide To Doing Your Shadow Work Around Internalized Racism

by | May 31, 2020 | Articles | 0 comments

Greetings my beloved wild hearted creators,

My creative mission this lifetime is devoting myself to the process of engaging in ongoing inner psychological, emotional and spiritual healing work.  And the core of that work is a commitment to facing my unconscious patterns which include my ancient trauma wounds, my inner critic, my limiting beliefs, my allegiance to the patriarchy, my resistance to necessary change and any way that I am still unwilling to be fully in my power by opening my heart to love and my mind to the truth.

When people come to work with me in the role of client, mentee or student I also both support and challenge them to do the same.

And there is a huge piece of inner work that, particularly as white people, we need to take on and deal with. And that is the work of addressing and healing our own racism. 

These past couple of weeks have been a particulary virulent nightmare in the ongoing nightmare of racism that is black people’s daily experience. And if you are a black person or POC reading this my heart is breaking for you and your beloveds.  I join you in grieving and outrage over the horrfyingly senseless and racially motivated deaths of George Floyd, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others. I hold you with so much love and pray that you are able to get the care, comfort and solace that you need right now and always.

If you are a white person I invite you to take this pivotal moment in time to choose to do the inner work of facing your own internalized racism and your unconscious participation in a system that perpetuates and feeds off of demonizing, oppressing, terrorizing and murdering black people and other people of color. 

That work starts with simply admitting that there is no way that you can be part of this culture and not be racist. It’s baked into the system and is just a fact of life. And no matter how much work you might already have done, there is always more to do. It’s an ongoing and never ending process that requires diligence and commitment. 

Your racism is not personal to you and has nothing to do with how you might feel about or treat black people as individuals. You may be white and married to a black person or have black friends or co-workers. But you still need to educate yourself around the SYSTEM of racism and be curious about all the ways you continue to support this racist system through ignorance, fear, complacency and not educating yourself about the history of white supremacy and the reality of white fragility. 

One of the things I hear a lot is white folks feeling helpless and powerless around this issue and not knowing what to do. 

But every black person I have talked to or learned from asks from us these five things:

1.) Take responsibility for yourself by doing your own inner work around racism.  Don’t ask black people to do that emotional labor for you. That means unpacking your unconscious biases and beliefs around black people and the system itself, and telling the truth about your racist attitudes and behaviours. Be willing to dismantle your defenses and be vulnerable when you see things in yourself that activate your guilt and shame. Be compassionate with yourself but continue to do the work. 

2.) Listen to black people and believe them when they tell you about their experiences. Ask them what they want and need and don’t make assumptions about what YOU think they want and need. They are not at all interested in white people saving them.

3.) Do the work of confronting and educating other white people. Speak up when you witness racist behaviors, attitudes and languge.  Be willing to be uncomfortable and to risk other white people getting mad at you, judging you or not liking you for speaking up. 

4.) Make space for yourself to be a beginner, to learn, to fuck up and not hide behind expecting yourself to be perfect when doing this anti-racist work. 

5.) Allow yourself to FEEL ALL THE THINGS! You can’t heal your internalized racism through thinking alone. Racism is horrifying and painful. Confronting it in yourself means that you will feel a lot of bad feelings like grief, rage, helplessness, shame, guilt, powerlessness, overwhelm, and fear. You can’t heal what you won’t feel. And you can’t truly open your heart and empathize with your black brothers and sisters and yourself as a recovering racist without being brought to your knees emotionally. 

Confronting racism means confronting our deeply buried cultural shadow material that includes white supremacy, colonizer mentality and the monolith of the patriarchy. Basically everything that this culture is built on. It means being willing to examine these systems so that we can dismantle them and make way for a new world based on justice, respect and  love for all people everywhere.

I know we can do this. I have a powerful faith in all of us creatives to face our own shadows with courage, compassion and conscious awareness. And of course, one of the ways we can do this powerful exploration and healing process, as always, is through writing, making art and engaging with the magic of our creative process.

And if you need some help getting started or going deeper I’ve listed some resources below.

From my wild heart to yours,



So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo


Leesa Renee Hall

Desiree Adaway


That’s Not How That Works with Louiza Doran and Trudi Lebron



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