This weekend I harvested the shoots from the microgreens that I planted three weeks ago; tiny seeds sown in a windowsill garden when George Floyd could still breathe.
I was more patient with these greens than is typical for me, waiting until the first true leaves unfurled before I snipped the tender white and purple and pale green shoots into a pile to serve at lunch. A lunch eaten while the world reels.
This past week has been hard and messy and heartbreaking. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, has magnified the larger crisis of police brutality, racism, and inequity in this country and the world. For some folks, this has been the very first week of their awakening. For many more, the fight against these unjust systems is woven into the fabric of their everyday lives, inextricable and impossible to ignore.
Protestors are taking to the streets, shouting Black Lives Matters and calling for abolition and police reform while statues celebrating enslavers are being rightfully dismantled and tossed to the sea. Across countries and continents, folks are acknowledging the suffering caused by the historic and continued subjugation of Black people by a system that harms everyone in its path and Black people in particular. Publicly and privately people are grappling with how to undo the damage wreaked by the lie of white supremacy.
Several years ago I began in earnest to have this site more clearly reflect my private efforts to lead an actively anti-racist life. The efforts on this site, as in my personal life, have sometimes been clumsy. I have often not done enough. I have gotten things wrong. I will be redoubling my efforts, continuing my own personal education and unlearning and doing my best to thoughtfully integrate that work here.
This past week, in an effort to force myself away from my phone and to calm my mind amidst the ever-present buzz of police helicopters, I’ve been reading poetry before bed. Last night, I pulled Camille Dungy’s anthology of poetry, Black Nature, from the shelf. It’s a heavy book, even in paperback, and when I let it fall open, the spine creased in a new place, as if deliberately guiding me to Frank X Walker’s poem, “Homeopathic.” The poem is exquisite and heartrending in its entirety, but I’ll leave you with just an excerpt here:
The unripe cherry tomatoes, miniature red chili peppers
and small burst of sweet basil and sage in the urban garden
just outside the window on our third floor fire escape
might not yield more than seasoning for a single meal
or two, but it works wonders as a natural analgesic
and a way past the monotony of bricks and concrete,
the hum of the neighbor’s TV…
…Enjoying our own fruit, we let the juice run down our chins,
leaving a trail of tiny seeds to harvest on hungry days like these.
To my Black friends and readers, I hope you are able to find moments of rest and peace and tiny seeds to harvest this week. To folks like me, who continue to benefit from the lie of white supremacy, may we be integral in its dismantling. This is our imperative.
For the curious:
+ If you’re looking to hear more from Black folks on the subject of farming and food growing, this interview with founders of Black Minimalists, Kenya Cummings, Farai Harreld, and Yolanda Acree is one place to start. (Yolanda’s excellent book Mindful Simplicity came out this winter.)
+ The theme for this month’s efforts at Sustainable Brooklyn is “WTF is Going On With Agriculture.” On Friday, June 12, from 7-8 pm, they’ll be hosting a live webinar covering “land history, current food systems, and what individuals and communities can do ASAP as we activate regenerative and restorative micro and macro solutions particularly in BIPOC communities.” RSVP to reserve a spot.
+ My ceramic tray was made by Tracie Hervy and was a gift from Bloomist.
This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.
Thank you for using your blog and Instagram to educate, to help me learn. I noticed, many months ago, that you seemed to write more often about white privilege. I didn’t pay very close attention because I didn’t feel I was racist and often those resources seemed NY-specific. Within the past two weeks, when the list of common, everyday activities coupled with the names of Black Americans who have been murdered, injured, and arrested for doing them, was posted time and again, I finally got it. I understood MY white privilege. I have never considered myself to be racist, but neither have I been actively anti-racist. So I’ve begun. To listen, to learn, to educate myself, and, hopefully to be a true ally. Thank you for your willingness to be part of that education.
Thank you for this. <3
Beautifully written. Thank you.
Thanks Erin. Always an inspiration. I am so grateful for your words and direction.
We live in very polarising times. I think it helps to recognise this. It’s possible to be a Hindu and Buddhist and have racist mental habits, even though these yoga based systems of thought are at heart profoundly anti-racist. I think of racism as a contraction of human nature. An unwillingness to engage with our humanity and immediate reality. Yoga helps to strengthen the body-mind so that it has less fear and in very practical, embodied ways. I have a lot of hope for yoga.
Hi there: Thanks for engaging and bringing this up. Spiritual bypassing in the yoga community in particular, but also in spirituality generally, is often brought up as an issue of real concern as it relates to anti-racism. Many anti-bias and anti-racism educators note that difficult and painful conversations about race and inequity can often get stalled by the professed higher morality of spiritual practitioners. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I think it’s something worth exploring as we all examine our bias and complicity in a racist world.
Hi Erin, you’re welcome. It took a bit of thought to articulate the above to try to avoid bypassing the issue of racism but at the same time to look at yoga as a direct way to assist in reducing racism because I believe that it can do this very well making use of our shared embodied natures engaging in physical practices. This is a grounded response and commitment.
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