Last week The Genki Spark held a Skill Share for members on how to be an ally. With PRIDE just around the corner, this space was a perfect opportunity for a member to facilitate an activity, training, lesson on something they are passionate, knowledgeable, or strong in. I led this Skill Share as being an ally is something that I care a lot about, and work very hard to aspire to be.
Those of us at the Skill Share reflected on how privilege and oppression affect our daily lives. We also discussed traits of a good ally and a not so good ally. Here’s what we came up with. What do you think makes a good ally?
We also completed two phrases to show how we feel about allies to us and how we can be allies to others. Why do you think allies are important?
In honor of May being Asian Heritage Month, I thought I would share one way in which The Genki Spark honors our heritages. For those of you that missed our Making Women’s History Event back in March, or you were so inspired and excited about it and can’t wait until next year’s event…here’s an “encore” of one of our new pieces debuted that weekend, “Honoring Past, Present, and Future.”
Below you will find the speaking parts of the piece and a video of our performance. We at The Genki Spark honor and celebrate those that came before us as we continue their work for a happier, healthier, genki-er world. We are excited for our future and the future we are creating for those yet to come.
Today we reflect on the experiences of our ancestors. As immigrants and minorities, the generations before us faced many challenges. Their stories of sacrifice and struggle include:
Having to change their names because they were “too hard to pronounce.”
Being forced to “speak good English,” abandoning the languages their families had spoken for generations.
Being denied jobs or access to education.
Working endlessly under exploitative conditions, building railroads, cleaning houses, picking crops.
Forfeiting their professions or dreams in order to provide a better life for their families.
Facing the burden of proving loyalty to a country that was at war with the homeland of their ancestors.
Being expected to keep quiet and endure indignities because they were women.
Being harassed or beaten for their skin color, race, religion, who they fell in love with.
Despite all this, the generations before us not only endured, they excelled. Their pride, strength, and courage enabled them to continue despite a society that tried to keep them down. They demonstrated resistance through organizing or simply trying their best to persevere day after day. Let’s honor the legacies of the men and especially the women who continue to inspire us.
Today we envision the future. The future we want to leave for our children, grandchildren and generations to come. A future that honors those who have come before us.
What is this future we see?
A future that is just, equitable; where there is equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, race or religion.
A future that provides places where each of us can flourish, celebrating our unique strengths and talents; including opportunity for any girl who dreams of being president to do so!
A future where the media portrays women & girls for their strengths, skill and ability, not their hairstyles, bodies or sexuality.
A future where we fight through numbness and dumbing down to act with courage and conviction.
A future where women and girls leave competition and judgment aside to fully support each other.
A future where in the presence of strong women and girls men and boys find their strength and compassion
A future where we ALL listen to the needs and experiences of one another to empower healing, liberation, and positive change.
A future where each of us contributes to a healthy, sustainable planet,
A future where we live lives of hope, love and peace.
How can we create this future and carry on the legacy that has been given to us? What can we do to create this future?
Today, we are in the present. The history of our past and the progression of our future, meets today, right now. Because we are interconnected.
This is our time. What are we going to do now?
The efforts of our past have contributed to progress. Today we still take on challenges including inequity, discrimination, and other forms of injustice. Every moment is an opportunity for positive change. Everything we do, what we say, every interaction, is important because what we put into the world, is a ripple effect that leads to what will come.
Because we are interconnected.
What are the choices you’re making now? When you do something or say something, are you thinking about the impact? How it might make the other person feel? How it might impact our communities? How it impacts the world? What we put out, even the little moments, matter.
What we do now is going to not only impact us, but will be what we pass on to our children, and our children’s children, which will continue to be passed on to future generations.
We invite you to join us, in spreading respect and peace in the world, with fierceness, so that our positive vibrations will spread and heal our communities and world.
I’ve been busy running Project Bethlehem at Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence, MA www.lazarushouse.org . This program serves 400 plus families in one of the poorest cities in MA by providing them Christmas gifts. Generous, caring donors from the area “adopt” these families, shop for them according to their Wish List and deliver wrapped gifts. We notify the families and they come to pick up the gifts.
In the midst of greeting our generous donors at the door, moving tons (literally) of packages and sending recipients off with huge smiles and grateful hearts, we learned of the tragedy in Newtown, CT: 18 children between the ages of 5 and 10 and 9 adults dead in an elementary school shooting. The 20 year old gunman killed his mother, went on this rampage, then killed himself.
I am baffled by what the human heart and mind is capable of: selfless generosity of literally hundreds of people who have responded with deep caring to the needs of families who are poor and the brutal killing of innocent children and adults by a single young man. I’m struggling to make sense of the extreme counterpoints these events reflect, a difficult task.
Why do these extremes exist? Why do so many people live without heat or in hotels because they lost their homes or struggle to provide for their children? Why are there homeless children-going to school with no coats, living in cars or couch surfing, or if they are lucky live in a shelter? Why do 4 million children work in sweatshops in India till they grow up or die? Why do men kill their classmates, kill their coworkers, kill innocent children or kill the “enemy?”
Why do people buy gifts for a family they will never know? Engage their friends, family and coworkers to do the same? Take time to provide a special something for a child who will never know them? What motivates a young child to raise thousands of dollars for a cause? Why do people work tirelessly to make the world a better place for their neighbors or for people they’ll never meet?
How can we care so deeply that it hurts and not care at all about the impact we have on others?
It is in the human heart to love deeply. It is also in the human heart to kill. We don’t have to physically kill, we can kill our own or another’s spirit with a glare, meanness, a dismissal. So, as we approach the darkest days of the year here in the Northern hemisphere and the beginning of the slow return to light may we use the upcoming Holidays as a time to ponder what motivates us, what we are capable of and take honest stock of all of it – the good, the bad, the ugly, the sublime.
And perhaps, as we shed light on our inner motivations and inventory all that lives in us we will give another human being the courage to do the same. And maybe, just maybe, our collective action to be honest about what lives in our hearts will pour compassion into a world in dire need of it right now.
I wish you the peace that emanates from being in integrity with who you truly are.
Questions to Ponder:
How do you experience love? What action do you take from love?
How do you experience hatred, anger, fear? What actions do you take from these emotions?
What if you saw that negative feelings are distortions of love? How would you treat yourself or others differently?
A week ago, on the eve of Election day, I was both nervous and excited for what the following day would bring. I had no idea how many amazing ‘firsts’ would be accomplished in this year’s elections. Let’s take a moment to recognize some of them:
WOMEN ARE GETTING IT DONE!!! Massachusetts elected Elizabeth Warren as their first female senator, and New Hampshire is the first state to have an all women delegation — Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, House Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, and Governor Maggie Hassan, who will be the only female Democratic governor in 2013.
ASIAN AMERICANS REPRESENT!!! The largest delegation of Asian-Americans will be representing the United States in Congress. This includes the first Asian-American woman elected into the the US Senate, Mazie Hirono representing Hawaii. Hawaii also elected Tulsi Gabbard as the first ever practicing Hindu to the US House of Representatives. Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth and New York’s Grace Meng are the first Asian Americans to represent their states in Congress.
HOORAY FOR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY!!! For the first time, voters approved Marriage Equality in Washington, Maine and Maryland. Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment rejecting marriage equality. The largest openly gay delegation was also elected to the House of Representatives, including California’s Mark Takano, who is the first openly gay person of color in the House. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin becomes the first openly gay senator, and let’s not forget that Barack Obama, the first sitting president to support marriage equality, was re-elected!
The government is beginning to reflect the population that they are representing, and these elections have made me more hopeful for the future of this country.