There are very few of us who will be sorry to say goodbye to 2020.
Most of the words that will describe this year will likely be pretty harsh. “Tragedy”, “loss”, “disease”, “reckoning”, and “isolation” name just a few of the most dominant words that pepper our news and collective experience. Another word that comes to mind for 2020 is “exposure.”
The rotten moorings of our country’s systems have been laid bare and they are only possible to miss if hiding inside conspiracy theories or the twisted propaganda of Fox News. Frankly, people have had to generate “alternative facts” in order to escape the glaring harms perpetuated by our broken healthcare system, our racist justice system, unfettered capitalism and the pervasive racism baked into our electoral system.
With the gaslighting, false equivalencies and blatant lies so pervasive in our national narrative, it becomes even more pressing for each of us committed to liberation to cultivate clarity and discernment. We must become more skilled at clear seeing.
Inclusive Life’s dear friend Lindsay Pera, in her new book The Mystic Path, writes about the importance of tracking. She writes, “There is great power in looking closely. Whatever you choose to look at, where you put your attention causes the object of that attention to grow. When you consistently show up to watch, even the most mysterious of phenomena begin to reveal themselves. This is why tracking, or the practice of consistent, deep inspection is such a powerful teacher.”
She continues, “Whatever the method…it enables you to connect with what is real, right now. It can help you to break free from feeling trapped in old patterns.”
As a community of people devoted to building a world of inclusion and belonging, we as members of the Inclusive Life community must become skilled “trackers.” We cannot change anything without deep reflection and awareness of the patterns that perpetuate suffering.
The COVID Pandemic
The word “exposed” takes on a very particular meaning when it comes to the COVID 19 pandemic. We’ve had to avoid exposure to the virus, forcing us into an ongoing state of uncertainty and isolation. COVID has exposed the essentialness of our essential workers, as well as their lack of protections. And while we’ve been so reliant on our health care workers, COVID has exposed more glaringly our health care system itself as inadequate and inhumane. It is painful and traumatic that still, Black Brown and Indigenous Americans bear the physical and economic brunt of our country’s racist systems.
The Pandemic of Racism
With so much of the country required to stay home and work from home, COVID created enough stillness for the reality of police brutality and anti-black racism to shake the collective out of its somnolence.The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor propelled floods of people of all races into the streets to protest. Students of Color called out their teachers, employees exposed their racist work environments and people previously complacent engaged and demanded change at the local, state and federal levels.
While we are breathing a collective sigh of relief at the U.S. Presidential Election results and will work persistently for the most progressive appointments and agenda, this election cycle more fully exposed the deliberate disenfranchisement of Voters of Color, through all means possible.
2020 and the Growth of an Ecosystem of Justice
If we are tracking 2020 carefully and accurately, we cannot help but track what is emerging. What is most notable is the emergence of people of all ages, all identities and skills who have stepped up and stepped into this chaos to bend the arc of the moral universe.
The protestors who fought in the streets for justice while wearing masks, the scientists and healthcare workers who are vigilantly fighting for our collective health despite the abuse they’re enduring. The journalists and storytellers who continue to chronicle this era despite being villainized. The Black women who have done the deep organizing, motivating and strategizing to pull off a victory for President-Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris, only to dive back in for the Georgia Senate run-off elections.
To create a strong ecosystem of justice, we need everyone showing up in their own unique capacities. We need the storytellers, the website builders, the healers, the visionaries, the policy writers, the protestors. We all have something to bring.
Inclusive Life in 2020
The Inclusive Life community is helping to empower people to identify their areas of influence.
Inclusive Life has been growing since 2019, and as the race uprisings (and later the fires) were blazing, and as the inequities of COVID were becoming more apparent, it was gratifying and comforting to be in community with people who already were focusing on inclusion and equity. In community, we’d already been building skills to disrupt white supremacy culture in the relationships we were forming, and in our workplaces, industries and families.
As Black Lives Matter banners popped up in people’s front yards and businesses across the country, as a community we already knew the difference between performative and aligned action.
This was not a point of pride in our community, but more a sense of preparedness as our country spun further into chaos and polarization. Despite the despair and fear, we held steady as best we could by staying in accountable relationship, deepening our skills of analysis and aligned action, and showing up imperfectly.
Inclusive Life welcomed in so many new people, doubling the size of our community. We moved our powerful Inclusive Life Accelerator retreat from its planned venue in Oakland to an online space, learning from thought leaders in the areas of politics, spirituality, economics, and climate change.
Late in the year, we added resources like the Inclusive Life with Nicole Lee Podcast, and Nicole’s new book Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations About Race and Parenting, with a virtual course to support focused and deeper change.
For the next few weeks, we will be steeping ourselves in reflection and analysis, that kind of tracking required to move out of this place of crisis and deep fissure.
As a community, we are already building our future together.
Our hopes for 2021 is that we will not bandaid over the pandemics that are still impacting the US and the rest of the world, but soberly assess the state of our union. To rush to rebuild when the moorings of our country are still crumbling from dry rot would be foolish and dangerous. We need to be bold and tireless in our excavation.
In addition, rather than easing up now that we have a new administration ready to take office, we must see our liberation work as even more pressing.
As a community, our intention for 2021 is that we 1) work and fight for justice; 2) have each others’ backs as we do the work; 3) cultivate joy and 4) remind each other that even when there’s so much work to be done, rest is a sacred act.