Dear Fellow White People: Where Were You Standing?

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By Monika Denise

Recorded by author

When you read the history books,
where were you standing?
Did you see yourself sitting at white lunch counters,
with black Americans,
refusing to leave
soda running over your head?
Did you show up to the speeches,
fist raised in solidarity
as “I have a dream…” 
floated down your spine,
and when you heard
“..that one day this nation will rise up,
live out the true meaning of it’s creed 
that all men are created equal…” 
Did you envision that day has already come?
Did you march from Selma
and wave a sign for black rights,
while ripping one down reading
That’s where I stood,
in my rosy-mind’s eye
when learning “American History” 
from whites, to whites.
I was there–
a friend, an ally, an activist, 
believing under God
the rights for all people.

But today 
I stand as horror dawns,
rose turning to blood and black
truth sinking in my gut:
I did not march on Selma that day.
I stayed in my white neighborhood
watching with ignorant shock
as brutality of authority-laden-bodies
beat and killed the ones 
wanting to be treated as human.
I did not sit in at lunch counters
or go to speeches,
I shook my head with fearful chagrin 
as images of burning cities
made ash from my safety, politeness, purity, and rightness
that my whiteness
made me think was possible–
missing the fact
that for black Americans the burning has never stopped,
for our nation has not fully risen up.

Where will I have been
when I read the history books from today?
Did I get too overwhelmed, 
exploding social media
paralyzing my body
fingers in the ears 
hand over the eyes
huddled in my room?
Or did I head into the throng, 
screaming in the streets, a BLM sign in hand
Yet, at the end of the day,
did I still cling to the Economy
Public Safety, Land, and Authority
that I access 
it was all built from a system

ushering whites into power
by slamming the door 
on black-bodied personhood?
I can’t stand an ally making history 
while still living in an enslaving history:
O tell me how
without changing the structure
does a three-fifths person become equal
when their voice, wisdom, and knowing–
their rights–
were absent in the organizing,
when their sweat and blood
was extracted to build the system?

I take my glasses off 
the blinding sun
cutting notches in my vision.
Perhaps racism is made too small
when limited to actions and thoughts.
At the core,
whose voice do we listen to when wondering,
“what matters most to black lives?”
Will I listen, 
when it means stripping away 
the how-its-been-dones
the most-efficients, 
the research-based?
My own feminine wounds throb
where ghost chains once bound,
structures denying and preventing
justice–served through community
leadership–shared through mutuality
bodies–trusted and respected
intuition–as weighty as logic…
but my scoured vision reveals now
I have protected the white patriarchy
in a long trip through dreamland
where black and brown bodies hurt
much more than my own.
For I needed safety
my fragile china body entrenched 
in my patriarchal place
While people of color
were never privileged with safety,
real or contrived.
I lament how slow my work:
nursing wounds, flushing debris,
wrapping layers of warm blankets
and drinking barrels of coffee
to keep the bleeding world at bay
before re-firing my vessel
marrying my own feminine strength
waking up in my own feminine body
opening my ears and today, finally
And hearing
And bleeding
And owning,
And changing.
And when looking back on the headlines of tomorrow,
let it be so, that after today, —
I did stand to create a world where

Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut


Monika Denise: I am being called into the deep of discovering and loving my inner feminine mystic, one who is deeply connected to the Holy One, human community, and more-than-human world. I have a background as a board-certified Art Therapist and Trauma Therapist, Mennonite, and nature lover. I am currently taking off a few years from living in the stream of society to internally transform the paradigms of power I grew up in. Through self-education, the creative arts, deepening into my relationship with Mother Earth, peer mentors, and education through an eco-ministry program and living in an intentional, inter-spiritual community, I am slowly nurturing my feminine power and stepping into a thriving-life paradigm for our world. From this place, I am open to where the Beloved Ma will teach me and use me in unbraiding and restoring the relationship between peoples and the more-than-human world through creativity and embodiment. Right now, I’m a student of my own body, Mother Earth, community, illuminating the systems I’ve been complicit in, and ultimately, the Beloved Ma in and through us all.

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