This conversation with Rachel Ricketts, author of Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy, has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: You advocate using spiritual activism—through inner work on ourselves—to fight and heal from racism. Are you saying white people need to heal from this as well?
This is grief and trauma work for everybody, including white women. That’s why I wrote this book to white women. This is daily active ongoing work through speech and action and it begins with the inner work of journeying within.
Q: We are living in a time of so many big, serious issues, many of them affecting women and, ever more so, women of color. How do we regenerate ourselves – and keep a focus on racial equity amid all the competing issues?
This is what spiritual activism is about: how we sustain ourselves. I have a webinar called Radical Hope. It’s based in spiritual activism but it’s explicitly about how we keep going.
I think it is important to understand that so many people in marginalized communities have been facing extinction physically or emotionally for hundreds of years. My ancestors were enslaved not very long ago. If they hadn’t continued to find hope, joy, resilience, left however they could, I wouldn’t be here.
I read something a while ago that said the term barrel of laughs is apparently derived from enslaved people who had to laugh enter into a barrel so they wouldn’t be heard. It’s deeply disturbing and violent and awful but at least they laughed. They figured out how to laugh. They found ways to survive to remind themselves that they’re human.
That’s what we need to be doing well and need to understand the work is never ending. People from marginalized identities have been facing these threats their entire lives and have a lot of knowledge and expertise and wisdom to share
Q: Finally, what is one suggestion you would leave our community with for how they can be a part of advancing racial equity in the workplace?
There isn’t one thing. There are many. I lay them out in my book. But if I had to share one thing, it is to hold yourself and others accountable.
Rachel Ricketts is the author of Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy.