I can’t stand a “love, light and peace” type of person.
You’ll see them in your own comments section after detailing an exhausting day that you’ve had or a tough situation that you’ve been dealing with and are trying to find a resolution for.
“Just think positive,” they’ll say. Maybe they’ll pose a question – “have you tried yoga?”
I can’t stand a “love, light and peace” type of person. But especially when it comes to issues regarding race.
A black man, who is devastated, posts about yet another murder by the police and the overall system of oppression that continues to allow this to happen.
They’re met by white people who tell them to “continue to be a positive person,” “It’ll get better” and “I don’t really get into social justice work, there’s too much bad stuff. You should try to avoid it too, you’d feel better.”
A black woman, facing discrimination at work, who is fed up and seeking help makes a staus.
“Have you tried ignoring the negativity?”
“There’s always a silver lining in any situation, you just have to look for it,” some of her white co-workers say.
A white guy lets everyone on his friends’ list know that he no longer accepts or goes by the title “white.” In not doing so, he seems to think that he will no longer contribute to and benefit from his privilege. “It’s all about your attitude,” right?
Just last week, I read a post about the incredible Biddy Mason, an escaped slave turned real estate mogul and philanthropist, and came across this comment from an older white woman:
“Good can so many times come out of bad. And although Biddy had a hard and cruel life in slavery, none of the good life she, and her family [had] would have been possible had she not gone through that terrible time. And neither would she have been able to do such an awesome amount of mission work. God had a plan for this gracious woman alright.”
Somehow, in reading about this fire ass (read amazing if you’re not with the lingo) black woman, this white woman decided that her fire-ness could only have been possible because of what she endured- that the horrific abuse, torture and humiliation she suffered was necessary. And regardless of whether she meant this or not- it implies that her enslavement wasn’t all that bad because look what came out of it; the end justifies the means, no?
This act of dismissing ills, under the guise that having a positive attitude will magically fix the worlds (or someone else’s)problems, is Spiritual Bypassing in a nutshell. It is the refusal to acknowledge that a situation requires attention and action. It is a way for (mostly) white people to separate themselves from anything that makes them uncomfortable, a way to avoid sitting with the realities that they are a part of this…thing that makes them feel “icky.” It gives them the space to, and the backbone, to be dismissive of people’s lived experiences, but in a way that still makes them feel good about themselves. It allows them the opportunity to harm while putting forth the impression that they’re doing good work. It attempts to snuff out the well-justified anger and indignation others have. It frames all anger or any less than pleasant emotion as a hindrance and doesn’t realize the usefulness such emotions can have in these situations. It reinforces the “angry black woman trope.” Spiritual bypassing is gaslighting. Spiritual bypassing is tone policing.
Is there a time and a place when “positive vibes” is useful? Sure. But baby, this ain’t one of those times.
I can’t stand a “love, light and peace” type of person. But especially when it comes to issues regarding race. There is no amount of love and good vibes that will fix racism. Yoga and meditation can’t manifest the solutions for discrimination. And thinking positive won’t stop that racist cop from shooting your black friend.