As more and more people join the liberation movement to end racism, if you have been here a while, join us in finding ways to answer the questions that come directly from the heart.
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge the Cowlitz, Columbia, Grand Ronde, and Siletz people as the stewards of the area where I live and thank them for their leadership. I also want to acknowledge the people who have cultivated me. I would not be here without my family – by birth and by love – and the wisdom and leadership of Jomo Greenidge, who transitioned to ancestor in December 2020, as well as countless people who have challenged, strengthened, guided, invited, and loved me to a more whole version of myself. I honor you all.
I love visiting the Oregon coast in December.
It’s a significant time of the year for me. December 2016 was when I began hosting spaces for white people to talk about race, and December 2020 is when my partner, Jomo Greenidge, transitioned to ancestor, sending me heart-first into a big cavern of pain to heal.
Both of these moments have completely changed me.
Returning to the coast is always an opportunity to keep grieving and to imagine what’s possible for the season ahead. One particular morning, I hiked up to God’s Thumb, which begins by climbing straight up for what feels like f o r e v e r.
It’s probably something embarrassing, like 1/2 of a mile, but my legs were burning, and my heart nearly pounded its way out of my chest. When I can imagine the kinds of vistas that await me if I stick with it is usually all it takes to get me past the momentary struggle.
This photo is from that day at the tip of the earth.
But to get there, it required what I’ll affectionately call the “hill of near demise”, followed by valleys and a few more peaks, and the determination to keep going even as the path became a tightrope on a ridgeline where one wrong step in either direction would have been very bad.
I sat at the top for a while.
Watched the waves. The lizards eating lunch. The sun climbing to its own peak in the sky.
And then it was time to travel down. Only the return journey is rarely straight down. Those valleys that brought reprieve coming up, were now hills to climb as I traveled the other direction. And every single person I met on the path once I was coming down the “hill of near demise” asked me…
“Is it worth it?”
I couldn’t help but connect this to the journey we are on to end racism.
At the beginning of our journey, it’s a steep climb that’s often super disorienting, confusing, and maddening to realize how disillusioned we’ve been for so long. It’s also painful to realize, for the first time, the amount of harm our obliviousness has caused.
I was struck by the truth this hike represented. If all of the white people who’ve climbed the “hill of near demise” stay up on the mountaintop, we’ll never be able to answer the cry, “Is it worth it?”. I believe we need to be ready with an answer and position ourselves in the very places where this question is being asked.
Today, I have the honor of journeying with lots of people who are in various places of the liberation journey, and I’m committed to keep returning from the mountaintop to find those who need reassurance.
“It’s definitely worth it, and you’re on the hardest part of the climb…keep going…I’m with you.”
We need each other if we have any hope of a more just future.
We all must return to the bottom of the hill to point up and ask, “Will you come with me on a journey?” And vulnerably ask those who’ve traveled this way before us, “Is it worth it?” when we feel exhausted, sad, or scared that we won’t make it.
It is such an honor to journey with people who are all trying to be good neighbors because it’s a journey that’s worth it.
I’m so glad you’re here.
no one gets here alone, and I am no different
The brilliant beings who have contributed to these ideas are Jomo Greenidge; lizards, whales, birds, and waves I would have never been able to enjoy if I’d given up; fellow hikers with an encouraging word to offer; Judy Adams; Malaika Thompson and J; Deborah Greenidge; Jody Rutherford; Jess Thompson; Molly Kennedy; and countless more.