We have just witnessed the New Moon and a solar eclipse on the solstice. This is a pattern breaking and shaping time. It also may be a time when a lot is coming up for you, there is a lot to process or rearrange.
We (Aisha and Mary Ann) founded the Red Tent Directory in 2012. We are both white women and what follows is a message about Black Life Matters and anti-racism which we particularly address to our white sisters. We know that Red Tent spaces welcome women who are Black and Indigenous People of Colour and so we offer this also to others reading as an indication of the work we know needs to be done in this community to address harm, be accountable and build anti-racist practice in the weeks, months and years to come.
All of this is also meant in the spirit of a sacred prayer for a future in which our grandchildren and their children can walk in a world in which skin colour no longer defines who you are. A world in which they are free.
At the time when we launched the Red Tent Directory, we envisioned women connecting in Red Tent spaces finding each other across the UK. Eight years later the Directory is global and we are in the midst of pandemic and powerful protests and actions across the world fuelled by the murder of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Tony McDade in Florida, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, George Floyd in Minnesota which are rooted in centuries of the genocide, slavery and colonisation.
And this time also finds us, as Founders of this project, in the middle of writing a book about Red Tents which will share some of the many voices of people who hold and attend Red Tents.
In it we will also make an impassioned call to you as holders of tents, as women with an interest in them, to consider how you can be part of creating a world that is just and equitable. We have been in conversation about how we invite the women we are connected to here to think about equitable access and consider the many issues related to it, including race, for some time.
Perhaps we have spent too long thinking about how to do this. And not taken action quickly enough.
And so, in this moment as decades of organising led by Black and Brown people is finally leading many to turn their eyes to the issue of white supremacy and as we finish writing our book, we want to invite you to consider the question, how does your Red Tent, or the Red Tent you attend, either uphold or challenge white supremacy?
It might do both in some ways. We are all living in a system of white supremacy as well as one of capitalism and patriarchy. Seeing how they operate is the first step.
We think that Red Tents can help us build connection in ways that challenge these systems but we also know that they can be – sometimes unwittingly – complicit with them.
We have more to say about this and we know that this is long-term work to be in anti-racist practice in our Red Tents and so we aren’t going to try and say everything now.
In this moment the urgent thing is to do what you are able to support active movements led by Black People. There are many many ways to do that including supporting protest if you can’t currently participate. There are many places you can give resources also. Look online for general lists of these.
In addition to public acts of solidarity consider how you can mindfully reach out to Black women, and other women of colour active in your Red Tent community. The government sanctioned violence against Black people and systemic racism which is being called to our attention right now can have a serious impact on mental health and wellbeing and this time can also be particularly triggering. This trauma is not new so don’t act shocked or ask questions for your own understanding. But where you are in relationship, do open your heart, create space, invite communication, and listen.
We want to also highlight the work that Bloody Good Period do providing menstrual products to refugees and asylum seekers many of whom are Black and Indigenous People of Colour. In the context of the current pandemic their work is particularly important.
There is much to learn, especially if this is new for you. You can google and find stuff. If you are a white person reading this please bear in mind that your requests for help with this learning from Black and Indigenous People of Colour are an additional demand on them in a time where a lot is being stirred up collectively and individually so please do your own research rather than burdening them with endless questions.
We offer you this short list of reading to support your reflections. It’s not a full and thorough list just a starting point of a few things we think are particularly relevant for those holding and participating in Red Tent Spaces:
For those identifying as white:
I need to talk to spiritual white women about white supremacy: laylafsaad.com/poetry-prose/white-women-white-supremacy-1
Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad: www.meandwhitesupremacybook.com/ (there is an invitation to work through the book in Circle towards the end)
Performative Allyship is Dead by Holiday Phillips: forge.medium.com/performative-allyship-is-deadly-c900645d9f1f
For Everyone (with particular recommendations for those raced as White and those directly impacted by racism):
My Grandmothers Hands: Racialized Trauma and the pathway to mending our hearts and bodies: www.resmaa.com/books
We believe that rooting out white supremacy and building culture that is anti-racist not just a nice to have but a central component of how we can make Red Tents spaces that offer women, community and connection that has been absent and we also know this isn’t easy, that it requires us, particularly those of us who are white, to understand ourselves as both being oppressed by things, for example patriarchy, and also, part of an oppressive system called white supremacy that privileges us.
Ultimately understanding and integrating that truth is healing work for us all. And we know from experience that it is also difficult and challenging.
We invite you to think about how you can be part of that healing and how you can do so through what you do in your Red Tent.