By Ami Manning

I went to the workshop bone-tired. It had been a long, rainy day that began before 7 am and was stretching into the evening. I went for my family, Holden and Indy, two white boys from Idaho, who need to understand privilege and systemic racism. I feel this responsibility deep in my bones. My family is white, working-class poor, the kind of rural family that is losing out to corporate greed and has very few options left. There is despair and decline in the places I grew up. There is xenophobia and racism deep in the places I grew up, long legacies of exclusion and white pioneer worship.

When I was younger I found Anti-Racist Action; it was a confrontational and in your face kind of activism. There was no room for dialogue; we were right and they were bigots. This year of all years, as I have been confronted daily by my own racist family members and a deluge of facebook hate, I wanted to know better, to understand better and to do better.

Jessica Campbell was thoughtful and engaging. She encouraged us to make mistakes, to be vulnerable and to reach further. This way of leaning into the uncomfortable, awkward and messy I found reassuring. It is humble, gutsy and real. It is this real humility that is always at the heart of peace work. Sometimes, we forget, amidst the pain, injustice and insurmountable odds. We forget ourselves. Movements are built, person by person.

It is how we change hearts and minds, beginning first with ourselves. This authentic work on myself and a sincere expression of deep compassion for people I disagree with on a soul-level is the only way. Everything else crumbles, ignores the complexities of individual experiences within systems. This is the goal of peace-making: the expression of healthy communities. It is hard work. It is messy and google doesn’t have road maps here. This kind of work is sustaining for the dark days ahead…