By Kerri Romeo
Alice is called upon again (if you recall the first time was before the caucus race in A Prize of Our Own) to settle the disagreements in Wonderland. This time it is the King, the Queen and the Executioner who are arguing over how to behead the Cheshire Cat…a cat who in the moment has no visible body. But nobody is questioning why the Cat even deserves to be punished or simply disliked in the first place. Is choosing not to kiss the King’s hand a punishable crime?
`A cat may look at a king,’ said Alice.
People in power may provide a reason (whether it be based on race, class, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation or any factor of separation) to justify actions that pressure, discriminate or punish another, but that does not mean the reason is reasonable. As we argue over every issue with our different interpretations and perceptions we remain focused on the issues and often miss the deeper questions. Where did these perceptions come from? Are they valid? Or are they patterns that are so ingrained within us that we don’t even recognize their distortions?
Whether consciously or subconsciously, those in power are too afraid to call upon us to settle the problems they have created and perpetuate today. Those in power have always associated curiosity with misbehavior (Eve is tempted by the forbidden fruit in Eden introducing awareness of good and evil; Pandora opened the jar to release misfortune upon humankind; and the saying “curiosity killed the cat”). These stories are meant to discourage too much interest and investigation. On the other hand, Alice encourages us to break away from the accepted traditions. If traditions hurt, why can’t we change them? Are you curious enough to break through the patterns of our history?
When it comes to racism, the proposed solutions are usually economic. While this will address the issue on a much-needed practical level, what are we missing? The moral response is that it is the right thing to do. The practical response is that it is what is owed. These are both valid arguments. So why are we stuck? Why are we so resistant even when we claim to want change? Why are the questions people ask (or more often expressed in the tone of accusations) not usually directly addressed? Beyond the moral and the practical, what about our emotional heritage? We heal the future by healing the past (remember time is irrelevant in Wonderland).
Periodically one will see a picture of a black child and a white child looking at one another lovingly with the caption that no one is born racist. The suggestion is that racism is only learned behavior. But are we born with a clean slate? Or can we be born racist? If our genes are expressed in our physical health, why wouldn’t our cellular memories be expressed in our emotional health too?
“All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb, and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born, and this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother.”
– Layne Redmond (When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm)
Do you accept the answers the “experts” share in the media to these questions? How would you answer these questions?:
- “Why do we need to pay for what happened in the past?”
- “I am friends with people of all nationalities and religions. How can I be racist?”
- “My family never lived on a plantation or owned slaves. Why am I responsible?”
As hate crimes and systemic inequalities toward Asians, Blacks, Muslims, Jewish and Native Americans continue, do you believe the issues are in the past?
The Cat’s head began fading away the moment he [the executioner] was gone, and, by the time he had come back with the Duchess, it had entirely disappeared; so the King and the executioner ran wildly up and down looking for it, while the rest of the party went back to the game.from Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VIII
Are you going back to the game? Or will you help to heal our timeless wounds?
Editor’s note: Watch the latest “At The Crossroads” with Mary Hollywood to see an interview with writer, Kerri Romeo and Amplifire Project Creative Coordinator, Victoria Lynn Hall where they discuss The Wonderland Campaign and the Wonderland Campaign Discussion Group, among other things.
And don’t forget to sign up for the Wonderland Campaign Discussion Group e-mail list here.
Kerri spends her days as an office administrator for a ballet barre manufacturer and her free time playing frisbee with her dog in NJ. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.