At a Planetary Crossroads: Contemplative Wisdom of Black Geographies

This article is from Embodied Philosophy’s MindBody Studies Track.

I gather cornmeal. Without fresh rose petals, dried ones from last week’s bouquet will do. A small bowl holds water laced with a few drops of orange oil. Sweetened for the sit. Slowly, slowly, I draw the cornmeal in a vertical line, and then one horizontally, across. The cornmeal forms a crossroads. With each line, I trace lineage. I remember African-American ancestors and their use of cornmeal for cooking and spiritual work. I recall Xicana/Mexican ancestors from whom corn has long been sacred. Now, to let the rose petals fall, fall, wherever they may. And then for a moment, I sit. Sit with the crossroads. Sit with my eyes closed. Sit until I am no longer focused on this line or that line, but am drawn to the center…

Last year, the world faced a crossroads. We remain at one still, as the pandemic calls attention to longstanding social and environmental injustice. Widespread activism is lifting up these injustices, from the Movement for Black Lives to indigenous calls for “Land Back.” These movements press us to articulate “we” carefully during these times: we are not “in this together” in the same way due to legacies of race and racism, privilege, and oppression. The crossroads amplifies these legacies and demands for transformation. 

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