As we adjust to a “new normal” I ask myself… what is new that we must normalize into and what norms have been made evident during this time that we have the opportunity to create anew? About two weeks into the CA COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place order, I wrote down some of my family’s learnings and undertakings. I taught my 11-year-old son how to ride a bike finally after many years of convincing after a fall he had when he was 6 years old. Among others, on my list was: baking, learning to type (which I never really achieved) and the intention to get through my fears. This last intention has come up over and over for the past 3.5 months. As hard as it is sometimes, waking up to myself and the reality of our moment has become my “new normal”. This blog post is one of those times.
I grew up as an Arab, Muslim American immigrant in the Midwest in the ’70s and ’80s. My parents immigrated from Baghdad, Iraq with my 3 siblings in 1971 when I was 5 years old. I want to believe that times have changed since I was growing up. That the racial slurs and prejudice I received when I was young have dissipated. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve witnessed the shift to be more subtle and nuanced. While I spent so much of my waking life wanting to either disappear or fit into the predominantly white Anglo-Saxon protestant all-girls school I attended, growing up different and proud to be different has shaped who I am today.
It has allowed me to see things differently; to see between the cracks; to put myself in others’ shoes. It has given me the appreciation of other cultures, languages, music, food, and viewpoints. It has given me an empathy for suffering and a love of humanity. While there may have been a couple instances where I observed systemic racism inflicted on me because of the color of my skin, I cannot say for sure… I do know that I was fortunate that my parents always took pride in their culture and religion and didn’t shy away from it. That said, I was lucky… other than the strictness of my upbringing, consciously, I did not feel oppressed or limited by the society I adopted as my own.
COVID-19 (hopefully) woke us up to the fact that we are all interconnected. That there is no separation. What’s inside is outside and what’s outside is inside. That we can no longer avoid the pain and suffering in others because we are forced to take care of virtual strangers – the “other.” And, sometimes we forget why. I thought… perhaps COVID-19 is an invisible cure to all that ails us as a society. A Great Awakening of sorts. But, in a country where binary thinking seems to be a way of life, COVID-19 is a both/and our brains cannot grasp… a conundrum of uncertainty. The only thing we know is that we don’t know.
And then we watched George Floyd be killed on live T.V. Held down at the knee of a white police officer, who looked numb and cold, for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. The country was/is aghast! Maybe it’s because we are in a moment of heightened sensitivity and a strange sense of togetherness that this Black man’s needless death among so many before him (and probably after) has hit us hardest. That it’s time we wake up to our country’s sordid history of racism and inequality against Black Americans. That we can no longer be numb and cold and ignorant. That while progress has been made as it relates to race in America, its time is long overdue that anyone is judged, treated unequally or killed because of the color of their skin.
Over the next three months, Numi will devote our posts to Wake up Calls. What are we learning during this time? What are we waking up to? How can we wake up more refreshed, more purposeful and more ready to live our life’s purpose? If not now, when will we wake up to climate change, racial injustice and the power to vote in change?
Tea is a gift. It offers us a time to pause and reflect. To meditate before the day begins, accept what is and intend our best self forward. To breathe into the difficulties and pain and let it go. To transform our perception for just a little and invite a deepening of self-trust, humanity and, maybe, our evolution. I invite you to join us on this journey and share what you are waking up to… an aha moment, a transformative realization… What is the world you want to wake up to? What is the world we want our children to wake up to? And what changes can we make in ourselves in every moment that wakes us into a “new normal”?
Co-founder & Chief Brand Officer, Numi