Some Tibetan Thoughts and Feelings on Tibet x Decolonial Atlas
You can find the takeover through Mingyur la’s website here.
When my friend Dr. Tenzin Mingyur Paldron let me know he would be putting together a Tibet-themed takeover of the Instagram page Decolonial Atlas, I was excited, and a little nervous for the ways that various people from within our community would interpret the information I imagined he would present.
Mingyur la’s deep dive into so many aspects of Tibetan culture, history, global significance, and interconnectedness surprised even me, who knows his deeply grounded, passionate way of thinking and doing, with its brilliance.
I was excited that people I admire who follow the account, like Alexis Nikole (@blackforager) Rachel Cargle, Ericka Hart, Amber Starks (@melaninmvskoke), and Dr. Adrienne Keene (Dr. Adrienne K.), to name a few, might see some of the posts, that they might feel some recognition, interest, appreciation, or even kinship with Tibet and Tibetans.
I knew that the offer of the takeover was really an invitation for extensive free labor from a Tibetan. I knew that the offer resulted from the Decolonial Atlas team ignoring Tibetan names for major rivers with headwaters in Tibet on a post and then doubling down on their decision when Tibetans called them out for it, so I already had my skepticism of how they would handle the takeover.
I completely forgot about the tankies. As they poured in on each lovingly curated post, saying what they predictably say, I felt my blood pressure going up and up. I felt an unfortunately familiar shock and dislocation beginning to set in.
But I’ve been down this road before. I have dedicated hours to my healing study and practice, and I want to share what I can offer in this, one of many painful moments. This is a debrief, an offering to Tibetans, especially those in diaspora like me, who might have been newly or re-traumatized by the denialist, deeply violent responses that the takeover engendered, but really for all the violences that we might experience.
I want to offer a few guidances and phrases of healing to those who, like me, might be feeling disoriented by this on top of the other endless ways we struggle to find ourselves and our voices in the world.
I begin with a deep sadness, based on a deep love. I am sorry that we have to experience such things. I am sorry that by existing as we are, by wanting what we want, by wanting only to go home, we draw such violence.
The mountains are still there. They sit, witnessing, protecting, still there.
You don’t have to know every fact to be right, especially in the face of those who will deny them anyway. Keep learning, be humble, and trust that your existence alone is a testament to what is true.
Keep walking in a good way. Our lives and relationships will speak volumes when baseless, factless attacks get levelled at us and our communities.
Be clear and brave about facing the flaws within our communities, ways of thinking, etc too. This requires strength, courage, and integrity of course. But it puts us far beyond those who are seemingly unable to do so and cling to an ideology in the face of spiritual, political, factual, and emotional evidence to the contrary.
I am sorry that it hurts.
Recognize that resistance looks many different ways. You were not born to fight all the time.
Take good care of yourselves and each other. Draw boundaries with conviction, as often as you need. You do not exist to educate, to debate, as a political pawn.