Dear My Fellow White Spiritual People,
I want to talk to you about past lives. Many of us feel that we have had past lives and remember some portion of them. As white people are actually a minority in the world, one common experience is to remember a past life in which you are a person of color. Quite often, this life also took place in a different country.
This is not a free pass.
I am not here to debate the trueness of your past life visions or the depth of your feeling of connection to another country or culture. I am here to tell you that using that as the sole currency for taking on the symbols of that culture is appropriation. Your past life in India does not excuse you from educating yourself, contributing to Indian causes where appropriate, and forming connections with Indian communities before respectfully asking if it is OK to take on symbols of that culture. Or, better, do those things instead of taking on the symbols.
Also, your past lives do not excuse you from doing anti-racist work. Your memory of what it was like being oppressed has not magically erased your white privilege. Even if this is your very first life being white, you are still benefiting. Working to dismantle privilege is part of your responsibility in this life. Don’t tell people of color that you understand their oppression, or that you’ve been oppressed too. Don’t act like you are part of a racialized group that you were in a past life. In this life, you are white. Deal with it.
Your White Spiritual Friend