By Lauren Rubin –
Disclaimer: This article is directed at a white audience seeking to continue practicing allyship. While I hope that anyone can derive value from this piece, I want to acknowledge that any Black people or POC reading this do not need my advice and may find the suggestions below obvious or redundant.
What do you associate with the watery sign of Cancer?
The first thing I think of is intense sensitivity born out of a superhuman ability to empathize. The maternal, caring nature of the zodiac’s Crab comes from a place of being able to quite literally feel the pain of another and respond in the way someone needs to be nurtured. Another thing that comes to mind is the physical representation of the Crab: a crustacean with a hard-to-crack outer shell housing sweet meat inside. This is the precise plight of the Cancer, an uber-sensitive individual who sometimes dons a tough exterior to protect their precious tenderness within. I also think of loyalty when I meditate on the sign of Cancer. Cancers naturally tend to cultivate ride-or-die relationships, and they’re pros at weathering the storms of good and bad in service of their dedication to others.
What does this exercise accomplish? Firstly, understanding the qualities each zodiac season brings—and thus what you might cultivate during that time—is an excellent habit to get into. But in this case, it serves an even deeper purpose when we’re seeking to apply this season’s lessons to our country’s current climate. 2020’s Cancer season falls during the most publicly tumultuous time in our personal histories. While my typical recommendations for Cancer season might include sprucing your home environment with cozy candles or repairing a relationship with a friend who you’ve fallen out of touch with, this year is different.
This year, I want to suggest we ask ourselves how we can take the empathy, tenderness, sensitivity, and loyalty mentioned above and put them to good use. Instead of learning how to better apply those qualities to ourselves (while still a noble and important feat), it’s time to re-focus that energy on the collective. Let’s dive into how we can implement Cancer season’s energy in our activism to enhance our understanding and impact within the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Feel your feelings.
As scary as it can be, Cancer asks us to acknowledge the depths of emotion that swell when we see videos or read stories of innocent Black men and women being murdered and brutalized by police. In fact, innocent or not, no one deserves to die at the hands of bigoted, ultraviolent officers who are so bloated with power they’re rarely held accountable for their violence. It can feel disturbing; it can feel scary; it can you make you feel hopeless; it can make you feel angry. Sometimes it seems safer to push down that grief and soldier on in your activist efforts, but Cancer season says otherwise. This time of year is asking us to tap into unparalleled levels of empathy to motivate our demands for change. It’s time to feel deeply.
Start by acknowledging not just the statistics, but the humanity within this movement. Really let it sink in that George Floyd was someone's son. Someone's boyfriend. Someone's brother. Feel the pain that comes up when you process that Rayshard Brooks was the beloved father of three little girls, ages 1, 2, and 8. He had plans to take his eldest skating for her birthday, who sat waiting in her party dress for a dad who never came home. Journal about what you feel when accepting how Breonna Taylor, who dedicated her life to helping others as an EMT, was murdered in the comfort of her home, cuddled up with her boyfriend in the cozy morning hours—murdered, no less, by those put in place to supposedly protect her. Endure the pain that rises when you learn how Elijah McClain, a gentle-natured introvert, told officers in his final dying words, “You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful. And I love you…(crying) Oh I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe.” Or note your feelings about Tamir Rice, a boy-faced 12-year-old who was killed in 2014 for playing with a toy gun in a park, like any kid might do, a mere two seconds after a police officer arrived on the scene. (Meanwhile, violent white supremacist Dylann Roof, who massacred nine Black victims, was taken to Burger King for a snack before being safely escorted to jail.)
What emotions must you confront when reading the heartbreaking last words of just a fraction of Black men and women unjustly murdered by police in the graphic below?
These murders are not just sobering statistics. Each of these individuals, along with countless others (and who knows how many that never made it to the news) each had dreams, fears, desires, plans. They had favorite meals, and beloved items of clothing. Songs that made them smile. Memories from childhood. Movies they loved. Places they wanted to visit. Bucket lists to cross off. Family members to hug. People they wanted to kiss, one last time. Behind each brutalization was a beautiful human being tragically ripped from this earth at the hands of a system intentionally designed to abuse those with Black skin.
So, cry. Feel the horror of these tragedies. Acknowledge out loud the names of the deceased. Let a fountain of feelings come forth. Cancer season dictates that if we can feel intensely, have a good cry, and not just sympathize but empathize with these victims of police brutality, and with Black people across the country who are disenfranchised, criminalized, and targeted with harm every day, we will only enhance our activism ammunition.
Emotions are fuel for activism because it's easy to ignore something that doesn't impact you.
Take time to integrate.
Not only are we influenced by the waters of Cancer season right now, but we are also moving through the year’s second Mercury Retrograde. Retrogrades always encourage us to step back and do some processing, reminding us of the value behind integration and planning. You've signed the petitions, called the government officials, attended the protests, etc., so during Mercury Rx start to take some time to integrate the knowledge you've picked up.
Actually dive into that list of antiracist books and movies. Talk among friends and family members about what you’ve learned, what you still don’t understand, what else you can educate yourself about. And most importantly, retrogrades ask us to stop fetishizing forward motion as the only valuable mode of being. Resting and recharging is absolutely, inarguably crucial for success. In fact, avoiding burnout is the only sustainable way to move forward in the long run. (Roughly half of activists studied in 2015 who did not take a break ended up experiencing burnout and leaving the movement for good - we don't want that!)
Do the internal work.
To add onto the current celestial storm, it’s also Eclipse Season. In the wise words of astrologer Chani Nicholas, Eclipse Season “marks a moment where we gain clarity about what we need to put a stop to. These eclipses in particular demand our finest efforts, making clear the conflict we have to work through. They encourage us to purge the emotional, psychological, and interpersonal toxins from our lives.” In this sense, now is a great time to honestly examine your implicit biases. ‘Not racist’ and ‘antiracist’ do not mean the same thing. How do you plan on figuring out what thoughts, behaviors and feelings need to be abolished from your life?
For example, as it was expertly put on Instagram by @itsagreatdaytolearnabout, emphasizing the innocence, sweetness, or introversion of Black victims of police brutality is actually an anti-Black act.
“It is an act of racial violence to murder shy Black boys just as much as it is an act of racial violence to murder loud Black girls and erratic Black people with mental health disorders and Black trans folk and ‘non-compliant’ Black men…[and] even GUITLY Black folks.” The post continues, “the cops are not our execution squad.”
What comes up for you when you recognize how you might have participated in that narrative? What can you purge from your way of thinking to move from this Eclipse Season into an even more inclusive, progressive, and antiracist attitude? The list below (while not even remotely exhaustive) containing recommendations to continue your education and examine your own biases might be a start:
13th (Netflix) - documentary
Time: The Kalief Browder Story (Netflix) – six-part documentary series
When They See Us (Netflix) - miniseries
I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon) - documentary
"How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi - book
“A Talk To Teachers” by James Baldwin - essay
“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh - essay
“The Case For Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates - article
1619 from the NYT - podcast
Code Switch from NPR - podcast
“White Privilege” by Kyla J Lacey – spoken word poem
“How Can We Win” by Kimberly Jones – filmed speech
For even more anti-racism resources, view this larger—though not complete—list here: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES.
Finally, remember that what is happening socially and politically with regards to race in this country is not new. Just because it might’ve recently appeared on your timeline doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a lived experience for millions of Black people for centuries. And most importantly, remember that this is a movement; not a moment. As social media slowly migrates back to posting as usual, remember that your work must continue. Utilize the resources above, do some research of your own, and long after Cancer season ends, see if you can continue to apply the Cancerian qualities of empathy, loyalty, and sensitivity to your lifelong activist efforts.
Channel your activism in Dooz's new Zodiac Bandana. For the month of July, Dooz is donating a portion of bandana proceeds to the NAACP. Show off what makes you you while fighting for a more united and just America.
Cover image by: Margo Isadora