Today I learned about the passing of Vera Rubin, astronomer who discovered dark matter less than 50 years ago. She was rejected from Princeton University's graduate program in the mid 70s because of her gender, and dedicated much of her life advocating for women in the sciences. Minutes after filming, I also found out about the passing of Carrie Fisher, badass actress who played Princess Leia in Star Wars and made all of us women feel like we are not damsels in need of saving from our distress! While Rubin is not someone I personally followed, the theory of dark matter has recently played a heavy theme in my life. Also, Star Wars: Rogue One just came out and I've been chanting, "I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me!" - Chirrut Imwe. I don't believe in coincidences, only awakenings and synchronicity that act as affirmations in our path.
Ever since I finished reading the book, "Race and the Cosmos" by Barbara A. Holmes over a year ago, I have been so infatuated by dark matter and what it means for our existence in this physical realm. In it, Holmes discusses how our liberation is tied to our relationship with the cosmos, and that we must move beyond race theory by breaking from our assigned identities to see we are a reflection of these "invisible" particles that hold our galaxies together.
"But what is dark matter? Some scientists are reluctant to describe a phenomenon that is still quite mysterious. Others say it is like a cohesive but invisible material that sheds no detectable light. We know it is there because of the rotation of spiral galaxies like the Milky Way and the measurements of its mass. Dark matter may serve a vital function in the life of the universe if it is as powerful and connective as scientists presume. Thus far, analogies come closest to describing its effects.
Rubin says that it could be like any other ordinary material such as cold gas, dust, or small black holes. It could be a category of dark objects called MACHOS (massive compact halo objects) that are invisible but present in the halos of galaxies. It could be made of something we don't understand and can't observe, or perhaps we don't understand gravity as well as we thought. However dark matter is described, it is assumed to be powerful and predominant.
My point here is that the universe confirms our common origins and interconnections. However, those who persist in games of white dominance should be forewarned that the new physics and cosmology offer concepts that can be appropriated for similar claims of dominance by the two-thirds of the world. Of course, the better option for all people is to celebrate our commonalities and rejoice in our differences. In a culture where darkness has been deemed a harbinger of evil, a marker of inferiority, the opposite of all things good and virtuous, the unveiling of dark matter holds out the possibility of communal 'conversion,' a rhetorical turning to hopeful things. In the place of discourses of inferiority and marginalization, dark matter is a symbol of power and relevance. It also offers dark people an opportunity to begin to see themselves as metaphorically connected to a darkness that is predominant in the universe."
- Excerpt from "Race & the Cosmos" by Barbara A. Holmes (P. 106)
Confession: I grew up incredibly insecure about my darker skin color, and felt like I would never be fully accepted by others because of it. As a kid, I was made fun of a LOT by my peers, but I can see where it stems from now. (It didn't help that I had big coke bottle eyeglasses either!) Even when I'd return to my mother's village in Thailand I would watch as my cousins and aunties obsessively applied bleaching cream on their bodies to see if they could get any lighter. I now see the beauty in my melanin, and have spent the past several years working with young teenagers of color to feel comfortable and empowered in their own skin by introducing them to the origins/theories of race (race doesn't exist, but racism does!), exploring their unique cultures and identities, and rewriting their own stories from the perspective of the stars they are literally made from for the next generation to come. We've also discussed #blacklivesmatter and what our role should be as allies/accomplices in this movement as we challenge anti-blackness and colorism in our own communities - because I personally feel this uncomfortable work that most people would rather avoid is foundational to achieving cosmic consciousness. (Such heavy topics for teenagers to grasp, but I promise they were made fun and relevant! I stray away from lectures or classroom format by using tons of circles, theater games, and media so we're always engaged and co-learning.)
Fast forward to today, I am now working with adults by launching my personal coaching practice, Green Tara Guidance - which I'm so excited to share with you in the next couple of months. While I've spent most of my time working with young people to undo internalized oppression, I realize that adults need a space to process and heal just as much so they can step into their divine purpose and follow it unapologetically. Green Tara is still in her birthing phase, but with love and care I know she is going to help so many of us in this lifetime. (More on her later!)
Several months ago, I was asked to come up with a coach's stand in my training program, and without even writing it down I blurted: "illuminating Dark Matter! My aim is to bring light to life's uncertainties by embracing the cosmos within." I then retracted, thinking that others wouldn't understand and would think I'm too weird or far off, but as I learn to embody these words I can feel the shifts taking place in my own life.
We can learn so much from the cosmos, and know that I am also on this journey of discovery with you. I used to feel so paralyzed by my own victimhood of being born in this body, but when I remember that I am just a spiritual being held together by a mass of elements and compounds, I'm essentially made of the same stuff as stardust - and one day, I will return home.