Learning and Unlearning
It’s Black History Month but so much more. First I wish for this month to be filled with both learning and unlearning for all of us.
There is the learning and understanding who we are as a people in the rich, diverse, and complex ways we are. Then there is the unlearning of the simplified, biased and harmful versions of history and identity all of us have been given by the dominant culture.
I hope that this Black History month we can continue moving through our painful and traumatic past and present to a future where we can have respect, equity, and dignity while remaining as we were created but while able to finally release the historical, intergenerational, persistent personal racialized trauma that is rooted inside. I wish for a Black Future where we feel safe enough that the very bodies we walk in aren’t sufficient cause for death, racial aggression, emotional abuse through subtle and not-so-subtle forms of prejudice and racism. That they won’t be seen as somehow less worthy of dignity and life than our white peers.
I hope for a Black Future in which those who participated in harming us, apologize for the pain and suffering caused by this country and its institutions on Black people’s lives. I hope for opportunities, security, and peace to live and thrive.
We can’t undo the past but we can heal. All of us. We all hold trauma because of the acts sanctioned (and unsanctioned) against Black bodies and Black minds.
The question is whether we are willing to look at ourselves and admit it. Black people need to admit we need to heal from hundreds of years of persistent abuse. White people need to heal from participating in the trauma or witnessing it and allowing it to happen. All of these cause trauma and trauma response.
Healing the Trauma of our Black History Experience
This year for Black History month I challenge Black people and families to investigate within themselves and their homes how the history of fear, violence, hatred, and insecurity in your and your loved ones’ safety has impacted you and your family today. What generational “curses” and chains need to be broken that can start emotional, mental and physical healing?
For the White people courageous enough to have read this far, my challenge for you is similar. Investigate all the feelings that rise up when race, and especially Blackness, is mentioned. How has understanding the historical and present violence, discrimination, and covert racism from your perspective shaped your view of us and of White people? How has it affected your emotional and mental health being a witness (or possibly even a participant) in creating and adding to trauma and to Black people. Have you felt powerless? Guilty? Burdened? How has that impacted your interactions with us? Other White people? How can you release and heal the trauma you hold so you can be a better holder of space and energy for us?
It’s Time for Secured Black Futures
It’s a lot. For Black people and White people but unless the only future we want is one where we keep regurgitating the same few Civil Rights Leaders from my mom’s generation or having to constantly retraumatize ourselves by the ongoing violence against our bodies and minds we need to shift the narrative. To do that we need to ease the pain. Black people need to heal because it’s killing us as a community. White people need to heal because you keep killing us- directly and indirectly.
If you want to talk about healing, I’m here. If you want to understand how white people experience racialized trauma, copy that little italicized phrase and pop it in Oceanhero to search (and help clean up our oceans at the same time.)
Just do something towards creating a Black future that is positive for Black people and might even bring some peace and healing to all people.