First Steps to Healing Generations of Pain
A spiritualist’s opinion piece with a particular look at racism in the US
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been deeply saddened and affected by the state of my country. The US is in the midst of two of the most ill-handled crises: Corona Virus and a race war.
After the murder of George Floyd on the 25 May at the hands of the Minneapolis police, the United States spun out of control. Still in a pandemic, that has so far taken the lives of 111,000 people and has spread to 1.94 million United States citizens, racism continues to be the other pandemic that the American people have to grapple with. All across America there are protests, mostly peaceful. Some, unfortunately, may have turned violent and dangerous due to protesters being seen as threats by the police, and ‘terrorists’ by the sitting President of the United States. He who claims to bring law and order to a sometimes seemingly lawless and chaotic State, due to there being no stable leadership. Social media has shown that police in certain cities have even ignited protests with dropping off bricks to ‘check points’. This is so that protesters would have ‘ammunition’ to throw bricks towards the police and local stores. Police have also been caught on camera, breaking their own cars, to then have those cars featured on the nightly news, as if protesters were the culprits.
There are several different messages running around the news and social media. Depending on each channel, you could get a different view. The protesters are peaceful. The protesters are violent; and the ones antagonising the cops. The cops are hugging protesters, talking about standing with the Black Lives Matter movement. The cops are the instigators; throwing tear gas, shooting rubber bullets, pushing, shoving, and trying to run over protesters. They are all looters. Or, some of them are looters. The divisiveness in the country continues to reach a peak; as a President hides in a bunker and tweets racist and violent tweets; calling for Governors to rile up everyday citizens with their guns, and practice their 2nd amendment right.
What is the better way?
Then, there are several people, blacks included, who condemn the looters and say there must be a better way. But, I wonder, what is that better way when the messaging is all convoluted? When we still have to educate whites on their privilege; given the fact that they never have to fear, think, consider, learn, understand, or comprehend a world where they are not considered the default race. Where we still have companies that do not have any person of colour on their boards. Where we still live in a world where most Ivy Leagues just got their first black student body president after 200+ years of their existences. When the Black Lives Matter movement becomes nothing more than a # to some people. When on 2 June, the education, understanding, and amplification of black voices was reduced to a black box and silence on a social media posts.
Let’s consider this: we vote, we protest peacefully, we go to school to get in high level positions and try to change the system from the inside out. We become the President of the United States, we create our own businesses, we do what they say that we are supposed to do. And yet, a black man on the 25 May lost his ability to live his life, because he was seen as less than human. Lest we not also forget, only 3 months prior, on the 23 February, Ahmaud Arbery, decided to take a jog, and lost his life due the same assumption. He was hunted as if he were an animal. Not by any real evidence of him being animalistic or dangerous; but, because his murderers thought he was one. They have been trained by racist conditioning and programming that black lives don’t matter.
All of the murderers, the four cops involved in George’s death, and the 3 murderers, in Ahmaud’s death, thought blackness and black people are inferior. Somewhere deep inside their minds, they think black equals worthless, black lives can be dissolved and thrown away at will, at any time, no matter who is looking. Not one of them considered the consequences of their actions; or even considered their actions to be wrong. How many times have we seen black lives taken away by a murderer(s) who still remains free to live their life/lives? Breonna Taylor, a would be 27-year-old woman, lost her life during this pandemic, on the 13 March, when Louisville police shot her whilst sleeping, due to entering the wrong apartment. Her killers have still not been brought to trial.
As a black American spiritualist, I wonder, what is the better way those people were referring to? How can we heal, as a black community, as a human community, from racism? Racism did not start when George Floyd died. Nor, did it start when people started burning cop cars or shouting at the faces of police. Racism did not start by the oppressed, but by the oppressor. And racism continues to benefit those same people now shouting, ‘there is no white privilege’, ‘blue lives matter’, ‘all lives matter’, ‘the protesters are terrorists’. You know, the same person holding a bible upside down at a church they don’t even pray at, just to get a photo opportunity. The same ones who say they are not racist, yet stay silent and complacent when they see overt and passive racism in their work places, in their communities, and in their environments. The same people that have black people around them. Yet, they don’t listen to them, talk over them, and gaslight them as soon as a black person brings up their pain, or even discomfort with the current system. The same people who don’t admit their privilege but use it as a weapon against a black person when it suits them.
The whole western world was built on the backs of black lives for 600+ years. And you know what the greatest preclusion to our healing has been? This consistent illusion the oppressive class has promoted and propagated, (best illustrated by the famous Biggie Smalls line), ‘it was all a dream.’ Black people have been making it up. Slavery is over. Years of stealing bodies, precious minerals, heirlooms, and artefacts in Africa to be shipped all across Europe and the Americas, is irrelevant to the opportunities one has today. The institutions that are unjust and were created to continue to oppress are perfectly just. One just has to know how to behave themselves within them. Jim Crow, KKK, the Tulsa Bombing, police brutality didn’t affect and doesn’t continue to affect the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of any person. These events in history and in our society have nothing to do with passed on generational trauma. I could go on and on.
The violence, the looting, the breaking buildings, the graffiti, the fires, these are not seen as consequences of a last resort.
Our pain, our rage, our disgust, our upset, is just seen as ‘so stereotypical.’ The violence, the looting, the breaking buildings, the graffiti, the fires, these are not seen as consequences of a last resort. These are not seen as battle cries awakened as a result of being largely ignored for the last 600+ years. These are not seen as attempts to tear down a system where its original design was the overuse, destruction, and dehumanisation of the black body. Particularly for the US, it has not been that all men were created equal (Thomas Jefferson). When that statement was even written, and to Thomas himself, it wasn’t even believed that blacks were even in the definition of ‘man’.
The sick irony in Thomas Jefferson’s words is that, though he did not believe that black people were human; he fathered six black children and had a long time black mistress, Sally Hemings. This irony designed the very fabric of our country. Even though African Americans have been in North America since 1684; and most of our current population have been born and raised in America for several generations, we are still not accepted as being [hu]man.
How do we heal?
So, again, I pose the question. What is our better way? How do we heal? How can we heal in a country that has fathered us, but sees us as the illegitimate benefactors of our citizenship? How do we heal, when our pain and our trauma are overlooked, and sometimes used for entertainment value (shouting out the slave movies of Hollywood), or even appropriated by the dominate group?
As a spiritualist, my understanding of healing is to confront what makes us angry, sad, and unhappy. We must confront the realities of our trauma, understand and learn from it, to move forward and rebuild. We must feel all of our feelings, break down all that has caused us to feel negative, to start from new ways of thinking, being, feeling, and connecting. In this case, say we don’t throw a brick through buildings and set stores alight. But, we must confront the realities of racism. Not just racism that began in America, because racism did not start in America. Racism started when the first European stepped foot in Africa and saw to it that he was superior; and, ask those people to praise a foreign King or Queen. Racism started when the first missionaries told Africans to be Christian monotheist, believing in a white God and a white blonde Jesus, from the Middle East.
Let us heal by not making excuses for our racist programming and conditioning, or avoiding the subject altogether.
In order to heal, we must all educate ourselves on historic and systemic oppression and the consequences it has caused. We must honour the feelings we feel: the anger, the confusion, the loss, the trauma, the pain, and the guilt. We must be honest about our reality to ourselves; and, to those who continue to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the horrors that racism have plagued in our society. We must, at once, work to dismantle racist perceptions, laws, educational programs, institutions, and systems; put in place to favour the oppressive class. We must break down negative reinforcements from old, racist patterns. We must remove old relics that uphold the system of slavery. We must remove media and entertainment programming designed to show the default race in a positive light, and the oppressed race in a negative light. We must vote on a local, state, and federal level, to remove those who uphold racist law and order. We must defund institutions that support racism overtly or overlook it with complacency. We must also learn to hear the truth of our pain from black voices. We must learn from real experiences and real scholars, who write history the way it was, and not as bias think pieces. Let us heal by not making excuses for our racist programming and conditioning, or avoiding the subject altogether. Let us heal through radical realisation and honesty, to and with ourselves. Let us heal by rebuilding and starting from scratch. Let us heal by true empathy, understanding, learning, developing, and growing as a collective. So that we, as all human beings can thrive into the future; judged by the content of our character, instead of the colour of our skin. (Martin Luther King)