Transcript of “Message for Healing”
I’d like to start by saying, thanks for being here. Thank you for showing how important the current condition of our nation is by considering it worth showing up for a difficult and necessary listening opportunity and conversation about the division and violence we are seeing. This will be a healthy conversation on making sense of how we got here and how we can change things for the better by paving a pathway of love that leads to healing. Though we will talk about racism there will be no racist remarks. Though we will share stories, we will share nothing in order to tear anyone down. Let us acknowledge that we are all from different backgrounds and experiences. We can only better understand one another when we are able to hear the other person’s story, feel their pain, and know their confusion without judging. We cannot know what it may be like to live in someone else’s shoes unless we care enough to listen and understand. My perspective is not the only perspective. I feel that it is wise to know the more perspectives I can be aware of, the more self awareness, situational awareness, emotional intelligence, understanding, and love i can hold and express. This is how true change is facilitated. This is where healing begins. This requires an attitude that says, “Let me see the world from behind your eyes. Let me see the world from where you stand, through your experiences, from your past, from your pain.”
I am asking you to be self-aware. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, short of breath, racing heart, overheated, dizzy, or just that you can’t listen any more, take a deep breath… and then take another. Cry if you need to. Hug someone you know if you need to, and remember that we all showed up today because we heard the cry that was sent out, “We need to talk about what is happening because we are not ok with it and things need to change.” So, here we are. Don’t allow the discomfort to push you away. Maintain your courage. Hold your position as a valuable part of the change that is taking place right here and right now AND the hope that gives our future.
This is not a debate. This is not about arguments. This is not a protest. This is a real conversation for the sake of healing that begins at the grassroot level of friends and family; where community transformation can take place and spread. We need healing. Healing takes place through honesty. Honesty requires willing communicators and willing listeners. We need the truth and honesty.
The current state of things seems to say “black lives do not matter.” IF we protest, I feel it should look like the most peaceful group of people, who are willing to die for what is true- what is honest and wholesome in this world: that life matters. That means, the injustice that happens to one of us happens to all of us. That means we should be looking at one another and saying, “You matter.” But that is not the legacy of the United States and we carry the trauma of what we have done, what’s been done to African-Americans, and what we have allowed to go unspoken.
So in order to heal we need the truth, honesty, communication, and listening that is purposefully engaged in order to understand what is being communicated. All of this is a matter of the heart. I must warn you, healing means things have to change. We cannot have the discussion and then say, “Oh, I understand you so much better now.”, and then keep doing the same things, speaking in the same ways, and allowing the same systems to perpetuate.
I was curious about the word “race”, so I looked it up.
- A group of people identified as distinct from other groups because of supposed physical or genetic traits shared by the group. Most biologists and anthropologists do not recognize race as a biologically valid classification, in part because there is more genetic variation within groups than between them.
The first thing that caught my attention was the word “supposed”.
- Presumed to be true or real without conclusive evidence.
So, to clarify, the word “race” means a group of people identified as distinct from other groups because of physical or genetic traits shared by the group that are presumed to be true or real without conclusive evidence. Furthermore, Most biologists and anthropologists do not recognize race as a biologically valid classification, in part because there is more genetic variation within groups than between them.
We use the words “black” and “white”. Let’s take a look at their definitions.
- The achromatic color of maximum lightness; the color of objects that reflect nearly all light of all visible wavelengths; the complement or antagonist of black, the other extreme of the neutral gray series. Although typically a response to maximum stimulation of the retina, the perception of white appears always to depend on contrast.
- One who opposes and contends against another; an adversary.
- intransitive verb
- To set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences.
So, by definition, for our social context, “white” is the adversary of “black”. The two are in opposition in order to show or emphasize extreme differences. Now, if you were wondering the word “black” means:
- Being of the color black, producing or reflecting comparatively little light and having no predominant hue.
- Having little or no light.
So, white has all the light and black has little or none. Do I need to explain the implications of this? This is how we use these terms “white” and “black” in our culture. These words only possess the power that our cultural environment gives them. No one here is actually black or white in color. Therefore, these definitions do not apply to the one true race: humanity.
Since some of us have more or less melanin than others, we are a mix of browns from very dark to very light. “Black” and “white” says nothing of who we are in reality; it speaks of our misguided attachments to false imaginations of one another that were bred out of elitism, hatred, and fear. This is good information for us to realize because it shows us that we need to set ourselves free from the ongoing trauma of a painful history.
The lie about the “black race” and the “white race” began somewhere, but I’ll leave that for your own research.
Now, we can see even the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is built upon the idea that such a thing as “black” lives exist. We have been led to believe you either have a “white” life, and according to the definitions we just read, that means full of light, insinuating goodness, perhaps value… or you have a “black” life which insinuates little light, little goodness, or value. Could anything be more divisive or more ridiculous? We must know something is wrong when we start giving colors to life but can’t decide if it’s about skin color or something else: “Blue Lives Matter.” Who is making this stuff up? If you care about humanity as the singular race that it is, perhaps you should say, “All humans matter.” … Somewhere in this search for values we find that somehow, someway, some people are worth more than others. We even call some people, “white trash”. All I hear are tools of division, hatred, and fear.
When will we stop playing this game? We are living this experience called life. Labeling life according to the color of a person’s skin, which, don’t’ forget, is a lie, is completely ridiculous. Labeling life according to a group’s uniform color is just as sad. Categorizing human lives causes division, division leads to resentment, to opposition, to fears, lies, and perpetuated injustices against the perceived threat. It is all a man made illusion. Who started all of this?
I have seen people of other ethnicities speaking out or taking a stand on the side of “black lives matter”. I do understand and appreciate the sentiment that comes out of this movement to highlight a very serious issue. As could be considered usual, politics would like us to choose being one side or the other, “white or “black”, “cops or rioters”, “republican or democrat”, “left or right”, “this team or that team”- and you can see how division rules our collective mindset when the question becomes, “What team are you on?”
Imagine the confusion of a young European American or Caucasian child in the early 1900s. They read a sign that says “No Coloreds Allowed,” and think,”But, white is a color too.” What happens then? They ask their parents, of course, and the narrative of division continues. The emotional energy of how that parent reacts to the question is stored in that child until they learn, if ever, that they were conditioned to think the way they think.
Humans are not born racists. Racism is taught. Racism is learned and self hatred is part of the teaching when your history books make it seem as if people of your “color” contributed nothing to the world and aren’t worth being acknowledged for the sacrifices they were forced to make. This is the experience of the African American child.
Modern sciences of the past 30-50 years have proven cooperation in nature, not competition. Humanity must consciously realize we are part of nature, which also means one with a unified experience we call life. When we realize who we are, our illusions, and fears will disappear. The philosophy of “survival of the strongest” or “survival of the fittest” is a savage, fearful way of thinking that has led to the demoralization of far too many people.
Gregg Braden in his new book, “The Wisdom Codes” says, “The best science of the 21st-century now tells us [survival of the strongest is not true]. New discoveries in biology, as well as other life sciences, now revealed that cooperation, not competition, is the fundamental rule of nature.”
Injustices against dark skin humans or any human is to act inhumanely. Our prejudices and biases are based in utter nonsense and make us enemies of life itself. That would ultimately mean we are working against our own selves when we mistreat one anothers and we are acting under the false premise that we are “looking out for ourselves”.
So, I repeat, healing the past begins with truth. Truth requires honesty. Honesty requires responsibility (the ability to respond, rather than the ability to react). Honesty requires that we examine things we may be very uncomfortable acknowledging. This is the path to freedom. It is the truth that will set us free. Our world needs the truth because our world needs freedom. Freedom is the birthright of every human, by nature.
That we even have separated the words “birth” and “right” is indicative of our human struggle. We spend our time discussing “rights” and have forgotten that freedom of human consciousness, self-will and determination is inherent to each one of us. Freedom is our very nature. If freedom is our nature, and the truth sets us free, then knowing the truth and being courageous in the face of discomfort and injustice, is a large part of why we are here. That we have allowed people to govern us who make “rights” a questionable thing also shows how well we have swallowed the lie of “division”. It shows how silent we have been and silence has been the status quo for far too long on this planet and in this nation. Perhaps we should be discussing “values” not “rights”. When we discuss values we are forced to take responsibility and we will likely realize we all value the same things. The issue of “rights” can easily become someone else’s problem but what I value is mine to own. What we value as a people is ours to own and be responsible for.
Maybe you heard the comment Joe Biden made a couple weeks ago that, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” That is an example of what has been called “white privilege”. Because you are a politician, or in the spotlight as a “white” male, does not mean it’s ok for you to define groups of people for your agenda, but it happens all the time. What I see is another political tactic to cause division. Martin Luther King said, “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”
The phrase “law and order” has taken the place of “freedom”, which is another way to divert our attention from what really matters which I think is “birthright” as humans and our values. America is supposed to be the “land of the free and home of the brave”. Could the level of hypocrisy, illusion, and self-delusion be any more evident in this country and it’s “American Dream”. There can be no true “law and order” where lies, political control, and cowardice exist and I think that it is so because the people can feel the hypocrisy, the deceit, the silence, and the increasing self-hatred we have because of what we’ve allowed ourselves to become.
Ok, deep breath…..
None of what I am about to share is meant to shame or guilt anyone. This is our history. All of us. It is uncomfortable and it is painful. Do not feel guilt unless you are guilty. Do not feel shame unless you are ashamed. But the point is not to stay in guilt and shame. The point is to heal them both. Remember, we need the truth and the courage to face the truth, so we can begin the process of healing.
So, Who funded those ships that left Europe headed for West Africa and the Americas? What led to that decision was humans not taking responsibility, one small injustice at a time and maybe that’s part of the problem…. you see, I said “small” injustice, like a “white” lie. The kind of lie that is ok because it’s “white”- harmless, unlike a “black” cat or “black” plague or “black” sheep or “black” magic. When humans stop taking responsibility for even the smallest of injustices it leads to the unfolding of atrocities.
Injustice. The colonists stole these lands and today we celebrate it as Thanksgiving- a national holiday. It’s hard for me to believe that the Native American Indians were or ever have been thankful that the colonists came. Who’s really celebrating? How is that we, the people, swallow the turkey so easily? Every year we give our consent to injustice because the sentiment has become a norm that is more valued than the truth. When we give our consent by participating or being silent, we are supporting these injustices. I am bringing up Thanksgiving to point out how complicated and systemic these issues are- that injustice has been allowed to form this country from the very start and is still prevalent but masked and marketed. We say we want to fix things but we must realize it was broken from the start. None of it was healthy, wholesome, true, honorable, based in love. It was based in greed, hatred, murder, and the ones who were taken, stolen from, and killed were the “savages”.
In the early 1600s Africans were brought to the shores of the Americas. Imagine the horror of being forced to leave your homeland, on ships, shoulder to shoulder, head to foot, no bathrooms, the worst of food, sickness, and the terrororism of men treating you worse than animals. Imagine the suicidal tendencies because the injustice is so maddening that you’d rather die.
Imagine watching your family being taken from you; your brothers, sisters, mother, father, grandparents, cousins; your children- taken, beaten, forced to do terrible things. Imagine being able to do nothing except expect to be beaten close to death if you tried to do anything at all. Imagine your wife having the slave masters child. Imagine being that wife- her pain, her shame, her misery, her depression. Imagine the husband; he doesn’t know what to do or say. How can he help her? They are both trapped in this system of slavery. Imagine being born into this way of life and hearing stories of freedom, abundance, and the beauty of the western shores of Africa, but never having seen it for yourself. Imagine facing death all day long, as a possible reality at any moment for any reason and without any consequences for your murderer. Imagine this continuing for more than 200 years; generation after generation; Born into this social construct that is completely ingrained into the society. Can you feel the tension?
Some go along with it, not oblivious but comfortable. Others resist internally, knowing it’s wrong but are afraid of the consequences if they speak up, then some find the courage to resist and die or are never the same after they are beaten within an inch of dying as an on-going plantation marketing scheme. Even the slave owners feel the tension, most are comfortable, self-righteous, hateful, using God’s name as the “right” to continue their devilish ways. Others are afraid to speak up, but the system is already in place. What can they do, they wonder.
Some historians have estimated that 6 to 7 million enslaved people were imported to the New World during the 18th century. There was the rise of the Cotton Industry in 1793, an economic system completely dependent on slave labor. The same year the Fugitive Slave Act was passed by Congress, which made it a federal crime to assist an enslaved person trying to escape. The Civil War began in 1863. But the racist legacy of slavery would persist, movements of resistance would rise, including the Underground Railroad, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Selma to Montgomery March, and today, the Black Lives Matter movement. And all along this American history has been repeated injustices toward African-Americans, the KKK, murders, lynchings, burning homes, and the bombing of Black Wall Street in Oklahoma.
Try to imagine growing up in an era when your society tells you that you are not good enough and cannot eat at the same table or even use the same toilet or enter into the same buildings. Imagine signs that say, “No niggers, mexican, portorican, or dogs allowed.”
Imagine the fear and stress when the very people who are oppressing you are the people who are hired to “serve” the public as policemen with weapons; oppression by politicians, leaders of large organizations, and corporations. There is a lot not being taught about American history in schools and that makes it easy for these tragedies to continue. It makes it easy for history to repeat itself because the youth are not being educated with truth, they are being educated with a version of history that sugar coats and white-washes these events to make America look like the good team, and government the heroes.
What do you think 400 years of tragedy, and day-to-day cultural threat does to a people group? Imagine chronic stress and trauma built over 400 years.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an often-stigmatized and misunderstood mental well-being issue for people who have experienced trauma. The facts about PTSD state that you are most likely to develop PTSD if you:
- Were directly exposed to the trauma as a victim or a witness
- Were seriously hurt during the event
- Went through a trauma that was long-lasting or very severe
- Believed that you or a family member were in danger
- Had a severe reaction during the event, such as crying, shaking, vomiting or feeling apart from your surroundings
- Felt helpless during the trauma and were not able to help yourself or a loved one
- Had an earlier life-threatening event or trauma, such as being abused as a child
- Have little support from family and friends
- Have recently lost a loved one or undergone a stressful life change, especially if it was not expected
- Drink a lot of alcohol
- Are a woman
- Are poorly educated
- Are younger
The trauma and chronic stress of slavery, racism, and continued hatred injustice from generation to generation directed toward African-American has real biological, mental, emotional, and economic health affects. I would encourage you to do your own research on how 400 years of this threatens the entire well-being of this nation and the world. We are seeing some of the results in our streets today.
Ignorance grows as generations pass because there is still residual information that we have gathered from the culture: our parents, our families, and our peers, relating to “racial tension“ and certain prejudices that are involved, all compiled with a lack of true education. This means we have forgotten the facts of history while also having some level of awareness that a social problem exists, yet being uncomfortable with discussing it with people who look different than us or come from different backgrounds, which only proves we have a real problem. We make excuses to avoid the difficulty like, “It’s in the past. We’ve come a long way.” These are usually the comments of “white” privilege. Furthermore, as long as discussions are happening behind closed doors, in groups where everyone looks the same, and so share the same experiences, the healing we all need cannot occur.
From an abstract of a paper I found on the Cambridge.org website titled: Unreconstructed Democracy: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Case for Reparations
- LAWRIE BALFOUR (a1)
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055403000509
- Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 March 2003
- E. B. Du Bois’s observations about the links between Americans’ unwillingness to acknowledge the legacies of slavery and the shortcomings of formal equality in the post-Reconstruction era anticipate the obstacles to racial justice in the “post-civil rights” era. His study of the “splendid failure” of Reconstruction indicates how a kind of willful national amnesia prevented black citizens from enjoying, in fact, the freedom and equality they were guaranteed by law. Arguing that the story of racial injustice is still importantly a story about memory’s suppression…
Ok, deep breath….
Born Into the System
Through the nature and history of colonialism, “white” privilege is naturally a part of our systems. Decisions are made that reflect a largely unconscious bias. This means most European Americans are potentially clueless when “white” privilege is working in their favor.
There’s no way a young European-American boy can know he’s born into a cultural-context in which certain advantages are afforded to him that are not afforded to others. The same is true for young European-American girls.
There’s no way a young African-American boy can know he’s born into a cultural-context in which he must work harder than others and fit a certain mold in order to be given the same opportunities within that system that his European peers are naturally afforded. The same goes for young African-American girls.
The fear-inducing information we hear from our elders when we are children turn innocent young “whites“ and “blacks“ to fear-replicating whites and blacks who are supposed to become leaders of tomorrow. What I am saying is: parents, teachers, and elders.. you must help change the narrative. The narrative will not change unless we understand one another by discussing our painful history. Healing cannot take place until the privileged, can recognize privilege, can shut it down when given the opportunity, and can truly empathize with the pain and suffering that continues for those without the same privilege.
We’ve entered the season of shifting in which Life is clearly pointing to our self-delusion and the fact that things are not ok. All our busy-ness is getting nothing done that actually needs to be done. We need to change the climate of our connections to one another as human beings. Life gave us a major time out and it is clear that we are tired, upset, concerned, and angry about all of this. Until our idea of “economy” and “profit” is related to the organic emotional and physical benefit it brings to humanity, our systems will continue to replicate more of the same problems. What I’m saying is love has to become the reason and purpose behind our decisions.
Not one material thing that the “American Dream” has promised us are things we can actually keep. Our identity, our peace of mind, and our love is in no way actually tied to these things. It’s all a game that we didn’t create but we have made the rules of the game easy to enforce because we play along. And we are deluding ourselves. We call each other “white” and “black”, “upper class”, “low class”, “upper-middle class”, “educated”, “uneducated”, etc. We name one another and allow ourselves to be named but we are each more than all of that. I am more than a name and so are you. One line of a song from a favorite band of mine says, “The funny thing about a name is you forget what the reason you were playing the game is. It’s all an illusion. A 21st century institution.”
There’s a very delicate fade into this oblivion, a slow digression into a state of numbness where we are no longer amused and we are accustomed to bad news. There’s the slow build up of wax that occurs and we no longer realize we aren’t hearing or perceiving things correctly. We live this way because we don’t realize there’s a better way. No other options are given to us. This is the system we are given and now we are waking up. We need to express our pain, frustration, and anger with tears instead of violence. We need to realize the reality of self-medicating in times of tragedy. There are very healthy ways to do that and very unhealthy ways to do that.
Ok, deep breath….
EXPERIENCE & IMAGINE
I want to share some of my story and insights about being an American and about being what is called a “black” man in America. This may help us better understand the complexity of “white” privilege compared to what I will call “black” disadvantage.
Imagine you’re shopping for groceries or clothing, and turning around you see a store employee watching you. They look away quickly, and uncomfortably. They are not very good spies. Imagine that happening so many times that you find yourself avoiding going into stores.
Imagine wanting to go for a walk or a bike ride but having to consider what time of day it is and what you’re wearing, because your appearance may be perceived as a potential threat.
How about realizing you shouldn’t get too close to other people’s property so no one can say you were attempting to steal or vandalize, even if you did nothing at all.
Imagine you’re having a rough day and since you’re in the store or alone on a walk, you should at least smile because you don’t want others to be afraid of you.
Imagine the scars of falling in love with someone who comes from a different ethnic background than you and they have to leave you because their family says, “It’s not right to love someone of a different “race”. Imagine the trauma and resentment that builds when the racial issue is already so compounded as part of your life. It’s traumatic for the minority as well as the person who feels forced to leave BUT the person of “color” has that same wound reopened again in a new way.
Imagine being in a car accident in which you could have died. The State Trooper on the scene doesn’t ask if you’re ok or if you need anything but says, “You’d better be glad you didn’t hurt anyone else or I’d be taking you to jail.” That Trooper doesn’t realize your father was killed in a car accident by a “white” woman who was never prosecuted, she was clearly at fault. What does the fact that this was a “black” man in an affluent suburban area of Dallas, TX have to do with this issue? Imagine realizing that if you ever killed someone in a car accident, while looking down at the radio or air conditioner, as that woman claimed she was, you’d be in danger of be charged with “vehicular homicide” or “involuntary murder”.
I once worked with a man who thought joking about racism was acceptable. I was never angry at him about anything he said about African Americans. I told him he needed to shut up and that what he was saying wasn’t ok but it didn’t stop him. I was never violent though he threatened violence. I stood up to him for Natives, Mexicans, and women. I saw the frustration he invoked in others because he would jokingly say inappropriate things. If I countered his violent threats with violence who do you imagine would receive the greater punishment? Why should I even fear that it would be me? His European American peers often laughed along while gently insinuating that he should stop.
I have friends who allow me to get water from their well. I always ask before I go to fill up, even though they always say, “You don’t have to ask. Just come over at any time.” I recently had to explain, “I can’t just show up at your house when you’re not there. It could look like I’m snooping around and someone could call the cops. What would lead me to feel that way?
Love & Conclusion
The heart is the first place of change. Change is not easy. True change requires that we each find a way to work on ourselves individually and as a community so that we find our courage in true identity. If we say we want to change things, we must change ourselves. The systems and constructs I’ve discussed don’t change unless the humans maintaining them change. We must be willing to let go of things to which we have been attached and find our true values. Our attachments are based in the modern way of thinking and existing and we can see where that has led us. We cannot clearly see truth and the freedom it brings if we remain attached to the things that have kept hatred, division, inequality, and inequity in place.
If I change, if I become a better version of myself by seeking my own emotional healing and mental well-being, then I will better love myself and I can better love you and help you find your own emotional healing and mental well-being. I will be able to listen to your stories and empathize with your pain and we will heal, together, and all of us can then help change the systems that are in place so that they begin to reflect the love humans have found by engaging in the healing process. Until then, every system is still run by hurt and therefore harmful humans and nothing will change. We can talk all day about the problems but if true healing doesn’t occur, nothing changes. We are all part of the problem and we can all be part of the solution. We are bound together in this experience we call life, breathing the same air, watching the same sun, and moon pass and ignite.
We will leave THIS conversation and find many people who have not been so fortunate as us to be part of something like this. We will all hear the same divisive talking we’ve heard our whole life BUT, I hope, we will have the courage to speak to those issues with a new wisdom.