Is anyone getting psychological assistance for that young 15 year-old girl who was literally (white) man handled in the video from the pool party in McKinney, TX over the weekend? Is anyone wondering what generational and psychic trauma that brought up in her young black girl body? And the trauma that it brings up in black girls and women across the world? I know that watching the video – which I finally made myself do today – hit a pain in me that was not physically my own, but pain of my ancestors and a generational memory of assault and rape of slavery.
As a social justice educator and researcher about internalized oppression, specifically racism, I work to stay aware of what is happening in the nation regarding race, justice, identity and power – but I also recognize that what I take in visually and aurally on a daily basis affects me emotionally and intellectually. And while we have continued to recognize the way the Black body is being physically assaulted and murdered century after century, I worry that we have not had such a good watch on the Black mind. Particularly, the pummeling that the Black Mind (and spirit) takes on a regular basis at the hands of media images, day to day racial macro and microaggressions and sometimes at the insidiousness of the racism that lives within after generations and generations of swallowing the hate in order to survive.
The young Black girl’s physical body indubitably will have sore muscles and bruises to heal, but what is the healing that has to take place in her soul and mind? Do we as a nation even know how to begin scratching the surface of that impact of that moment – and the constant reliving that occurs now that it has become a viral assault? I think sometimes as a nation of video watchers, we sometimes get caught up with the sensational - wanting to make sure the person who commits the atrocious action pay for what they did. Sometimes we forget that the emotional and spiritual impact on an individual, community or a people won’t necessarily be healed by the suspension or indictment of an officer, though the accountability for an action is important. I worry about our lack of ability to hold the psychological impact of these moments that are broadcast far, wide and often.
One of my favorite movies, The Matrix, says it best, “The body cannot live without the mind.” As we remember that Black lives matter – those lives consist of both body and mind. Emotional selves, intellectual selves and spiritual selves are being hurt in this racialized world that we’ve created, as well. And as we work to create a world that exists without racism, if we have not cared for and protected our emotional selves and the Black Mind, we will struggle to step into the power that has been rightfully ours this whole time.
I can remember while writing my dissertation, I would go to my favorite coffee house, Northampton Coffee every Sunday morning at 8 am and sit in the large glass window facing the early morning quiet street. I would order a chai tea latte, iced or steamed, depending on the season, and treat myself to a reading of the Sunday Styles in the New York Times before diving into the work of unearthing new knowledge and facing the inevitable struggles of writing a dissertation about internalized racism.
Sitting in that window, week after week, month after month, I pushed against old internalized patterns of fear, inadequacy, not being "black" enough, believing that so many others had much more, and wiser things to say than I did. I kept coming back, believing and telling myself that each movement, each intention that I set - just by even showing up some days - would get me closer to that goal of crossing that graduation stage.
Such has been the same with the accomplishing of this website and blog - surely the intention and showing up and writing has been there, but so have the old internalized fears, frustrations, inadequacies, and beliefs that so many others have much more and wiser things to say than I do. And a voice keeps pushing me to show up, anyway.
In fact it woke me up this morning at 4:30 am telling me to get up and write. Telling me to share the piece of information that was implanted in my soul to share with the world. Telling me to unselfishly offer the contribution that I was assigned - to take it and offer it the world. To forget the stories in my head, to forget my fear - and need for sleep - to forget those internalized thoughts, frustrations, and inadequacies.
And so here I am.
And that feels like authenticity to me. Recognizing that risk is not the balance to reward, but it is actually just the precursor to it. Our willingness to share ourselves, our gifts, our secret worries that we think no one cares about or has ever faced what we face will almost always be met with welcome by someone else. We just have to keep risking to show up authentically. Someone will come along and prove to us that we are not alone - and that connection, that building of community, will be the reward that we've been waiting for. The even greater reward will be the recognition that we are living into our full being - fear and all.
What is the contribution - not monetary, not material, not even time - but rather what is the contribution that lives in our very being that we are withholding and what's holding us back from offering it?
And so here I am - offering my contribution - willing to take the risk and believing in the reward - and knowing that the greater reward is already here.