I have explored the conversations of ‘race’, or rather conversations of ethnicity and history, and where I’ve come to is, I see the importance of the conversations and I ask myself, what’s next?
As a Black/Latina looking at history it is painful and terrifying that not too long ago in this country, simply for my skin color, I would have had no human rights. I would have been segregated to the bare minimum needed to survive and treated like an animal. I would have had dogs let loose on me, fire hoses against my body, watched black men and women being lynched simply for being black and standng for human rights. Their body parts cut off for souvenirs, often many of them tortured first or burned alive. When the cotton industry was not doing well the owners of the land took it out on the Black community and lynched. Knowing how the Democrat party fought so hard to keep the Black community from being treated as humans. How the Democratic party enforced ‘Black Codes’ which were past in 1865/1866 as retaliation to the Civil War created to restrict the freedom of the Black community and force low wage labor. These ‘codes’ were in place until 1868/1870 dispersed by the 14th and 15th Amendment. Though it wasn’t until the Civil Rights Movement that human rights of the Black communty began to make lasting changes.
In 1890 Ida B. Wells an American journalist stood up to the lynch mobs including standng up to the Suffragettes who were appealing to the KKK for support and in this supporting the lynchings. The first KKK was created in 1866 by confederate veterans in Tennessee. Ida B. Wells bravely stood up to them and traveled to Europe to bring awareness to what was happening in America. Ida B. Wells is a hero to me who was unabashed in supporting the Black community even when Suffragettes did all in their power to shut down her voice.
I’ve heard such callous projections as ‘Get over it’. Well, as human beings telling another human being who is present to pain to ‘get over it’ never works. All it does is shame and dissasociate from the person as a human being. It’s not about ‘getting over it’ it’s about transmutation of the pain that is present. Being present with it, feeling it, really allowing it and if needed reaching out to talk about it with someone who would be supportive. To me there absolutely is a healing needed in relation to this history, to all of history honestly. There are affects of slavery to this day in the black community. That’s not something a phrase as simplistic and cold as ‘get over it’ is going to change any time soon. I remember being in class when we were taught about slavery, when I saw the horror of the history of the black community, what the Civil Rights Movement had to endure and I was shocked. I was so shocked I couldn’t even talk to my white friends for a long time. I was processing all of what had happened. I felt angry, betrayed, even though they were innocent, they had done nothing to me. How could I feel anything other than that when faced with the brutality of what had been done to the black community? They would look at me with shame and wince as if to say they were sorry for what happened in history. It is an intense reality to process. No one helped us process this. I felt like I had the rug ripped out from underneath me. When we watched movies and videos about the holocaust I was devestated. Between Black history, the holocaust, I was shocked that humans could be so evil towards each other. History is important, raw and real, so that indeed it does not repeat itself with any ethnicity. I do believe it’s important to be able to support each other when being faced with the brutality of humanity. The reality is humans have done horrific things to each other, to the Black community, Jewish community, the Irish and Italian immigrants, the Native Americans, Latinos, the Asians, everyone has experienced deep horrors. I believe it is so important to heal the wounds of history, for all of us as there is not one ‘group’ of human being who has not been touched by violence and suffering.
What I am speaking to here in this article is the pain of the Black community. When someone says to me ‘You’re not picking cotton what are you so upset about’ that to me is such a grotesquery. I am not nor have ever been a slave, nor should I be ‘grateful’ for not being a slave today. Simply for being Black that does not mean I am predisposed to being a slave and therefore should be grateful I am not. I find that statement to be completely ignorant and a shaming tactic to put Black people ‘in their place’ as a reminder that we should be slaves. This is a phrase that has been spoken across ethnicities including people in the Black community. No. Do not address me as slave. I am a human, I am free. And I am very aware of history and the effects of the Black community. I can’t pretend that never happened. The people who say such things as ‘you’re not out picking cotton, get over it’, I do not hate them. I find it upsetting and I recognize it is an unconsicousness that I do not need to feed. Just as I am human, so are they. They have their pain, their view of the world that even though I do not understand, I don’t have to hate them or try and force listening where there isn’t. I don’t have to take it on either nor do I silence myself. I just find another focus where my voice will make the most difference and hopefully create a thread of unity even in the disparity.
I don’t believe in minimizing the pain of the Black community processing history. Especially since there are still conversations underlying in society that view Black as nefarious. And guess what? I also don’t have to take that nonsense on. I make stories such as ‘Black people are nefarious’ insignificant. I am sovereign and simply do not need to enroll myself in or take on any hurtful stories simply because they exist in society. There will always be hurtful stories in society. It’s just part of humanity at this time. I do not need to give it power. I do not need to believe in any hateful stories aimed at me as that is not who I am. The hateful stories are not even a reflection of those who spew them either. Pain begets pain. I just don’t have to wear it anymore.
What I do believe in is, it is time to heal the pains of history, support each other and continue to rise. The after affects of slavery are real. The Black community has come a long way and will continue to. To me that is inclusive of facing history and really feeling what is there and healing it. It’s time to break the cycle of pain. It’s time to bequeath the new generations of the Black community to be free from being bound to the pain of history. To be present with the pain if it comes up for them too and release it and grow. Not to forget history, but to let go of the shackles to the past once and for all.
Me personally, I am stepping out of the conversations of ‘race’. They are important and for me where I want to focus my energy and voice in relation to this is on poverty and the poverty line beginning with conversations of self love. To me some of the most important conversations are the conversations of self love, self worth, self care and self-nurture. These conversations can transform so much in every ethnic community especially those who are in poverty. Conversations can lead to fund raising, taking a look at inner city schools at homelessness and more. Supporting people raising from poverty level into success to me is the conversation and ACTION I want to focus on. I’m tired of the yelling and virtue signaling and celebrities saying they are standing for the Black community and yet leaving everyone across the board with nothing but wounding. Stirring up history with no conversations of healing, just to stir it up to rip at wounds and leave the Black community raw and hurting. Celebrities just ripping at wounds to fit an egoic personal agenda or some unconscious game of ‘savior’. Just riling up pain to drive campaigns of division and hate. No. That’s not what the Black community needs. We need healing and focus. Putting that energy towards what actually supports the Black community.
For me focusing on the conversations of how to alleviate poverty support the Black and Latino communities as well as all ethnicites touched by poverty, Asian, White, Native American, Latino, everyone. I am a New Yorker and here in New York City every day I walk past people who are starving on the streets. Starvation knows no ethnicity, no age, no gender. We can all unite to make a permanent difference in America. Our homeless are starving to death slowly in the streets. It’s a prolonged torture, a slow death. I walk by Black men, Black women, Latinos, White men and women, pregnant women, Veterans. Our veterans who fought for our freedom, are on our streets! Human beings laying on the pavement braving all matters of weather, begging, BEGGING for a scrap of food. It is physically painful for me. Every single time. To walk by my fellow human laying on the streets, squishing themselves onto a small step to cover at least a small part of their body from the rain, it is painful. This is not normal yet we have normalized it. People starving in America is not normal. I do believe that people deeply care about this issue yet can feel at a loss or helpless to make a difference. We need each other. We need each other’s ingenuity, each others passion, each others brilliance, each others hearts. Of all the differences we have, political, religious, historic, whatever the differences are I ask myself, where is the common thread? I support everyone’s voice out there speaking their passion regardless of what you believe, whether I believe in it or not, whether it triggers me or not, I support your voice and passion. Everyone getting clear on what we DISagree with I believe is necessary alchemy for us to be clear on yes, our disagreement and I don’t believe it ends there. I believe in the clarity of our disagreement is where we find the clarity of our agreement. Not absolute agreement, just one thread. A common thread that unites us. In the midst of all of the debates, I believe we also find our common ground.
What if we didn’t need catastrophe to remind us? When catastrophe hits we put our differences aside and consciously and lovingly co-create. People naturally want to come together. We already are together, really. We are on this planet together. All of us born on this same earth.
I believe we can make a lasting difference in the communities stricken by poverty and in our homeless on our streets as well as support the middle class on the poverty line from crossing over. I believe it is an action that unites all ethnicities, all genders, all ages, and all economic levels. I believe we can do this. How? When? Where? I do not know yet. I don’t share it as a pressure to act out of panic and self neglect, rather as an opening to conversations and actions rooted in self care first. And I open to the infinite possibilities when I speak to you my fellow human being and do not shut you out because you look or think differently or because you challenge my set ways of being. I stay open to the possibility of lasting difference in this country and in this world by taking the time to self care, hold myself in the love I am, know myself as worthy and remember the innocence in me and the innocence in the people of this world. I believe in humanity and all the love and beauty and determination human beings are in being and in action.
I believe everything, all possibility, begins in my own healing, my own self love, self tenderness, the cultivation of my joy, inner peace, relaxation, health. It all begins in me. I can only meet you with the generosity I give to myself. If I am a miser to me, I will be a miser to you. I believe in generosity of spirit and I know that begins in me. I believe every human being holds a piece to a very important bigger puzzle, bigger than me, bigger than my identity. I don’t make our powerful differences wrong as a whole, as a matter of fact I believe that’s a piece to the puzzle too. Even if I as an individual have my own strong opinions politically, socially, etc and make certain conversations wrong, when I take myself out of it, pull back and look at all of the conversations, I do get the importance and value of opposing views. I belive it is opposition that keeps me honest. Without any opposing views, I would be concerned I had found myself in an echo chamber. As I have said, I do believe finding clarity of disagreement leads to finding a common thread amongst each topic of disagreement and perhaps even across the board. I believe lasting action isn’t birthed from anxiety but rather from the most powerful and radical activism I know- self love.
Anything is possible. I really do believe so. Starting with the call to my inner journey. Starting with how I view and treat myself. Starting with holding myself as precious. Starting with my own heart.
Attached meme created by unknown.