BONDFIRES

A movement to eradicate racism together

My Journal

Reflections on Cultural Healing-Part 1 Resilience…

This has been the most difficult article that I have ever written for BONDFIRES!

I spent more than 2 months researching the impact of slavery on African-American people who included; reading books, searching the internet and talking to people. While there is a significant amount of information available on this topic, two challenges began to emerge as I explored the impact of slavery. First, most of the African-American people who I spoke to, were not familiar with PTSS. When I began to explain it, they seemed cautious and a long silence became a  consistent pattern in our dialogue.  It was a dis-heartening experience for me. I believed I had found answered to so many questions about my ancestry/heritage  and, it seemed like nobody wanted to go there with me. I kept searching. I was determined to find someone to dialogue with about PTSS. Tommy Miller an African-American Anti-racist trainer and activist, who stepped up and agreed to an interview. Tommy also helped me to interpret and  understand, what I labeled as “Luke-warm” reaction from my people.

Tommy highlighted the depth and magnitude of trauma on African-American people has impacted us with so many trauma symptoms and pain  that we try to push aside in order to keep going and focus on meeting our basic needs; food , shelter, paying our bills and day-to-day survival.  This pre-occupation with basic survival affords little opportunity to reflect on the past, or deal with the underlying trauma symptoms and emotional baggage of slavery. It is when we “take” time to educate ourselves and to pause, reflect on the impact of slavery and oppression that African-American people can grieve and mourn for our ancestors who paved the way for  us  to began to heal. Grieving, Tommy explained, is a significant step in healing.

I got it! I thought. On a cognitive level, this made sense. I am familiar with the stages of grieving and could relate this concept to past experiences when I have supported others (family members  neighbors and clients) through the grieving process. As I began to accept this information it was easier to feel more grounded and was able to format the article and prepare to finalize for publication. But,  as I returned to my writing, something unusual happened….

Tears began to  stream  from my eyes as I reflected on what it might have felt like to be kidnapped from your family …from where you felt you belonged. I wondered what it might be like to experience an iron yoke around my neck, chains on my wrist … my feet… being pushed and crowded into dark spaces… stagnant body heat. Tall ships with cramped, dark spaces… salt in my mouth… the musty smell of dead bodies…. hearing the splash of bodies thrown overboard, hyper-vigilance…the anxiety of wondering if  I would live or die… the laughter of my captors echoed around me rippling across the ocean to our new homeland far away…

Something deep within me compelled me to keep going. More tears flowed and my heart began to pound so hard in my chest that I had to take a break. I wiped my eyes and prepared my favorite snack. I couldn’t taste my food. I set it aside and returned to the Article. The enslavement of African-American people will NEVER happen again! I said to myself ! As I continued to  pushed through until  the article was finished, this  thought came to me…

The physical chains of are captors are gone forever!…Now the chains are in our minds and  our hearts instead!  

I turned my computer off  and thought about the road ahead. I am determined to never give up! There is so much to be done! I burst into tears…

I just sat down and cried!

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