One of 9 Steps to Disrupt the Health Effects of Systemic Racism
Let’s start by talking about AMERICA - first, the word America. Then we can talk about the country AMERICA.
This word and country are the backdrop and context for Step 2 of the 9 Steps to Disrupt the Health Effects of Racism. That step is to - Unravel Messages of Self-Hatred.
If you take the letters A-M-E-R-I-C-A and re-arrange them, you get the anagram “I AM RACE.”
From science we know that RACE does not exist. It is a social construct. A form of propaganda. However, since it is the narrative that defines AMERICA, it’s impact has real, tangible consequences.
RACE has been used to divide And partition society on many consequential levels, including social, political and economic. And this idea of Race has embedded within it seeds of hatred and self-hatred for the Black Body. Racism is a sickness of the heart. It is a division of the heart.
I love the quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates from Between the World and Me - They made us a race and we made ourselves a people.
Throughout history, the Black Body has endured so much brutal pain and oppression in this country and many other places around the world. That it goes without saying that messages of hatred and self-hatred have had an impact on African Americans. For Baby Boomers, as children, we didn’t see ourselves depicted other than as caricatures. The standard of beauty was white and the closer one could get to that the better. The strategy of divide and conquer has been employed for centuries, so often we even began to look at ourselves and one another through the lens of white America.
I would submit that the notion of self-hatred applies to all people of all ethnicities. Any time one's identity is established and/or enhanced as "superior" to others, be willing to look deeper to see how you really feel about yourself.
Identify the messages of self-hatred that are embedded in systemic racial oppression. Be willing to look within to see if we have internalized messages of being “less than.” These messages come in many disguises, including feelings that you are unworthy, undesirable, unlovable, lazy, incapable, criminal, untrustworthy, ignorant, and simply not belonging.
Internalized racism can also show up as disliking your physical features — nose too big, hair too kinky, skin too dark , and so on.
I was recently looking in the skin care section of a drug store chain and was shocked to find 3 rows of skin bleaching or skin lightening products. It was ARTRA Skin Lightener when I was growing up. I wondered who buys these products in the year 2021?
If you "never" date folks who look like you. I would suggest that you may have some inner reflection to do... regarding internalized self-hatred. If you sell drugs to your community, or engage in physical or emotional violence towards your spouse, family members, community - internalized self hatred. By selling drugs, you are the instrument for the annihilation of black folks. The using mental, emotional, or physical violence, you are the one carrying out the directive of the slave holders to harm your people.
To some degree, we all hold Internal hurt and internalized hatred. It is not an easy thing to see or accept. However, failure to do so is to miss a healing opportunity.
When you practice meditation, you are beginning the process of quieting the mind. Creating a safe place to hangout internally. So much of what we think and feel is taking place in the subconscious mind hidden deep below the surface.
In a way the practice of meditation is like strengthening our capacity to do deep inner work on those programs that are buried deep within us. We witnesss the mind so we can go beyond it.
Meditation also gives us a respite from the constant suffering associated with living while black in AMERICA.
In meditation we increase our capacity to be more present and loving. And that starts with being more loving towards ourselves. We don’t have to judge ourselves about having these feelings, the invitation is to become aware, be willing to see.
We are shedding light - the light of our attention and awareness - on the programming buried deep and sometimes not so deep, inside of us.
The great American experiment was premised on promoting the superiority of one group over others, while diminishing the humanity of every one else. Our individual and collective responsibility is to unravel all of the conditioning and programming that keeps us in bondage.
Like Michael Jackson said...”starting with the man in the mirror." I’ll add that this applies to the woman or non-binary individual as well. All life is sacred. Let's begin with this realization.
~ Gwendolyn Mitchell