So, while I was steaming some vegetable and rice this afternoon, I happened to be hearing in the background a documentary by the name of “The Healing Passage“. I wasn’t even aware that this film was on but as I began to hear discussion about the middle passage, trauma and healing … my interest was piqued. I also attended a discussion and workshop on the Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome last year so, in reflecting on my personal experience, I was given further incentive to give a little look.
There are many pathways to healing. As a personal reference, my personal healing (naive?) from the wounds of historical and systematized racism had to do with having the “truth” pointed out to me and then going on a long rigorous journey of understanding, accepting and implementing this truth on a practical level in my day to day way of being. I will get to that truth in a moment but let me address a couple of things that came up for me in watching this documentary even briefly.
The wounds are deep. Those wounds have fractured communities in such a way where the abnormal amounts of violence, broken homes, drug abuse, etc. are attributed to the individuals and not the historical trauma. The documentary in question was able to portray this well. But, as a way of not getting long winded, the wounds have also created ways of healing that tend to exclude the wider community in which we live which can, in turn, create walls of separation that become antagonistic representations of the very wound itself. I believe that intra-communal healing is an important practice, for the fellowship and kinship can be quite therapeutic. Thus, I would never warn against such a practice. However, in addressing my naivete, I do have a few concerns.
Four years ago I wrote my master’s thesis. It was entitled, “Perceiving Oneness for Compassionate Action.” Basically, I did secondary research within Hua-Yen Buddhism, while also drawing from Ecopsychology and other spiritual traditions to portray the need to alter in how we perceive our relationships to each other on a human level and the land we walk on in order to move towards constructive healing as well as to act on the behalf of those individuals (and the earth), of whatever shade, who are being dealt blows of injustice.
Watching the little bit of the documentary that I did (I do intend on watching the whole thing, didn’t have time today) I became acutely aware of my naivete. We, as Americans, are all wounded by the history of racism in this country. Not only racism, but sexism, classism & heterosexism. The privileged and the underprivileged suffer from different sides of the same coin. We can save the details of this reality for a different discussion but what I’m trying to portray is … we as a culture must come together with intimate intentionality that will inevitably bring up all sorts of emotions/pain for all of us but will inevitably get us closer to the healing that is necessary for our psychosocial progression. Now, I realize that this idealistic, optimistic and deeply naive.
Many people with wounds that are marked by an oppressor versus oppressed mentality are not willing to reach outside of their wound (whether visible or invisible) to become intimate with “the other”. This is on so many levels, but when it comes to racism it gets as ugly as it can get because of the historical shiftiness of the subject. We as a culture have so many aversions to talking about race that in of itself is how deep the wound is. However, I do believe that spaces can be created where individuals can come together and be guided along in such a way where healing breakthroughs are possible. This is some of the work that I intend to do going forward professionally and academically and watching that documentary today I had a strong flash of insecure naivete that had me question the possibilities.
But … truth, oftentimes, is a lonesome road to travel.