Monday, September 18, 2017

A reflection on how we view "Darkness"

From Sandy Holman with Love

James Baldwin once said: “The story of the Negro in America, is the story of America and it is not a pretty story.”  He also said, “ Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it is faced.” 
I supped with these words as I reflected on Juneteenth, an equity gathering, a institute I attended, and after watching a documentary called, “ I am not your negro.”   All four events, set against the context of current happenings in this country and the world, bolted me into that powerful, yet lonely, abyss where acquired knowledge, painful life experiences, ancestral wisdom, and the lessons fromliving elders make me see into what I call the “fourth dimension.”  The fourth dimension represents our fractured way of living as a country.  People, on one side of the fracture, and due to their self imposed isolation and lack of cultural edification, do not have to see the historical, systemic, politically sanctioned and insidious practices, which have hurt, harmed and killed darker skinned people, and “those other different beings that exist in our world.” Things seem fair to an extent, just, patriotic and dependent on how hard you work.  All you have to do is pull yourself up by your “boot straps” embrace the America way and support core values for living.   The police, our criminal justice system, and every institution are here to support our way of life if you just follow the rules. In essence, the credo is “We all have the same opportunities and the color of you skin, how you look, or where you come from does not really matter.”  Of course, one outcome of the “fracture” is that this sentiment allows people to live in an altered state of reality, where their reality is not real for many other people. In fact, it is a nightmare where horrendous things happen on a regular basis based on the color of ones skin.   Those on the other side of the fracture, who are often people of color living in isolated, toxic, environmentally treacherous and inequitable historically designed cesspools, where the social determinants for healthy living are null and void, know another truth.  This truth is often tragic.  They do not have adequate housing, quality education, health care, healthy food, clean water, political representation, access to voting (voter suppression abounds), safety and chances for economic advancement. These families are often poor due to generational and historic oppression, discrimination and inequity, which are so structured in all our major institutions, and so disguised that it makes it incredibly easy to blame targeted groups who are suffering immensely.  Darker skinned people are more likely to be discriminated against, arrested, profiled, targeted and left to survive in conditions that would negatively impact anyone who lived in those spaces, yet we blame them for their situation. The fact that many make the best of their situations and thrive any way is a testament totheir personal strength and not to the will of a country to make things better for all.   Often, we do not even think about “those” people except when we are being mentally conditioned to despise, distrust, and devalue their existence as we watch them on the news or on TVshows. In the media, they are mostly portrayed as criminals, terrorists, gang bangers and any other thing that has contributed to masses of people viewing “darkness” as something bad and to be feared. This fear of dark skin has become a pavlovian response in the psyche and over time has caused many not to value dark lives or to become numb even when we see people unjustly murdered on avideo clip.  Of course, what is happening is much more complicated than what I am sharing, yet on many levels it is not. Black lives and darker skin people do not matter to tons of people at the unconscious level since we have been conditioned, in a variety of ways, to see dark skin as bad. This mental malaise plays out at the conscious level and has had deadly results and emboldened hate to epic levels.  The denial of the fact that we are conditioned to view “darkness “ as bad, scary, dangerous and less than, hinders our ability to come up with true solutions. If we do not open our eyes and our hearts and truly see what is happening, we cannot address the massive inequities we are seeing which are based on an entrenched, powerful, and unyielding racism, which has cost millions of lives over the centuries.  Include all the other isms we need to address and you can begin to understand the nefarious state of affairs around the world and what we are up against. Mentally, people have created a world that shields them from the horrid experiences of others and allows people to be manipulated by their fears and feel comfortable in their inaction. This is a dangerous state of affairs for everyone in the end.
Many who do care, have become overwhelmed in the frequency of which unjust tragedies are happening. To take it all in at deep levels consistently would make you literally lose your mind and we cannot afford to let this happen either.  Hence, knowing so much evil is happening, I shield my soul from watching constant atrocities and work hard to change the destructive, systemic paradigm we find ourselves living in.  I earnestly believe that when we are truly ready to look at the elephant in the room and face Racism in profound and life altering ways, we may have a chance to embrace our commonhumanity and equity for all.  Until we do, we will always live in a “fracture” and in an altered state where so many are affected adversely.  As we ponder the power of love, consciousness, action, and justice for all, I hope we step into each other’s world and change the trajectory of our futures. I hope we choose to see and address realities. Peace and love…………

Sandy Holman,
Director of The Culture C.O.-O.P.

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