We Do Not Because We Know Not

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No one will ever heal our community for us.
The challenges faced by the African American community are a direct result of slavery, but no one cares to even examine, much less, feel responsible for slavery. They simply do not care. Complaining, waiting for, or even wanting help from outside our community has proven to be unproductive. Our challenges and our wounds are ours alone to heal.

We do not even know why we do the wacky, self-destructive things that we do. Because we have never dissected the realities of American slavery, we cannot connect the dots from the culture of slavery to our negative conduct. We don’t realize that most of our self-destructive behaviors today are simply the negative mental legacies of slavery.

The Root Cause. Our self-destructive soul food diet was once all we had to eat—but not today. We once beat our children to stop them in an instant from offending a white person who could make them the next Emmitt Till—but not today. We awaited birth wondering whose sperm impregnated our beloved. We once hated the child and took it out on them—but there is no need for this today. It was once foolish to encourage our children to excel academically—but not today. It was once foolish to expect to excel in a profession—but not today. There was no shame in having been to prison when the charge was vagrancy (simply not having a job)—but not today.
Rage created by others could once only be unleashed on one another—but not today. Papa was a rolling stone, and marriage and fatherhood were hollow when any white person could take your wife or child at any time—but not today. One exhibiting a poor work ethic was once a brave prince of our community—but not today.

Today, these and other self-destructive behaviors are simply the negative mental legacies of slavery. These behaviors once made perfect sense as they were absolutely necessary to survive the horrific 200+ year ordeal of American slavery. Today, they are destructive to self and community, yet we continue to unconsciously embrace them because we have never meticulously examined, boldly confronted, nor bravely dissected the culture of slavery.

Thus, today we cannot connect the dots because we are severely disconnected from our still defining experience—slavery.

Lifting The Burden. No one can heal from trauma without talking about it. By locking it in a dark closet and never speaking of it, we don’t shield future generations of its impact. Instead, the culture—dictated by the trauma—continues without future generations even knowing from whence they came. Being unaware, the negative mental legacies of slavery can interact with contemporary American culture, causing new negative mutations like those that bemoan today’s elders. In this way, what was once tolerable becomes worse as we become warped personifications of ourselves.

Rather, today’s science tells us that the only way to productively heal from trauma is to consciously and explicitly confront it—verbally and mentally. By this process, the trauma and its resulting behavior are lessened. Its negative hold on us is broken, and we can begin the process of healing.

The Beauty Of Our Situation. While our contemporary negative behaviors strike unconscious and self-inflicted wounds, this is also the beauty and the promise of our situation; we can immediately begin to release ourselves from the negative impact the moment that we become aware of it. Released from this burden, we can consciously choose an alternative path which establishes our empowerment as our agenda, goal, mission, and vision.

We Have The Power. The power of a single individual—focused and inspired to achieve something positive—is simply incredible. Think about it, everyone who we truly admire from our history was simply a focused and inspired individual—just like you too can be. When just a few focused and inspired individuals come together, you have what I call a “Margaret Mead” group. For Margaret Mead said it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

When the masses support a “Margaret Mead” group, life as we know it changes in powerful and magnificent ways. Take for example the abolitionist movement, the ending of child labor, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, the labor union movement, the voting rights, and civil rights acts. Consider the success of other immigrant groups which mutually aid one another to rapidly and dramatically improve their condition in America. Not being saddled with negative mental legacies of slavery, they act as their own best friends and family, rather than, as their own worst enemy.

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