I have continued with the theme of Internalised Racism offering a personal insight of how I recognise what it looks and feels like with this blog.
Miss Hit What is missed by projecting outward on to others, what we cannot stomach? We could benefit from further understanding ourselves. This point Dr Dwight Turner invites us to spend time with. Projective Identification (P. I. ) is a self protecting act, but the act cannot fully protect the persons who expel what they cannot tolerate in themselves onto others.
It creates in the object projected upon, a sense of fear and loathing. Deficits of self-worth, self-esteem, anxiety and low mood. Manifestations of the disdain are re-presented by the subjected upon persons internally/interiorly and to others who resemble or behave in similar ways to them.
Here my attempt is to match P.I. and Internalised Racism as cousins. In essence those who are treated by a nationally sanctioned power structure; unkindly, unfairly, with prejudice, do not have the power to represent their hurt to those who hurt them. The hurt people observe the hurt in themselves internalise it and project this hurt on to others who appear similar to them. Both Zed and Daniel offer useful interpretations in last week’s post.
Division An early experience I can remember that woke me up to what internalized racism is was being bullied at primary school by two Caribbean girls. I can’t exactly remember what these 2 girls repeatedly said to me. Something like ‘Smelly little African boy’. The resemblance was of a hatred that was borne as a result of my father – African. His genes a part of mine. This an undeniable truth. I could not make sense of their disowning of our joint cultural heritage and obvious visible similarity. My skin – brown like theirs. My mum was from the Caribbean too, so were we not the same? Not to them.
Power Over This experience of internalised racism was one I could not comprehend at the age of 6. The bullies dislike was a felt sense of wrongness. Mine. Possibly theirs too. I assume (now), that these two sisters felt a sense of power and a feeling of entitlement.
Brené Brown discusses the concept of power over, as opposed to power with, or power amongst. The Caribbean for me was well represented amongst my friends. Culturally, London and the UK of the late 70’s to mid 80’s, Caribbean influence was acknowledged and appeared valued.
Music, Slang, Fashion all influenced by children of migrants from the Caribbean. Bob Marley and other reggae stars were regularly heard on stereo systems across the estate I lived on. My world – Tottenham High Road and Wood Green felt like mini slices of Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, St Kitts, Dominica, the Grenadines. The homes we visited, the shops and grocery stores, the foods we ate were of mostly Caribbean and West African flavour and influence.
Norf My awareness of racial and cultural understandings arrived late, like the 243 bus to Wood Green , or the 321 to Seven Sisters. The raising awareness job is a lifelong one, but peaked when I moved out of London to Cambridgeshire in the mid 80’s. The North London Estate I grew up on was filled with newly arrived immigrants from a great collection of African, Caribbean, Asian and European countries. These two girls would sneer at me whenever our paths crossed at school or on the estate. They, whispering to each other and cutting their eyes in my direction as if their waspish looks could make me disappear. Their disapproval didn’t make sense to me but left an invisible mark. That of being disliked by others for a seemingly senseless and unknown reason. I became distrustful of persons who cast unkind and disparaging looks my way.
Resources Ursula Rucker performs Innocence Lost. The line that stands out is missed hit. The resonance is palpable as this poet intones an all too familiar story. The Roots woke me up to the power in poetry. Hana and Leila discuss in detail the insults that are thrown back and forth between Africans and African Americans. I thank Kimberly Cato of True Roots who passed on the Halton Voices video. Sameera discusses with guests what Internalised Racism is. The Stoop You Called Me African What? Diverse Perspectives conversations with Sameera Ali, Leena Sharma Seth, Mifrah Abid
I continue reviewing the concept of Internalised Racism in this post.
Closed The True Roots conversation on the 30th of June was a closed group for Black and Brown (Racialised) people to hold an open, challenging and affirming conversation. With members from White communities barred, the freedom to share difficult experience with others unburdened double consciousness. Links to current and past personal histories were made. Unfettered – the conversations were like a surge of blood to an unseen unnoticed wound. Members who attended discussed their understanding of Internalised Racism. Part of the discussions observed what has been the learning in relation to ourselves and about the societies we live amongst.
So We Dare Having written a little about group the idea of being amongst a closed experience felt risqué and yet also necessary. Inclusivity is undoubtedly an ideal to be achieved. Perhaps once Racialized communities recognise their needs for active participation in healing, liberating from outdated and ill fitting, ideas can begin. Exclusive meetings held amongst communities that are representative of diasporic Africans, Asians, Indigenous communities and LatinX communities are often framed as anti-White. Generally, these encounters are experienced as spaces for important idea generation, healing and application. The focus is on uplift. The experience of being amongst the True Roots online space felt unapologetic. Panelists and guests offered clear resourced and relative experiences about their growing understanding of what is lost by trying to acclimatise to societies that are structurally racist.
Abdicating Responsibility The UK, Canada and the US deny and work to hold on to the outcomes of Colonial pasts and historic abuses against Black and Brown bodies. Claiming each country’s sovereignty and superiority over former and existing colonies. European settler behaviours have largely bestowed power upon European descendants and centred on greed gaining wealth. I would argue that centuries of war, genocide, trauma, and vilification of others has left a fetid festering wound amongst the planet. Calling all to attention, yet only a few hear the Earth’s cries. Fewer still tirelessly wrestle to create change that invites resuscitation or better regeneration.
Resources Ms Xaba offers a number of personal stories of coming to realise the impact of the invisible marks left by apartheid. I recognise myself in the Ghana experience. Making self small, with the idea of perceived threat. Choosing to leave, before being told to. Daniel shares his realisation of Internalised racism and the connection to misogyny. His story takes him from the US to Jordan where he learns to understand himself anew. Internalised Oppression by Zed Xaba Internalised Racism and Misogyny by Daniel Juweid
Hidden by same race or similar cultural groups. Could be experienced as lateral violence. I will do my best to explore both terms and offer a few resources that look at the expriences of internalised racism in blogs to follow.
Internalised Racism Definition The upholding of a system such as White supremacy by racialized groups both unconsciously and consciously. It looks like in racial group dislike or hatred of peoples from similar racial backgrounds. looking to confirm one group being better than another group. It is Shadism/Colourism, Poor v Rich, Educated against Undereducated, Gender, Age, Sexual preference, Religious affiliation and denomination against other faiths and beliefs. Many of these points of sameness difference and otherness are well addressed by the book Mockingbird.
Group Discussion I was asked what my thoughts were in relation to internalized racism by Kimberley Cato. This question posed for the last group discussion for True Roots of the season. My thoughts on internalised racism in late May 2021 weren’t fully formed. Reading ‘Intersections Of Privilege And Otherness’ helped to begin formulating my understanding. I will share below what Dr Dwight Turner writes because it offers an understanding that is useful to how my mind has been able to make use of these earlier incisions to character development. I recognise that a discussion on this topic can be a sensitive experience to engage with. I will offer my experience as a base board from which to move beyond in later pieces of writing.
Resources Explained Jabari discusses his growing into an awareness of internalised racism in an accessible and personable way. Farah Nasser discusses with University of Toronto professor Girish Daswani, and communications professional, Gelek Badheytsang about internalized racism. The conversation highlights some of what the True Roots conversation spent time; evaluating, rueing and laughing at. What I enjoyed from the Living Colour interview was the unequivocal idea that internalised racism can be changed.
In this post I am reviewing the experience of difficulty and the danger of being in group.
Good Enough My initial training as a counsellor at Morley College in 2006 was my first-hand experience of group. The teacher Ian Mendelberg was the tutor whose warm guidance offered everyone on the course a sense of what being a counsellor looked and felt like. Ian challenged, heard, listened, appeared unendingly wise and somewhat of a humoured story-teller. A bit like Dr Ezra in Group, or how I imagine Irv Yalom to be in treatment groups. Intelligent, patient, resourceful and poignant with insights that arrest as much as they inform.
Follow Up The 2nd therapy group experience had, was the experiential group. First year of the MSc programme at University of Greenwich. I joined a year after finishing the Morley introduction course. The experiential group was a new yet familiar experience. Similar in essence to the YouTube show Group mentioned above. Fellow students, I and a facilitator would talk about our experiences with the course. The blend of our learning and our personal lives alongside how we were inadvertently becoming more consciously aware of the counsellor waking up in us, were frequent topics of discussion. The discussion was the object we pulled and played with. It was neither mine nor theirs. This object was the groups and seemed to change in form, and colour and vitality when members were not present.
Not Group Therapy The Experiential group was like group therapy but not. The facilitator generally offered observations of the group process as if they hung from the ceiling. Aloft. Looking down from their elevated experienced height. Infuriatingly. Never laughing at our juvenile forays into this new world of Counselling and Psychotherapy. We moaned about how we were finding timing impossible to schedule alongside work commitments, life commitments (what life) and how we were finding it hard to fit it all in with the incessant always present uni work commitments. Diabolical and yet somehow achievable or so we were lead to believe.
Tempered Smiles They the facilitator, were able to somehow with mirth offer reflection as if they were remembering their time, in our place – struggling. To make sense. To make it all fit. To make it all work. I became bemused by it all. A defence? Possibly. When I became a facilitator of my own experiential group a few years later, I vowed that I wanted to be a little more helpful. But a process group does what a process group needs to do. Process and work out for themselves the up from the down. The necessary from the useless.
Group in Prison The third group experience arrived as a result of an idea generation. How to support more people in prison therapeutically? The answer. Group! Myself and a very experienced counsellor friend came up with the idea of wanting to support men come to terms with their grief, whilst inside away from family. Listening to Griefcast for a few years prior, inspired a question that only beginning a group could answer. Could a grief counselling group be effective in prison? How will a counselling group work in prison? Will the group experience be effective for the men in a category B prison?
Answered We began the grief therapy group at one of the prisons I worked at in Kent in February 2019. The answers to the questions were: Yes a counselling group will work. The How – took planning, and advertising, and discussing the idea of the group with officers, and clergy, and education, and with clients that expressed a need for the group – a soft sell. The operational lead for the NHS foundation trust we worked for at the time, was enthusiastic about a grief therapy group starting. With their guidance, we began the bereavement group. The first few appointments were difficult to engage with for a number of reasons: Finding a location was a challenge. Arranging for clients to attend was another hurdle to overcome.
Grief is an unwelcome visitor for anyone.
Witnessing For these men, encountering grief alongside serving time in prison increased the level of challenge significantly. Despite these challenges the group grew and stabilised until the Summer break in 2019. Men found that they could share long held pains. The facilitation of the men sharing happened as a result of support and stabilising interpretations by the counsellors and by other men within the group. The level of insight and willingness to encourage other men by fellow persons in prison was the rare quality of compassion myself and my co-counsell witnessed frequently.
Companions Some meetings we were left wondering how the group had supported much of the repressed pain to be released. It was like from a pressure valve – slowly. At other times supporting the talking felt like walking a tight rope. Going too fast we all fell. Going too slow – not much happened and still we fell. Boredom, distraction, avoidance, telling other unconnected stories that felt familiar. All to leave the specter of Death and her willing companion Grief alone. Unfortunately I left the prison in October 2020. My hope is that the Bereavement group continues in some shape and form.
Resources Explained Thank you to Anne Willoughby for sharing Prison Break on BBC Sounds. The aspect of death and dieing is a constant factor to life. Experiences end. This too is also considered death. College behind bars is a wonderful testament to endeavour and to dare greatly. These men and women dare greatly and are both punished and rewarded. Philosophy Bites overviews the life of Spinoza who thought about the existential aspect of dieing. Code Switch Podcast shared the tragic story of Claude Neal. There is a chilling reminder of what constitutes group mind and group decision in relation to the podcast episode and the article that follows.
Kimberly Cato asked: Did the public lynching of George Floyd impact you in any way, and, if so, how have you or your life changed this last year? My response – Yes, the public lynching of George Floyd and killing of Breonna Taylor impacted me in a way that the many others killed by law enforcement had not. Not since Rodney King’s filmed brutal battery by LA police in the 90s had I been so affected by such visible hatred. At first I chose to make my writing pay attention to how I was managing his death and the avalanche of information that followed. Perfect Storm was my first homage to his (George Floyd’s) memory…
Transformation Writing offers me a chance to process disturbing and triggering information in a way that takes it past the point of the information being personally held, upsetting and re-traumatising. (It means) I have done something with it and so it’s transmuted into something digestible or more favourable – useable (to me).
Objectification I recognise myself as a healer, a storyteller, a writer, an artist – someone who has a responsibility to support more to achieve a state of balance and stability. My writing aims to do this in as personal and as objective a way as I can. I claim the heuristic autoethnographic process whilst studying my masters degree, as being a chief influence for this form of writing style!
Diversity Spaces Last year I was living in the UK working amongst a number of prisons as the lead counsellor for an NHS healthcare trust. I delivered training on White privilege alongside my colleague PK. It was there I witnessed the not so clever slight of hand that White colleagues would raise. The UK does not have the same issues with race that the US does. I would argue that it perhaps the UK has it worse – Hidden – Insidious – Deadly. The UK hides behind an idea of class, education, history – Wilbur Wilberforce and being a force for good.
Denial A White member of clinical staff stated whilst we engaged with the White Privilege training, that they had not seen the news about George Floyd and the protests and that they were not aware of the global mass awakening. From here I realised that logic, reckoning and knowledge were not going to be enough to support those with their eyes and mouths wide shut to change. I would need to seek a relational experience for those who claim ignorance, to either step in to the arena or take a seat closer to the edge of the action.
Energy Rasmaa Manakem’s book My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, I cannot wait to get my hands on this book as a loan from Hamilton’s Public Library. Rasmaa notes that there is an energy in the words we all speak that links us to our past and those that came before. As a seeker I am interested to know more about this partially invisible yet felt substance to our lives that scientists, psychologists and those working in varied fields including art and religion often speak of.
This point in time, this present history is where universal change occurs. Both are frightening necessary and exciting.
The move from London UK to Hamilton Ontario took place in February 2021, during the 2nd or 3rd global lockdown. We are finding our feet and settling in to life here, on this side of the Atlantic. My interest in story continues and in this piece of writing I am to share 1 of a few innovations.
A number of experiences are happening in a way I had not anticipated. I will carefully unfold each like an origami crane with a secret message. They range from being a panelist on True Roots mental health discussion conversations, supporting Health and Wellbeing Connectors, planning training for organisations that would like to work on making their work spaces Anti-Racist and being in communication and activism with the original Diversity Space team.
There was a life before the unlawful killing of Breonna Taylor, the pandemic of CoViD19, George Floyd’s video taped murder and the uncountable number of demonstrations that took place globally after their deaths that underlined how thoroughly incensed, we all were.
Swords Drawn That way of living (denial, superiority, indifference, ignorance of others suffering) has since passed. We are in a new time. The Gladiator – Brené Brown and her team have warned that this time is a dangerous one to be in. Her reasoning – an old way of being wants to hang on to what it has designed as belonging to it and that we all should put up and shut up! It will stop at nothing even it’s own destruction to maintain it’s power over and control and sense of right brained destiny. In my mind, things can not go back to a state of unknowing that we were all in before. Change is always upon us. Perhaps now we change and turn towards something worthwhile.
Black Lead The largest of the ideas I am looking to begin, is assisting Black, Asian and Indigenous Mental Health practitioners to coalesce and concentrate efforts to liberate the practice of Euro-Americentric psychology to become reflective of the communities that it may serve or support. Increasing the number of Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour to support marginalised communities manage with Anti Black Racism, Anti Indigenous Racism and Anti Asian Racism. Investigating older ideas of how communities have healed wounds collectively with little to no residue of the unresolved, science was spirit, spirit was science could be hope inspiring. The current methodology of psychology stigmatises and can create community distrust of mental health professionals. Not understanding nuances of presentation from culturally and ethnically diverse community members. I would like to be a member of a Black lead group of mental health professionals that include Psychiatry, Social Work, Psychology, Psychotherapy and those in training to regenerate a form of thought based and practical application to help/guidance/nurturing/story telling/trauma work/healing that incorporates every racial, ethnic, social and class group.
Like Us A similar organisation exists in the UK. I would be interested in supporting Canadian, American and Caribbean Black mental health professionals to link with BAATN in a partnership of collective interests to become the largest International organisation of Black, Asian and Indigenous Mental Health professionals globally. Think what the reach of a collective like that could be? Training, Podcasts, Guidance, Support, African, Asian Indigenous centred support for people who are calling out for mental health professionals that look like and originate from similar communities.
Artistic Dreams The idea arises as an accumulative effect of seeing a city (Bernin Zana) in the Marvel movie Black Panther, unsullied by African chattel Slavery and it’s twin cousin Colonialism. Other cumulative influences on this piece of writing are kwanda.co and the knowledge professionalism and right/might of the Black Panther Party as depicted in the film Judas and the Black Messiah. How does a 21 year old (Fred Hampton) command such determined and far reaching change? Movements like these, do so by inspiring and inviting all to look at old patterns – deign to dream of better ways of breathing and put in place new ways of living, effectively, powerfully. Comrades all. With a focused goal. The betterment of all by all.
For 1 The Euro-Americentric form of psychological/philosophical places a lot of importance on the individual in healing self first. Above everything and everyone else. I think that health is lost. Placing self first does not and cannot include the all of the family or the community. Outcomes are generally measured against individuals living well. Question? Where does the individual return after their experience with the psychologist/counsellor/psychiatrist? Home or to communities where helpful and healthy change are still often many horizons away.
Ubuntu The story of the western anthropologist who invited a group of children to race amongst themselves. The anthropologist was looking to understand the meaning of the term ubuntu in a country that represents the global south. The winner of the race would win the treats all for themselves. The anthropologist gave a signal to run for the treats and was amazed by what they saw next. Rather than a foot race with screaming laughing children zooming towards the sweets, the anthropologist took a step back as the children linked arms and hands and all ran together for the candy. When asked the reason for this significant change to the rules of the game. The children answered how can I enjoy, when I know that my sister/cousin/friend will not have? What if therapy looked similarly to the example these children have set?
What if the factors outside of the home are addressed and pulled into the formulation of support and healing? It would wonderfully complicate and slow the process down exponentially, but it would also be humane and lift not one but all ships in the harbour. Factors that impacted a person’s self esteem and sense of wellbeing, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, fight-flight-freeze response could be incorporated/supported by a community wide approach met by a community of professionals. I believe that a global community health paradigm shift could support all with a goal of healing being achieved by everyone. It is the essence of Ubuntu.
What Next The plan going forward will be to have conversations with a few members of the helping profession both here in Canada and in the UK in the coming weeks, to begin organising and designing a plan of implementing a change. This idea is one that for me is built on the many that came before. M. Angelou, Arike, DeGruy, Fanon, hooks, King Jnr, Lorde, Malcolm, McKenzie-Mavinga, Nkruma, Y. Davis. The idea is about building from below sea level – like a volcano.
Today’s blog is littered with links. The conversation about how Anti Black Racism affects me needed to be sighted amongst a wealth of material. Hopefully the writing has helped bring new thoughts and *awareni to the top of your mind.
On Wednesday 28th of April, Kimberly Cato of True Roots Counselling Services hosted her 4thTrue Roots conversations about being Black in Canada. For me, it was about being a citizen of the world now that I live in Canada. I drew references from my experiences of being a UK resident of over 40 years. The True Roots conversations each month centre on a specific topic related to being an African Canadian, African Caribbean and an African American living in North America. Guests have Zoomed in from African nations and the conversation feels like a truly Diasporic experience. The topic on the 28th was on Racism’s Impact? As a panelist, I also wanted to put my thoughts to ‘paper’ to share what these effects are in their fullness. I am not one for taking space when other guests have as much to share. So here on this blog I can get my thoughts together in a reasonably focused way.
What is Anti Black Racism to me? Anti Black racism is to me the video footage of Rodney King’s brutal attack by 4 police officers and the upsrisings this caused. It’s visceral nature and experience was an early experience of vicarious trauma for me. I was in Peterborough England. Rodney King I felt was me. His attack I felt could happen to me at any moment. I was 17 at the time.
Anti Black racism is to me the innumerable amount of Black women and Black men permanently negatively affected by racist ideas, policies, practices and structures that affect Black people’s lives.
Anti-Black Racism is the experiences of the Windrush generation of migrant workers arriving in Britain and not being allowed to buy or rent homes by White landlords.
Anti-Black Racism is the unwritten double standard and gall of the British nation to not welcome their rearguard support with more than disdain and mistrust amazes me. Those who arrived, invited by Britain to help rebuild the UK after the 2nd world war were criminalised before entry to the UK. Part of the commonwealth community but provided visitors status only. My parents came to Britain a few years after the Windrush as economic migrant workers and were maligned as inferior to British natives along with other Black and Brown people journeying from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
Anti Black Racism is Red-lining in the US, that observes racial, social and educational segregation and separation of racialized groups (a politically endorsed and semi legal enforced apartheid), Blacks (African American) Browns (Latin X, Indigenous, Asian) and poor Whites kept away from the middle and upper class upwardly mobile and wealthy Whites.
Anti-Black Racism is the central cause for the civil rights movement in the US and is similar to UK representations of seeking justice, brought to light by the small axe films by Steve McQueen.
Anti-Black Racism is the Steven Lawrence murder and Mark Duggan killing and subsequent police cover ups. The sentiments that fuelled the UK uprisings after Mark’s death in 2011.
Anti-Black racism is to me, Black and Brown people’s murders at the hands of law enforcement across the globe. Anti-Black Racism was partially involved in the world’s response to George Floyd’s murder. The will of the people being heard as if waking up, out of a dream, after 100 years of being fed government sponsored lies (about Black and Brown people).
Anti-Black Racism is finally seeing things as they are for the many who are living outside of the comforts of privilege.
Anti-Black Racism is the simple statement that Black Lives Matter and the upset this movement and statement causes some White people.
Anti-Black Racism is a remotely conscious belief that Black life – does not matter. I am left with the idea that even after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the many more famous and still being uncovered lives lost on account of being Black, that a Black life is valued as lesser than a White one. How many White male mass shooters are shot and killed by law enforcement after a heinous attack on a school, or at a place of worship? How were the marauders of the Capitol Building in January managed? Were these marauders to be Black, LatinX or Muslim what would the response from law enforcement have been?
How does it manifest itself in either your personal or professional life? ⁃ Anti-Black Racism manifests as insidious jokes classed as micro aggressions but are anything but small. Micro Aggressions are like hidden time bombs, or radio-controlled missiles with delayed or variable incendiary devices. Generally, when the bomb or missile detonates there be no witnesses save a single casualty – the unwitting and unwilling recipient.
⁃ Anti-Black Racism looks like – work colleagues who are friendly one moment and then can utterly silence forget and *invisibilise you the next. Coming to quick awareness when another in their social class, or racial group enters or strikes up a malignant conversation, drowning out what you were saying. Talking to other (usually White colleagues) as if you aren’t there, or that you wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly understand what the topic being discussed is. Even when you do and show that you understand or are interested in sharing your ideas, the sense of disbelief, the mocking sneer and invitation for you to further disembowel for the group’s amusement is often the beguiling response.
⁃ Anti-Black Racism is being outed as ‘other’ when you are doing one’s best just to do well or simply get by with little – no attention. Definitely not negative attention.
⁃ Anti-Black Racism is the idea and misrepresentation of yourself as only your race. Culture, gender, sexuality, religion, class, nationality, physical and mental capacity be damned. The narrow view – not identified as a complex intersectional human being. Other groups exist in the world constantly within a multi-directional/intersectional lens.
Do you see it’s impact in your sphere of influence, if so what does it look like? ⁃ Yes I do. I had a great conversation with my friend, a Ghanaian Indian woman recently. We both formerly worked for Oxleas NHS Foundation trust and formed the Diversity space together alongside two other Black male colleagues. My friend recently was awarded a promotion to her role after only 6 months as a lead social worker based in Kent, and is now the Team Manager and Service Lead. The role expands and increases the number of staff that are directly influenced by her and has also increased her budget. She had worked at Oxleas tirelessly for 2 years and saw a number of junior colleagues (White), advance in their careers many times before her.
⁃ A Black male Canadian friend, a counsellor and educator working in Peel educational district shared his experiences of ‘micro aggressions’ he had experienced earlier in April 2021. He shared that recently he was classed as being a bully, for standing his ground and for speaking his mind to a White woman.
⁃ Dr Clare Warner working at McMasters University as the Senior Advisor, Equity, Inclusion and Anti Racism Student Affair’s lead is working determinedly to begin supporting McMasters Sports Dept to begin tackling Anti-Black racism. The conversations we have throughout the day are about culture change and systemic racism that predates her role within the institution. Clare shares with me her experiences of building alliances with a number of Black student groups and Black faculty at McMasters, to work towards change within the university’s anti Black racism agenda. Conversations at our home are lively.
What strategies do you use to address Anti-Black Racism in your life? Meditation is a good source of making time to de-bug from the daily negotiation of the experience.
I read, I write, I comment on other’s feeds looking at and addressing Anti-Black Racism, I show support to initiatives by donating time and resources. I support groups like Kwanda that are doing amazing work internationally with the African Diaspora. BAATN.org.uk is another organisation I wholly endorse and support.
Talking/hearing with family and friends about these difficult ‘world put to order concepts’ are fulfilling, rewarding and encouraging. New ideas surface to age old problems and I find these conversations a wellspring of energy.
I listen to a number of podcasts that feature Black/Brown people including The Stoop, Code Switch, Ear Hustle, What’s Ray Saying, School Colours, Resistance, Nice White Parents, Forbidden Fruit and el hilo. Each show feeds me useful information and help to galvanise my efforts to continue the struggle. All of the shows listed above, raise points for reflection and change on the topic of Anti-Black Racism.
Ibrahm X Kendi’s book ‘How to be an Anti-Racist’ was useful to frame the dynamic of recognising the time we are living amongst as is Dr Dwight Turner’s book ‘Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy.’ Reading Aiko Bathea’s Open Letter to Corporate America and her interview with Brené Brown were hugely insightful about the steps we could all take to improve.
Forming Black lead group spaces that challenge the epoch of time we are living in – like Oxleas Diversity Space in England from October 2019 – October 2020. Forming and running a Black Men’s Therapy Group in South London in November 2019 and running this until June 2020 was a great experience for me and my collaborator Sheila Samuels. We witnessed Black men come together grow, learn, challenge and open doorways to healing.
Linking with Black critical thought leaders and change makers such as Dr Clare Warner, Evelyn Myrie, Terri Bedminster, Kimberly Cato, Kimberley Evans, Dr Dwight Turner, Rohan Thompson, Rotimi Akinsete, Yannick Yalipende and Wayne Reid is a huge spiritual, psychological, physical and emotional resource for me personally.
The article ‘Whiteness on the Couch’ by Natasha Stovall was a watershed for me. Here a White woman examines what it is to support other White people who don’t recognise their privilege is a useful resource to read.
Ultimately it is about recognising that I have a small part to play within a larger whole. My role is to actively work on bending the arc of history’s events towards justice – for…
I wanted to revisit the story of invisible wounds that are carried with us into adulthood. To look somemore at where Jill’s story ends and how and why Mos Def’s story begins. The reason: Psychological concepts live in us and are always present. Love Rains offers not just insight but also understanding.
Jill Scott Now me non clairvoyant and in love, Made the coochie easy and the obvious invisible. The rain was falling, And I couldn’t see the season changing, And the vibe slipping off its axis. Our beautiful melody became wildly staccato. The…rain…was..falling…and…I…could not…see..that…I..was…to…be Plowed… And sown and fertilised, and left to drown in his sunny afternoon, Cumulus clouds, 84 degrees,
Wide open, wide, loose like bowels after collard greens. The mistake was made, love slipped from my lips, Dripped down my chin and landed in his lap, And Us became nu. Now me non clairvoyant and in love Made me the fool You were never true If you didn’t want me, ah, you should have let me know All you did was make a mockery of Something so Incredible, beautiful I honestly did love you So
Immature What then? Both hurt, but for two differing reasons. What follows is time healing and recovering from that pain of loss. Until it is met again and perhaps both can learn how to survive the intimacy and complications that romantic love can bring. For some, men can be less emotionally aware, less in tune with body-mind-emotion connections. Men can feel that shame and fear are the same and do not spend time investigating to understand their differences. Until an adulting experience happens. They are met by circumstances that force change. Then they do. Then they can. Then they will. Willingly facing the denial of their first hurts and begin the process of healing.
Throne Making Mos Def’s piece blew me away when I first heard it. It still does. No poem before or after had ever exalted and re-set the Black woman so perfectly, I wanted to possess and inhabit these words and the intention behind them, to make right the many centuries of wrong hurt blame shame and pain. This too is my shame. In a word I am sorry for the wrongs that I and my ken have brought to you. I want to make peace with you: Queen.
Mos Def: I stretched my arms towards the sky like blades of tall grass. The sun beat between my shoulders like carnival drums. I sat still in hopes that it would help my wings to grow, So that I could really be fly. And then she arrived, Like day break inside a railway tunnel, Like the new moon, like a diamond in the mines, like high noon to a drunkard, sudden. She made my heart beat in a now/now time signature. Her skinny canvas for ultraviolet brushstrokes; She was the sun’s painting. She was a deep cognac color; Her eyes sparkled like lights along the new city. Her lips pursed as if her breath was too sweet and full for her mouth to hold. I said, “you are the beautiful, distress of mathematics.” I said, “For you, I would peel open the clouds like new fruit; Give you lightning and thunder as a dowry. I would make the sky shed all of its stars like rain, I would clasp the constellations across your waist and I would make the heavens your cape, And they would be pleased to cover you. They would be pleased to cover you, May I please cover you? Please”
Heady For me there is little in the way that speaks of adoration and reverie to honour or emits love much better than this. The poem can be interpreted as if to say I am sorry – and somehow yet, still more.
That an idyll can be obtained and brought about between Women and Men in this tale. ‘I see you, have loved you, am in love with you. With you, greater than I could ever be without you. And for that, I will share all that I am and more with you.’ That’s what I interpret in Mos Def’s verse.
The story in the remix offers a safe turn around to what is a well-known and pre-destined ending to love: Loss. Defeat. Endings.
As a result of the Kaemotherapy counselling offer, a number of Black women have been accessing my free workshops on 21st century mental health. I’ll write up my findings about the workshops soon.
Supporting Black women and men have become primary targets for my therapeutic support. There is great work to be completed and I am glad to have found a role that leads to overall wellbeing and health for more people. Resources Goddesses of the Roundtable Healing The Father Wound Brené Brown Unlocking Us Podcast Ask Me Anything Tony Porter T.E.D. Talk A Call To Men
It was a warm night in July and I had been tossing and turning for the 2nd night in a row. Another awakening was happening for me. I asked myself what to do with the discomfort of knowing half of the population of people on the planet are valued lesser due to gender? It is a nonsensical, that has bothered me for 40+ years.
Bounce That night a song rebounded in my mind and I was left with a question. What can I as a spirit, living in a Black male human body support Black women overthrow the yoke of patriarchy? The supporting interview with Kim Evans that offered free counselling via Kaemotherapy is a reminder of the fantastic work already being carried out.
Zoom Overload Rotimi Akinsete who is involved with Black Men on The Couch shared with me, that a Somali Woman recently offered her community the access to a free session of counselling support and 30-40,000 Black Somali women joined the zoom chat. A welcome surprise that there were that many Women who wanted to access support from the call. There appears to be much work to be done!
Anthems Love rains is a phenomenal song by Jill Scott on her first studio album ‘Who is Jill Scott?’. The album, a launching of a new songstress-poetess back in 98/99. Who is Jil Scott broke down a small wall for me in relation to an appreciation of Black Feminism. Songs like ‘Getting’ In The Way’, ‘Long Walk’, ‘The Way’ and ‘Love Rain’ became summer anthems for me that year. Most of the songs involved Jill’s interpretations on modern love and experiences on adulting.
Step Over My wall was small because I had witnessed many of the challenges my mum and sisters were battling against daily. In many instances I was on the same side of the wall – bar 1 – male. Council housed, poor, from a sole parent family, Black, lower class.
Cardboard The box we found ourselves in appeared too layered to clamber out from. My mother wasn’t one to relent on the hustle. My sisters were all able to dramatically blow out the sides of the box in one way or the other and escape. They all leaving home at 15/16…
The telling of Love Rain is a song/story of falling in love, and that love being passion driven and failing/ending. She writes/sings
Jill Scott F/ Mos Def Miscellaneous Love Rain (remix)
chorus: Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me. Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me, Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me. Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me.
Met him on a Thursday, Sunny afternoon, Cumulous clouds, 84 degrees. He was brown, deep Said he wanted to talk about my mission, listen to my past lives. Took me on long walks to places where butterflies rest easy, Talked about Moses and Mumia, reparations, blue colors, memories of shell-topped Adidas. He was fresh like summer peaches; Sweet on my mind like block parties and penny candy. Us was nice and warm, no jacket, no umbrella, just warm. At night, we would watch the stars, And he would physically give me each and every one. I felt like cayenne pepper, red, hot spicy. I felt dizzy and so near heaven. Miles between my thighs, Better than love, we made delicious. He me had, and had me he. He had me tongue tied; I could hear his rhythm in my thoughts. I was his sharp, his horn suction. His boom and his bip, And he was my love.
Recognise There may have been these experiences Jill sings about above, a number of years ago. Perhaps even post the CoViD19 pandemic, pre and post lockdown experiences we may have taken long walks after being cooped up for so long. Fallen in love with our environment outside our front doors again. Perhaps met a special someone…
The rain was falling and slowly and sweetly and stinging my eyes, And I couldn’t see that he became my voodoo priest, And I was his faithful concubine. Wide open, wide, loose like bowels after collard greens. The mistake was made, love slipped from my lips, Dripped down my chin and landed in his lap, And Us became Nu. Now me non clairvoyant and in love, Made the coochie easy and the obvious invisible. The rain was falling, And I couldn’t see the season changing, And the vibe slipping off its axis. Our beautiful melody became wildly staccato. The…rain…was..falling…and…I…could not…see..that…I..was…to…be Plowed… And sown and fertilised, and left to drown in his sunny afternoon, Cumulus clouds, 84 degree, melody.
Love Fade Verse The ending of love and passion heads into something more pedantry, pedestrian, passion free? I wonder what else could be said here? What a woman who has been let down by her love, her world, by the problematic system of patriarchy might say?
Support by I am to, pay attention. Call out the many micro-aggressions. Listen. Take up less space. Be a witness. Recognise simply it is not about you (man) or me. It is about equanimity and equality of opportunity. The very basis of a fair society.
Wounded There is a story for both the woman willing to be vulnerable and for the man unwilling to bear countenance of vulnerability, that seems to be a part of the hidden story of this song. The idea that by barely whispering ‘I love you’, has someone who has been hurt by love – run.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the experience of some people suffering trauma by witnessing harm come to another. Reminding them of their own hurts and past experiences of pain. Writing about Rodney King and then George Floyd has opened the door to an even earlier experience with Stephen and his jacket.
Big or Little T Trauma? Last week I wrote about the chase by police of me on my bike for reasons unknown. This week I wanted to discuss a first trauma. Yes there were others. The event was momentous as I had not been treated like this by anyone. I was about 7. It was summer. My friend ‘T’ and I were taking it in turns to ride my bike around the estate. The bike a black and yellow Cinzia, was my most treasured Christmas present! The bike was a sort of hybrid BMX.
Summer It was another hot summer 1979/1980. We kids were not up to much. Playing around the blocks of flats, killing ants, making and firing peg guns at each other and at pigeons. Harassing each other for rides on each others bikes. Playing knock down Ginger. Asking about who’s going to the shop? Because those half penny cola bottle sweets were so tangy and sweet. Tangmere used to have it all. Something unknown to my 7 year old awarness made all of the shops shut and never re-open.
Intimidate T had somehow met Stephen and been impolitely requested to give him a go of my bike. I believe Stephen had chased T and pulled him off the bike! Stephen was an older kid, maybe 10 or 11. He carried himself with some swagger. I can remember him (Stephen) pulling wheelies and doing long skids along the pavement. Treating (trashing) my bike in a disrespectful and in a way I found unapologetic in manner. Like the bike was his! I was angered by this. T may have told me what had just happened to him. I became livid I can remember. A thought I had was, this could be a case for the Red Hand Gang! But they weren’t around so, I could make this situation better all by myself.
Propulsion I ran at Stephen and shouted give me my bike back! He ignored me and sailed past. I gave chase. Screaming. Shouting. Wanting. My bike back! We met at Martlesham or Croydon one of those housing blocks on the estate. Stephen had sneered a warning to others who were gathered earlier: “if anyone touches my jacket. You’re dead.” He, Stephen, serious, warned. Me oblivious and not hearing, ignored.
Martlesham and Croydon were 5, 6 or 7 stories high with garden units at their lowest housing level. Both blocks had little to no outdoor space higher up the blocks, unless you counted the landings. All of the housing blocks had double height under building car parks. Our show down (mine and Stephen’s) was to take place in one of the car parks – later. The estate had many outdoor green park spaces dotted throughout the collection of buildings at ground level.
Engagement I think I shoved him in the back, or on the shoulder. Committing the mortal foul of touching his jacket. He had warned all who had cared to listen. But I shoved and he went ballistic. I believe that I started running before my bike hit the ground. Before Stephen started swearing. Before Stephen repeated he would hurt me after he managed to catch me. My feet took me away. At great speed. Fear is a phenomenally great accelerator.
Distance I ran. He chased. Back then aged 7. I was Nike. Fleet of foot. Good at bulldog, the running tag game. The 60m dash. The 100m sprint. But distance races I had not spent my time running. Now Stephen was quick too, and run as I might I could not lose him. He relentlessly gained on me. Swearing. I thought I could make it home, but his gallop closed down that line of escape. I turned away from racing home to Tangmere 119. To dodging between parked cars. Feeling that if I could use the cars to hide me I could evade capture.
Scared I ran for my life. Petrified. I feared that Stephen would finish me. He had said just that! This was happening and whilst in disbelief, I ran. Who threatens who about a Jacket? A jacket! Possession and custody of things I understood on some level. I put my body in harms way to get my bike back. This need felt justified. Right. Believable. Stephen’s need seemed trivial, petty. Unjustified. Stephen wanted to hurt me because he viewed his jacket as sovereign. I had mistakenly entered sacred space. Spoilt thread by touch and so here we were. Lion and gazelle in a death defying race. I feared for my life and ran away to protect it.
Relief He caught me under Martlesham and punched me a number of times. Head. Neck. Body shots. I wish I could tell you I took them all like a man and didn’t give him the satisfaction of witnessing a tear fall. I believe I cried from one side of the estate to the other. I cried up all the stairs to the top floor of Tangmere and when I got to my door which thankfully was opened by my mum. I went in and told her what had happened. She incensed. The bike left and forgotten where it lay. T later returned the bike.
Many – One Lost in my mayhem of thoughts and sorrow. I was not out for revenge. I wanted the pain and the sense of defeat at being outrun to pass. The reason – I was fast and rarely beaten in a running battle! There was the curious case of Darren. I wanted not to remember the embarrassment of losing a fight to an older boy. I vaguely remember T trying to defend me either running beside as a distractor or getting in the way of Stephen. Stephen had singled me out to exact his vengeance. And so found – was punished.
Prey The lion had found his prey and was set to claim his spoils. Remembering this painful memory does a number of things. I get to remember and release the pain that has been embedded in me for almost 40 years. There is also the courage to look at past hurts and witness the learning. I recognise that my experience of the chase trauma bears little resemblance to George Floyd’s murder or Rodney King’s assault. What I am doing is reclaiming my experience of terror. Providing an understanding of an unjust event and by doing so, allowing myself to relieve the experience of a trauma witnessed vicariously. It’s narrative therapy.
If My want in writing this series is that you the reader come away with an understanding of the term Vicarious Trauma that is personally enhanced. That the resources below support compassion and a commitment to live within an anti-racist frame, and that you comment below on these thoughts.