If someone is telling you their story – their cultural story, their personal story, etc. it’s far better to tell them you just can’t handle hearing it and walk away than to say, “Why can’t you just let the past be the past?” “Move on to the future, focus on the light!”.
Statements like that show your inability to feel the pain activated by their story and process it or to simply stand as a witness that those THINGS HAPPENED AND HAD CONSEQUENCES.
We as a country blow the horn of bravery on every holiday. People here fly all kinds of flags from their monster trucks and thump their “patriotic” chests loudly and yet when it comes to taking an emotional hit in the belly over what we’ve done to people of color now today and in the past up come the defenses and out come the attacks and admonitions to “Let it go, it’s over.”
It ain’t over.
When people are talking whether it’s to you or on their platforms and it makes you feel tension, stay there. Stay right there and breathe into that tension. Feel the pain you have in response to those stories, those histories and breathe. Feel the burning shame, the anchor of guilt and the immediate desire to shove it all out of your awareness. Feel your desire to want to say, “Yeah but…”. Yeah, but I didn’t do it. Yeah, but my family wasn’t even here then. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
We can’t change it but we CAN help. We CAN listen, we CAN say, “Show me how to help because I just don’t know what to do with all of this. I don’t want to hear this and I do. I’m conflicted and I’m willing to do this anyway if it helps heal the wounding that happens over and over. ”
If someone fell and broke their arm would you argue with them over why it happened and tell them to shake it off? That healing it was up to them and you didn’t want to hear about it? Or would you try to help or call someone who could?
Of course, you would call for help because you wouldn’t blame yourself. However, in that same scenario, if it was your brother that shoved the person on purpose so they fell and broke their arm you might feel secondarily shitty about his actions and the harm it caused.
Your tendency would be to attack the wounded so YOU don’t have to feel the weight of the situation.
It’s human and also unacceptable that we continue to blame the hurting for their hurt. It’s manageable to get past this very human response. We can do this, we have to for the sake of our brothers and sisters in this country, and this planet.
Own your ignorance. Own your response to the other’s pain. No, you didn’t directly harm on purpose but that doesn’t matter you can apologize for those who did. You can heal by proxy.
We have the power to say, without justification, what happened to you is abhorrent and deeply tragic. I’m so sorry it was that way and still is.
Own your privilege and wield it like a sword of Justice and Truth.
Own your ability and power to contribute to the healing so that one day, yes, it can be let go.
If you need help finding your way let me know.