I cried during Black History Month: an intimate sharing from a child's heart
This is a personal sharing from my heart, to give the child I was a voice and at the same time invite us to go underneath the race conversation and into the depths of our feeling world.... where true healing and change has a chance to take place. That's where it all began for me... in the most profoundly felt, hidden, unseen and underlying energetic movements of life.
So, dear soul, you're invited to take a deep breath with me, put your feet up and settle into that sacred soul-place of feeling and listening inside of you. Journey into the heartfelt inner world of a child I was many years ago....
I was born into a bi-racial family...
My father was born and raised in Ethiopia and my mother is of Norwegian & Finnish Immigrant descent. So as a mixed race child growing up in the mostly white suburbs of the United States, I had a myriad of subtle and not so subtle experiences of both marginalization and privilege.
And just to give you a little backdrop to my story, we lived in the heart of some of the original colonies... near Philadelphia, the home of the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence.
So the colonial era was sort of an all-permeating environment and energy around us back then, complete with sprawling colonial-style estates, Valley Forge Park (think George Washington, log cabins, & canons), colonial houses, buildings, statues- and sometimes paradigms, lol. And because of that, probably more than in most places, that era was highlighted in our education.
So this story is from the tender heart of the painfully shy, deeply sensitive, mystical soul that I was in this little girl's body growing up in that environment.
You see, I never really 'got it'...
Everyone around me- including my siblings- seemed to just ‘get it’... they got some hidden secret that I didn't know about how to function in this world we were living in. They all seemed to go happily about participating in suburban activities with this innate social knowledge they were born with.
Something just wasn't clicking in for me.
Everyone seemed to be quicker than I was... taking action, talking, and thinking so much faster than I did. I moved slowly, thought deeply, labored before making simple choices, generally talked and laughed less than the other children. My four sisters and brothers were my goddess- send... I can honestly say that without their loving, protective, and playful presence cushioning me from the world, I don't know how things would have turned out for the ultra-shy and sensitive child that I was.
It wasn't that I was sad, lonely, or depressed... I was just immersed in my inner world.
I distinctly remember laying in the grass during nursery school, watching other children and wondering how they could be so carefree…
didn’t they know that there is something more going on here than this constant activity? What was this inner place I kept being drawn into that no one else was talking about? Why couldn’t I catch up with them, and most of the time why did I not even care?
I could be found pondering for hours and days in my inner world, so much so that my siblings nicknamed me ‘space-cadet’. What they didn't know was that my ‘spacing out’… was actually a deep inner contemplation into the very meaning of our existence ... I was looking for answers for painful things that I had either heard or witnessed that didn’t make sense to my innocent heart.
I could never just hear stories or accept facts without desperately needing to know why things were the way they were. My attention would spontaneously be drawn inwards,…. with my fingers unconsciously folding my ears or hanging in my mouth, I would go into a kind of inner trance- watching people, wondering why they do what they do, why the world is the way it is, and in the later years, relentlessly questioning why violence happens.
Then at some point, the reality of being a child of color set in…
At about 7 years old, I became deeply, painfully aware of the atrocities of American slavery. My father had our family watch the ‘Roots: ’ mini- series, which was based a true story about Alex Haley's ancestor who was sold into the slave trade after being abducted from his African village, and taken to the United States.
Since my father was born in Africa, this series had a massive impact on our family. And yes, the traumas of the European slave trade have impacted the collective psyche of souls in the areas of Africa where millions of people were captured, held prisoner, and taken away on ships.
Thankfully, my father treated our experience of watching the Roots series as an educational opportunity. We'd have discussions at the dinner table, as he'd listen to our questions and share with us about his life in Ethiopia, the devastating impact of slavery to the heart and soul of black America, how important it was to think about these things, and remember our roots.
He explained to us how many black people had fought and died during the civil rights era so we could live in relative freedom in this country today. It was impressed upon us that we should never take that freedom for granted.
Just feeling in my sensitive child's heart how moved my father was from the whole experience of watching 'Roots' brought it to an ineffable depth of meaning for me. I was catapulted into another world. I could feel myself in the African forest, running in terror, being captured, shackled, brutally whipped, treated as less than human, trying to escape, being caught, lynched….
I would cry to myself …‘Why were those people so mean?
Why did they take them like that, why did they do that to our African people?’
Because I was such an introspective child, this experience did not just pass by, it made an almost unbearable imprint on my heart, soul, and general perspective of life.
I know now through the healing and direct re-memberance of my soul...that this impact had it’s origins not only in my ancestral heritage, but in two previous incarnations. In the first one I was part of a tribe in Africa which was brutally captured and taken to the slave ships, and a second one when I was enslaved on a plantation in the U.S. until I was captured and lynched while trying to escape.
Because these cellular memories and traumatic experiences carry over in our karmic matrix along with our ancestral DNA that forms our body-fields, I have suffered both consciously and unconsciously from these imprints in this lifetime. I have had to self-heal myriads of wounds and associated unconscious programming that came in during these experiences.
To name just a few...
There were unconscious feelings of inferiority, degradation, submission, shame, guilt, primal fear and terror of authority, wanting to hide who I am, feeling trapped & brutalized, afraid to voice my opinion or stand up for myself and others about racism, and a general feeling that I was invisible... that even if I excelled, my life and gifts would not be valued as an integral part of this society.
Even after self-healing countless imprints from both of these previous incarnations and awakening to ineffable states of Great Mother planetary consciousness in the process, more layers of this buried trauma and programming are still emerging to be healed and removed from my system. I am sharing this personal experience so that we all can begin to fully understand the absolutely massive impact that the brutality of slavery inevitably still has on the collective field of the black American internal experience of life. The programming runs so much deeper than we imagine... it goes generations and for many, lifetimes back.
Now, let's get back to our story...
A few years later in our elementary school auditorium we were shown the film “I will fight no more forever’, about the oppression, resistance and flight of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Native American tribe. The film culminated in the surrender, displacement and death of many of the people.
I was still in a daze in my inner world as the film ended, in the usual deep pondering about what I had witnessed, and was trying to clean up my tears when the lights came on and the call for recess came. Suddenly everyone just got up, starting chatting, laughing, and playing as if nothing significant had just happened.
There was no invitation from the teacher to deeply reflect on what we had just witnessed, no questions about it that would be answered, no acknowledgement that we were not supposed to just let it pass it by.
As if we had not just witnessed the horrific devastation of a whole tribe of people being relentlessly hunted down, their freedom taken away, while they vanished into captivity. As if this was normal human behavior, something to be counted as matter of fact, not a historically significant occurrence that has affected the very fabric of life we live in, no matter what color we are.
For me, even though I was feeling the deep heartbreak, pain, and horror of this crime against humanity, what moved me the most was the dignity, the honor, and the heart-felt spirit of Chief Joseph, as he proclaimed, "I will fight no more forever'.
Yet there was this underlying knowing that was this was a one-sided proclamation... the soldiers got what they wanted... they did not put down their arms, nor did his beautiful heartfelt proclamation stop those kinds of atrocities from happening.
And as far as I knew, this beautiful tribe of people just vanished from the earth, despite the powerful dignity, the heart, and the soul that they emulated. I was left with the heart-wrenching impression and general confusion around the coldness of our government that at other times was promoted as the land of the free.
These perceptions left an echoing unnamable sorrow deeply imprinted in my heart and experience of life.
And when Black History Month came around...
So when this time in American History class would roll around every year, I felt something unnamably uncomfortable. Although I had feelings of tangible relief & pride that Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and some other black people were being honored, I couldn’t shake this weird nagging feeling that something was very wrong about the fact that we even needed a thing called ‘Black History Month.”
I didn't have words for it then, but my underlying feeling was like we were being given just a few crumbs of a cake that everyone else was eating and enjoying fully ... like it was some kind of strange consolation prize to make up for the atrocities our ancestors endured. Or possibly even worse, feeling like those crumbs were saying something like: ‘see, black people are just as smart as everyone else… look, some of them have done amazing things, too’.
As the teacher mechanically taught facts about the civil rights era and contributions of some famous black people, there was this underlying feeling moving through me that was asking things like …
'Why is learning about these people designated to only one month out of the whole school year? Why is that kept as a separate part inside of the whole curriculum? Why isn’t it equally as important what has happened to black people as it is the white people?’ And doesn’t that still somehow make us outsiders, not as important as everyone else?’‘
'Doesn't anyone realize that slavery, segregation, and the civil rights era were massively significant occurrences that set the very foundation of the fabric of life in our country, no matter what race you are?'
And then as the teacher per usual left no room to address anything of the painful feelings that anyone might be experiencing, we simply moved on to the next subject... usually something having to do with how freedom, prosperity and 'progress' were available to everyone, and that's how we developed this country.
The unspoken underlying feelings continued to resound through my heart...
Wait a second, didn't they just talk about the hundreds of years of horrific enslavement and brutally enforced segregation of black people? How can they go on now and teach us about the founding fathers as if they were heroes, bringing justice and 'freedom for all', and believe it?
Does 'all' mean everyone except for those who happened to be born black? And what about the Native American people? How do I, as a mixed race child fit into all of this?'
’Why can’t anyone else sense that something is very wrong here?’
In my young girl's mind, I didn’t have any way to articulate the deep feelings of ‘not-right-ness’ that were stirred inside of me, and there certainly wasn’t any place in the mostly white school and culture I group up in to ask that kind of question.
What I was left with was a major gap in my consciousness... one that is just being filled in, gently and gradually today as I write these words. And that is that there is no good or adequate answer to these questions.
There never will be.
The awake part of my being has searched, healed, and is intelligently aware of the innermost, multi-dimensional energetic dynamics, reasons for and underpinnings of global, systemic racism. Yet there is still, and always be, this innocent heart of a little girl that will never have an adequate answer to her crying out of ‘why?’
That question, that cry of 'why', this little girl's innocent heart of sorrow, has propelled my experience of Great Mother realization into ever-deeper dimensions of soul and planetary healing, and continues to power my path today. It is my human heart's cry, my lamplight, my innermost compass that leads me again and again into the epicenter of the Mother's Source of Love, as well as what needs to be revealed for the healing of my own soul and the soul of organic life on our beloved planet.
And I will not forsake her, I will never give this innocent child's heartfelt cry up for anyone else's spiritualized, programmed in, dogmatic persuasion to 'forget the past', that we do not need to heal, that we do not need to re-member all that has happened to us, that we do not need to embrace in the deepest possible way our buried pain so that we can fully restore ourselves to Gaia's Heart of life.
… Because there is no justifiable answer to the innocence of deep hearts and tender souls as to why such violence and cruelty can happen, and why so many people still- even willingly- perpetuate it today.
I have no idea how the history of slavery, segregation, discrimination, and racism are addressed in the United States public education system now.
What I am deeply aware of in this moment, is that the way it was taught when I was growing up, and it's place in what I see as a segregated curriculum, shaped the perceptions of people of all colors in our entire generation. And those same people are now adults, in positions of influence and leadership at every level and arena of this country.
So it is no wonder we are witnessing both the shock and the cognitive dissonance of those in the positions of privilege at the way that people of color are taking a stand for our lives, our history, and the unique gifts we bring to the whole to be systemically treated as equal and valuable.
Because what is coming forward now goes against the entire collective programming that has it's deepest origins in the institutions of slavery that the capitalistic wealth of this colonized country was founded on. This programming, and all it's facets runs through our DNA, the cellular memory of previous incarnations, and in this lifetime was re-inforced by the educational system.
Racism will not easily or fully dismantled simply by intellectual learning, although that is an absolutely vital step in the process.
If we are going to make it, and enter into the vibrantly alive co-creative field that is the true diversity of the Great Mother's body of life, we must all be willing to acknowledge the painful reality of those who are still bearing the brunt of systemic racism today, and our place in perpetuating that.
We must also, no matter what color we are, do what it takes to self-heal and de-program our unique internal configuration from the colonized perceptions we have inherited from our ancestral bloodlines and lived in our own soul's journey. And in the process, we will not only be healing ourselves, but healing all of life on our beloved planet.
I"ll meet you there, again and again, in the life-giving Great Mother thresholds between personal, collective and planetary healing.
Thank you so very much for listening to my story.
May your healing be deep and strong and reverberate throughout all of creation.
In the Love of the Mother of Life,