This was the response of a Facebook friend who was reacting to a Washington Post article and confession by Lawrence Otis Graham (pictured with is family) entitled: "I taught my black kids that their elite upbringing would protect them from discrimination. I was wrong".
Here's my attempt to answer my Facebook Brother's query:
My Brother, this Graham sickness - thinking that we can shield our children and ourselves from racism by running away from it is an extreme form of what most of us have been doing in one way or another. In fact, our parents have taught to do so.
|Life, Health, Strength|
Ankh, Was, Djed
I agree - the Graham parents need therapy in a big way! Unfortunately, so do we all. This is not a defense of the Graham's assimilationist fantasy. It's a call for us to address similar pathology rampant in our community in smaller ways.
One way to understand this sickness is to understand the "illusion-delusion" dance. Europeans supply the illusions - the false projections that protect them and endear us to them - for example, "money and education will protect you from racism."
Based on "injected" fears and a belief that we are inadequate to stop, defeat, or neutralize their abuse - racism, we supply the matching delusion - denying reality to buy or create an image or story that hides us from our worst nightmare, for example "acting white will protect me." Although Graham calls it "acting elite," he forbids his children from wearing anything that Whites associate with Black people. (See video)
The illusion-delusion permutations know no bounds. They hide among assimilationist and the nationalist, the capitalist and the revolutionary, the college and the street. They are sources of phrases like - "there's no hierarchy of oppression in America," or actions like taking Glutathione for skin bleaching. The charge of "Talkin White" is often an attempt to pry the dancers (illusion-delusion) from under the "proper English" cover. (See related article: Not Talkin' White, Idiot)
Born of the historic, horrific, overt abuse of the European invasion of Africa and the middle passage, continuing with the overt and psychological abuses of American captivity, Jim Crow, and even Obama's post-racial America, we overestimate the European threat.
While enduring a brutality and beastiality we could never have imaged, we were also separated from our cultural power center, our ways of connecting, making meaning and telling time.
The result is that we came to discount our power, and to see ourselves inadequate. Rev. Martin Luther King suggests that we're induced to "maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum." "Pathological anxiety" gripped us by our throats. concludes psychologist, Dr. Amos N. Wilson.
Over the long days and nights of brutal White oppression, survival anxiety morphed into pathological anxiety; retreat morphed into surrender, and delusion became our refuge. Now, desperate for this psychic refuge, the hellish captors could merely supply the illusions to keep us serving them without resentment or resistance. For Europeans this was a bonanza. Forging illusions was and still is cheaper than forging iron shackles. Besides, the iron and the whip had served their purposes - to affect our surrender.
Europeans forging illusions to instigate and support pathological delusion is a strategy honed over centuries. Dr. Marimba Ani's Yurugu calls a key aspect of this strategy the "Rhetorical Ethic"- a projected value or image favorable to the oppressor is crafted to align with the the values of the oppressed or the "mark." Projections of American Justice, Democracy, Equality, Public Education, Hard Work, Individual Responsibility, etc.induces us to participate in, and even protect these - while denying the reality that the society rewards their opposites. The false projected value, "ethic," or image is a con and has only one purpose - to invite delusion to dance.
Even so, overtime our real African-selves begin to surface, and the illusions begin to lose their luster. Graham's own "I was wrong" confession is an example. The oppressor's counter: select, well placed and publicized acts of oppressive brutality and the illusions once again become attractive dance partners.
Brother, this is the brief history of the sickness you seek to understand and for which you prescribe therapy for the Gharam parents, and by extension to the rest of us.
Unfortunately, neither increased brutality, Eurocentric education or Western therapy will cure this pathology. In our current state, more brutality only generates more pathological anxiety which generated more delusion: we start anew to count the equity we have in our escapism. Therapy fails because Western "therapies" - clinical or social - seek to make us personally comfortable, "safe," and "normal" within this oppressive system.
For Western therapies, communal definitions of "self" are replaced by "the individual." Multi-generational definitions of the person have no meaning. Without these Western therapies confuse or intentionally distort "fighting and sacrifice" into "mal-adaptation and suicide."
This distortion insures that the well-intentioned therapist thwarts our real sacrifices required to fight and that likely result from fighting. Of course, my brother, as you suggest in your query, fighting oppression and sacrifice are at the core of real protection protection and healing for our families.
If the therapist can't turn us away from our mal-adaptive and suicidal ways, the labels themselves summon the "authorities" who will drug us into compliance or arrest us as a threat to the public.
The Western therapists' professional status is provisional - based on their support of the values and norms of oppression. It is rare that they will encourage clients to cut off the hands of the status provider. Similarly, the therapist not engaged in actively fighting against this oppression can be of little use to those who must fight it for sanity. Please be clear - naming, evaluating, and categorizing, or reporting is not fighting.
On these and many other counts, Western therapies and education are instruments of war - crippling as they pretend to heal, poisoning our trusting minds, alienating us from our way and our mission, so that we will voluntarily serve aliens with neither resentment, nor resistance. The Grahams hold themselves up as the poster family for that.
We need a therapy, education, and socialization rooted in our culture and our mission for protection, self determination, and nation-building.
We need Warrior-Healer-Builder (WHB) therapies - ones that start with supporting our actively opposing the people, policies, and practices that oppress us. The healing parts have to specialize in intergenerational wounds born of oppression injected into our family and community lines that continue to this day. And while supporting this fighting and healing, these therapies must help us build families, schools, institutions, businesses, defenses and offenses that support and sustain us.
Brother, given how rampant and virulent racism is, we must create groups and interpersonal relationships that are intentionally WHB relationships.These are relationships and communicative encounters with each other that help counter, neutralize, and heal the daily wounds of oppression, that honor our fighting and sacrifice, that support or building in spite of it.
How do you created these WHB Relationships? It's a tall order, and it's hard work undoing generations of warped communications and relationships. Still it's being done. Every year more and more are learning and doing.
C'mon, you're invited. Learn about it. Join the movement.
See you at the next Warriors, Healers, Builders retreat!