It’s holiday season and while some of us are accepting of these holidays and others are not (a discussion we’ll save for another time), one thing I notice is that regardless of our spiritual differences and varied levels of consciousness, we all find a way to congregate. It’s one of the great things I love about Black culture. Despite what we are given, we find a way to relate to one another and celebrate what truly makes us unique. One of my favorite examples of such is #thanksgivingwithblackfamilies.
These posts bring about mixed emotions for me. While they are funny, they point out the challenges we as Black people are faced with that we often times ignore. As a good friend once told me, Black people are really good at coping and neglect the opportunity to heal.
Our Black families are built on values which respect and cherish solidarity and collectivism while simultaneously we keep secrets and host hostility within ourselves versus resolving familial conflict. Within the past month, I have found this to be the focus of many sessions with my clients. I’ve heard people mention their intentions to go to family functions although they recognize that their participation in such leads to increased feelings of sadness, anxiousness, anger and confusion. I’ve had to then ask “What if you and your [insert mother, father, brother, etc.] both need to heal and have to do it separately?”
I’m then met with “What? I can’t
do that! That’s my auntie. That’s my mama. I HAVE to take care of her.” In which the question has to be asked “Well who is taking care of you?”
This folks, is how generational curses began and will continue to occur. One of my favorite professors from FAMU, Dr. Dennard so eloquently stated:
Whatever madness your ancestors had & whatever problems they did not solve, will be your madness and your problems. Whatever you do not resolve, will be inherited by your children. This is the law and the crux of our situation. Transformation is purpose, everything else is wasted time.
So let’s reflect on the trauma, exploitation and forced assimilation that our enslaved ancestors have experienced. Couple that with the anger, sadness and emotional exhaustion our great-grandparents experienced, alongside the fear and silenced feeling our grandparents experienced… And we’ve somehow come to believe that we have healed?
We laugh when Grandma is walking around the house making remarks about everyone with no regard to their feelings when in reality, there is a 1 in 5 chance she was the victim of domestic violence and did not get help. We egg Uncle Sam on when he’s in a drunken stupor to dance, ignoring that fact that as a result of his childhood, he drinks to the point of intoxication in efforts to erase his recollections of the abuse he witnessed his mother experience. We call Aunt Wanda crazy when she is cursing Grandma and Uncle Sam out because they ate the last of the sweet potato pie when in reality, due to the chaos within her childhood, she knows of no other way to express herself and feel heard.
THE CYCLE DOES NOT END. It continues. So how do we resolve it?
We decide to no longer keep familial secrets. We decide to allow ourselves to feel. We make tough decisions on who we allow into our space, despite relation. And most importantly, we decide to heal.