Racism In America: A Path To Healing

Race. Most social scientist agree that there is no such thing, and the concept of “race” is actually a manipulation of our cultural sensibilities… an illusion. Why then, can’t we talk about it, and agree to dispel the “smoke,” and shatter the “mirrors”  of a deception perpetrated-not just upon those of African descent, but all men, women, and children that have come from far and wide to call the United States home? Perhaps, it’s the air of accusation- the unspoken indictment…

“This is what happened.” says a member of the “out-group” to which the member of the other group responds “Oh my, that is a terrible terrible thing that your people have endured! Tell me, who did this horrible thing to your people?” To which the other responds “your people.”

“…and by extension- you.”  is unspoken, and yet, perceived by both parties. The power of racism has always been, and always will be, it’s ability to find purchase in the shadows of ignorance, cold courtesies, or denial; until we can talk about it, racism will continue to shadow our history, and shape our future.

Recently, I read “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy Of Enduring Injury and Healing” by Dr. Joy Degruy, I was struck by her claim that slavery was as traumatic for white Americans as it was for blacks. Essentially, her point was, because most whites were Christians, and imagined themselves to be moral, by engaging in a practices as immoral as willfully brutalizing and enslaving other humans beings, it created a condition, known in psychology as, Cognitive Dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance is a response to trauma that occurs when one does something so far outside of their essential self, they have to create a completely different reality in order to cope with what they’ve done; racism is the philosophy of this alternate reality. This perspective is revolutionary, because it draws the path to healing, not through understanding one another’s race, but through understanding one another’s need for compassion, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

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