The Unchanging Truth by Pamela Brewer

Saturday, July 15, 2017
The Unchanging Truth 
By Pamela Brewer, MSW, Ph.D., LCSW-C

In a world filled with technological advances, broadened psychological understanding and a growing celebration of the power of love and peace and mindfulness – I continue to sit with one unchanging truth for anyone of color in these United States –
particularly those of African/African American heritage. 

What puts me most at risk every day is the color of my skin ~ 
what people assume the color of my skin says about me, my beliefs, my behavior, my character - the content of my soul. 
 I am at risk for being stopped or questioned, demeaned, or at the very least 
– spoken to and looked at in a way one would look typically look at a lumbering, hulking ax murderer.

Today I feel a little more torn, a bit angrier, a tad more worried, a skosh more incredulous.  Why?  Well…like any other day in my world – another Black person is dead.  Murdered.  The crime?  Guilty of breathing while Black.

Like any other day in my world – a police officer is described as both the victim and the criminal.

Like any other day in my world – what should be right – is wrong. 

What should be wrong – is commonplace. 

Woven above and below and throughout all this – is my other “hat”, my identity that is as core to my understanding of self as my race and my gender.  

In the world of yesterday as today – filled with fear and anger and passion and hope and love and foolishness – race is as much a part of the clinical hour as the air in the room. It does not need to paint the room – but we must all be aware that it is in the room – unspoken or not. Even as I say this - the raw reality of today's world is that too many do see race as painting the room, the house, the world, the air we breathe... 

So once again I join the voices of those who work to add to the understanding, the exploration , the acceptance of the fact of racism - the foolishness, the ugliness and the damage of racism and the critical, urgent need to cure the debilitating mental illness that can only serve to shrink our country, our collective wisdom, and our growth.  

To those who choose to shy away from such conversations - for fear that "those people" are just angry all the time - or are upset that respect continues to be demanded and discrimination continues to be reviled...just a reminder --  
It is patently racist to suggest that this country was founded solely on respectful laws when indeed it was literally founded on the backs of stolen people and murdered residents.
 We must be clear that people of color – Black and Native peoples-  know that and yet - are expected not to be angry, are expected to be patient, and understanding and “teach” those who do not know, could not know, or have truly never bothered to learn – what a day in the life of someone who is invisible until suspected of a crime – any crime – could be like.

Non-black peoples have benefited in countless numbers of ways on countless numbers of levels that persons of color have not and will not until racism – the fallacy of white “supremacy” – the white fed notions of 'white superiority/privilege' exist no longer.  Period.  White 'superiority' in fact was never real it was the tale that was told to relieve the first ‘American’ criminals of their crimes of murder, abuse, rape, and theft.

To be the best of human beings we need to demand of ourselves that we acknowledge the clear and present and longstanding social, economic gender, political and educational differences that potentially exist between us.  Not because there are inherent intellectual differences between us – but because there are inherent race-related differences in access. 

We need to acknowledge that we all have prejudices. 

We need to be able to acknowledge and respect without judgment our differences – thus opening a true space for acknowledgment of our similarities. 

We are holders of biases of which we may be unaware.  As with ghosts of the past, unconscious rumblings can have a powerful impact on every part of us.  The more unconscious – the greater the potential for impact. Perhaps we can all agree that being truthful and curious with/about ourselves – is a tiny beginning towards being available and useful to the world in which we live and work. 

Race is here – it is not going away – but we can work to celebrate our differences, in truth, rather than to grow them, hide them, hide behind them, or deny them.

As I close this discourse – I turn again to hear about another Black person shot. And another white cop doing the shooting…

And I feel another tear in my gut, another scowl crossing my brow.  I take another deep breath – trying to breathe in peace and calm and a resoluteness to continue my work, along my path – and blowing out the stress, the tension, the anger and the sorrow.  

The fact of racial differences – is not the problem.  However, RACISM with all its poisonous tentacles will continue to reach out, choke out and ultimately destroy us all until we actively, mindfully, courageously, relentlessly exercise the self-regard, and other-regard to cure this disease, this mental illness that is all but squeezing the life out of our nation and our planet.

Copyright ©2017 Pamela B. Brewer