My Thirty Day Challenge: A Different Kind of Black History Month

My Facebook post from May 27, 2013:

In a call for facts, I will be posting a series of links and references to information about the damage and history of Black people. If this is unpleasing to you, sorry. If you would like to unfriend me, see ya on the flip side. Hopefully people will either learn something or chose to ignore it (as history has taught us to do).

Knowledge is power. To remain in a uninformed state is a choice. To actively seek knowledge is a privilege and a right. To know our history might be a given for some cultures but for mine…. it is one that is a fight to unlearn the bullshit fed to us and relearn from truth. I am on this journey. Not everyone is.
Enjoy.

 

Two days ago I accepted a challenge. After a hijacked Facebook page gone wrong (When Good Posts Go Bad), it became clear to me that the knowledge I am researching and learning in school about race relations is so far beyond the understanding given within the school systems, that a lot of people do not know it. The history we have learned about Black people, Africans, Atlantic slave trade, the middle passage, US laws, the constitution, social injustice, crimes of humanity here against other races, Jim Crow, and current policies that are targeted at specific races are streamlined in a way that leaves out the truth. The education system here is so busy making sure not to cause cognitive dissonance with the American people, that we are teaching versions of history that are not history. We are busy learning a system of history that decreases the accountability of the US for the crimes against African Americans, and plenty of other minority subsets.

And so, after being accused of a couple of things, I thought…. Why not share what I am paying thousands of dollars to learn? Why not answer the call for facts? Why not be a part of change in a way that is tangible for some to read and hopefully research on their own? Why not initiate the conversations that are so hard to have, and uncomfortable, since I am not afraid to have them?

And the answer I came to? Why not indeed…. This is what I shall do. The road to true spirituality is based in acceptance, knowledge, connection, ancestral connection, service and introspection. This work is as important to my spirituality as any Wiccan ritual could be.

slave monument on goree island

So, I am posting facts of history, from the Atlantic slave trade to Jim Crow on my facebook page for 30 days. I am planning to include personal stories of racism, social scientist research about the social and psychological impact of race relations in this country, latest research around Dr. Joy Degruy’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, information about White privilege and the “invisible knapsack”, and other data about forms of systematic oppression.

When information is freely accessible, it might spark an interest for someone to unlearn the lies of history and relearn the previously hidden truth. If we can do this then we might be able to change the world together, heal the pain of wrongs from hundreds of years, so that our children can find a place in this very world that feels right.

I will be posting an archive of the week’s posts and links to Daughters of Eve incase others want to also read and get jump off points for their own research. I will not post people’s comments…. I want to honor each individual’s ability to process without exploitation. But I will repost, in a digest form, the information I have been providing. Currently I am posting an average of 3-6 posts a day with information.

Here are a couple to start us off right, some of my personal commentary in gearing up for the personal challenge.  Blessed Be on your journey of exploration and knowledge.

 

Posted on Monday, May 27, 2010:

Personal thoughts on understanding race relations: In a previously hijacked thread, there was some question to the importance of slavery, facts of slavery, impact of slavery and the rewriting of history that we teach to our children. I do not fault others for the version of history they were taught, I was initially taught the same. I find that I have had to spend a lot of time and money to BEGIN to understand the truth of my ancestry…. begin to understand the historic impact on who my people are.

I think this is an important piece to our problem in America; our society is based on an understanding of our history from a very biased lens in an attempt not to create cognitive dissonance to the average person. We can’t really teach our history, it is too brutal…. and what would that say about us?

So to clarify a couple statements I made. I do not feel that the constitution was written for us (Black and brown people). We were still enslaved in this country when the constitution was adopted. It wasn’t until the 1860′s that amendments stated to give rights to us, and release us from chattel slavery. When the constitution was written, we were not the focus of rights that were guaranteed to citizens. We were actively not considered citizens by current law.

I do not see myself as a slave. I see myself as a very lucky individual that has access to knowledge, education and information that not everyone has. I am very privileged to live a middle class life. Knowing my history enhances my sense of gratitude.

And while I am not a slave, my family members were. The intergenerational trauma created by Americanized slavery has crossed into behaviors and understandings that I am just now tapping in to. The way we are raised is very influenced by our history. Our customs and understanding of the world is often passed down effects of slavery and oppression that us modern day people don’t even know to connect to our history. We don’t know our history or our ancestry.

I am learning it. I refuse to raise my children in a society that erases their historical and intergenerational trauma in order to “get along”. Knowing our history allows us to heal from the ways that slavery is still present in our lives.

I don’t hate white people. I married one. Accepting my history does not turn me against anyone else. It is our truth. I shall embrace it.

 

Posted on May 28, 2013 (my birthday):

Today I turn 37. I have been building to a place in my life that supports understanding what it means to be me….. influenced by my heritage, ancestors, culture, lack of culture, spirituality and knowledge. I realized that I didn’t know enough. I still don’t know enough. I may never know enough.

So today I don’t just celebrate my 37 years as a date of birth but more as a moment in time when I have accepted that I will fight to unlearn and relearn where I came from, and how that contributes to who I am. I will not be ashamed to research my history, speak of what I learn, investigate what I don’t know and be transparent in my thoughts.

I embrace my place in the world, even if it is only to give accurate reflections of our culture to my children. I embrace that today.

Happy 37 to me.

  • megan

    Crystal, this is FABULOUS. Oh my goodness, I have been dealing with this very issue for the past few years and not being able to verbalize it in a way that won’t offend. Now I am so pissed off, I don’t care who I offend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to various spiritual retreats, expos, drum circles and find mostly white people prancing around with so little knowledge about indigenous peoples and professing to be this or that, or studied with this person or that person. You can tell (particularly by the fees they charge) they are not real but are merely “money changers” as spoken of in the Bible [I am not Christian but I have studied the bible and recall how Jesus kicked them out of the temple - he was fed up with their crap too]. Recently there seems to be a real interest in African drumming and African culture and spiritual practices. Again, I’ve attended drum circles and the fact that a white person looks at me as though I have the nerve to be there, or they feel uncomfortable with me being there (the reminder of their ancestor’s colonization perhaps)!!! So, I am not really welcome when I attend Celtic spiritual practices, and when white people are “teaching” African or Native American drumming or spiritual practices I am not really welcome there either!!! So what gives????? Not only that, but I am meeting Yoruban practitioners that are really really angry and fed up with those folks who love to hijack cultures and put a shingle out to charge all sorts of fees with the tag (I am a certified “whatever”). Oh Yea? Certified by who!!!…so enough is enough. It is time to have the conversations, put those half baked would be nothings out of business and begin a real conversation of what has been done to people of color and first peoples, what is still being done and in what form it is being perpetuated. And I am really really pissed off at those people of color and first peoples who would sell their culture to the highest bidder for a mere dollar. So, finally these difficult conversations are happening. I know I am starting to have them. I’ve lost 2 white friends over it already. Do I hate white people? No, although as soon as I stood for myself, I was called racist. LOL…how about that? A Native American sister who is an activist for her people is also very very fed up. The level of disrespect seems to be so high right now. I can remember a few years ago when a Native American brother was giving a lecture on Native American spiritual practices and teaching how to make your own drum. He had brought with him a medicine bag that had been handed down for generations by his family . It was so old that he recount back to the point where it was actually made. it was more than likely 100s of years old. It was SACRED. A white woman, while he wasn’t looking, picked up the bag and started looking thought it, like a damned shopping purse. I heard him scream out “Put that DOWN NOW”. She was an older white woman, and she was startled. She said “oh I didn’t know…”. Strangely, after the lecture, she came running after ME and started apologizing to me!!!! She said, “I didn’t know, bla bla bla”. I told her very calmly, that it wasn’t the fact that she didn’t know, it was the fact that she felt no sense of respect for his culture or of this SACRED article that he had certainly explained was sacred. I asked her if she would go and fondle and caress the chalices at the service of a Catholic church during service or after service? No. So I called her to the table. Because I asked her why she was apologizing to me…I am not Native American, and it wasn’t my medicine bag. Why isn’t she apologizing to the person it belonged to? I told her she had a feeling of entitlement that was not hers to have. If she felt she did something wrong then she should go to the person that owned the medicine bag and explain her actions and ask for pardon. Of course she never did that. She walked away to her car. IGNORANCE, No RESPECT!!! Only we can demand the respect that is due our people. They (White folks) can’t because it isn’t theirs to give or receive. Those groups that talk about “oneness”. HA!! What a joke. Oneness on their terms and they get to design what it gets to look like in the future? Well, hello people. Reality check. Guess what!!! You DON’T get to choose what “Oneness” looks like without the inclusion of EVERYBODY. And I mean EVERYBODY. This world is not all white. It is made up of people of all colors, with different languages and cultures. Ultimately, we ALL have a say!!! Take it or leave it. THAT is the reality of it. Real healing only comes with getting the truth out and having a real conversation about it. The truth about what was done, by whom, why and the aftermath of the abuse. It is real, and it is alive and well today. I do recall a white brother asking Darius Drucker to not sing country music and to please leave country music to white people. LOL OMG!!!! So, please tell me….. are we supposed to tell white people to not play jazz, to not perform the blues, to not do African and Native American drum circles and stick with their own Celtic or Nordic practices, or to not incorporate Reggae into their music, or to not do African Dance because they are white? Or, do they get to to whatever the heck they desire but we don’t? REALLY? REALLY????? THIS is what we have to deal with day to day, moment by moment!!!! ENOUGH Already!!!!!!! Go on and Preach girl. Preach at the top of your lungs!!! Cause I know I am. PEACE OUT! (as is said in the hood) Breath/sigh…and the truth shall indeed set you free.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Again, thank you for all of these posts (and I’m sorry I’m late in commenting on them/reading them, as it has been a rather busy month and a half, alas…)…

    But, just as a further note: we’re almost the exact same age, as I also turned 37 this year on the 22nd of May. Hurrah Mercurial Decanate Geminis! ;)


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