The Unwanted Child
An opinion piece by a Woman of Color Living in America
When I think of America, I think of a place I’ve lived my whole life, but I don’t think of it as my home. A home is where you can lay your head down to rest and be yourself. But all my life, I always felt like I had to hold back a piece of myself. Since I was a young child, I was told to hold back my displeasure and anger because no one wants to hear it, hold back my sadness because no one wants to see me hurt, to hold back my joy because no one wants to know that I am ecstatic, to hold back my ideas and beliefs because no one believes they are valid or want to know how I think. I was taught to suppress myself and I feared being reprimanded if I didn’t. Did systemic racism have something to do with this?
It was obvious that something was going on from the beginning. During my youth, school to me was a prison to keep inner-city kids occupied and teach them obedience so they can be compliant in society. And I noticed police treating people of color as if we needed to be caged in, because we might “act up” in their eyes. I could imagine that most police didn’t grow up in an integrated community, so they mistakenly view Blacks as unequal subconsciously. As a child, it seemed that the cops were willing to enforce the law by any means necessary, making it easier to tighten
the whip around what they consider inferior people’s necks. Interesting that George Floyd stated, “I can’t breathe”, words that I feel sum up how most Black Americans feel about the confining, ridiculous and unbearable restrictions imposed on them. Always feeling the watchful eyes of a police officer breathing down their necks, no wonder African Americans are viewed as paranoid and unhinged—wouldn’t you!
If America is the mother, then Black Americans are the unwanted child. Most Black Americans in history were brought on slave ships to be someone’s unpaid laborer, to do all their dirty work, and to be identified as their property. It feels like nothing has changed. How will America, our
mother, treat us now that we don’t want to do that?… We want so much to get our mother’s validation and to be wrapped in her loving arms. But most of the time, she pushes us away and tells us that we are unlovable and then beats us senseless. What happens to a child who is constantly being beaten up by their parent? They either become traumatized and then to stop the
beating they become compliant to the disciplinary parent so they won’t get punished anymore and will feel worthy of their parent’s love; or, in the absence of the loving attention they yearn for, they “act up” and misbehave like the black sheep of the family—after all, attention for misbehavior is better than no attention at all. (In my youth, I chose to be compliant, but now I “misbehave”.)
Expressing your anger is the healthier choice, considering the abuse they endured. Expressing that anger is a self-loving act! In the example of the compliant child, as the child grows up, he or she will learn to take abuse in all facets of life: through school, friends, family, jobs, relationships, society, etc. By accepting this form of oppression, this societal mistreatment
reinforces the idea that the child is unworthy, and their integrity is devalued. Institutional racism relies on this programming to get the oppressed to cooperate with the agenda of the group in power. If you do not conform to this agenda, you will be punished and devalued by society, just
as the unloving mother who punishes the child for questioning her authority and control because she is always right!
Then there are the Blacks that are affluent in today’s society, but they are viewed as the house negros, privileged but not at the level of whites. But if any one of the “house negros” acts up or questions authority, they are thrown in jail and enslaved in the same way as “field negros”. In
most cases, probation isn’t likely. But if they do get probation, is it only to serve as a reminder that the Blacks belong to the Whites and must stay in their place. Additionally, there is a group that is aware of the establishment’s propaganda, and they know how to conduct themselves so as not to alarm White America. They are considered the” woke” group, and they are not deceived or convinced that the capitalism system benefits them.
When it comes to the root of systemic racism, I feel it derives from White America’s issue of feeling “not enough”. Throughout European history, the White Europeans have had trouble even loving their own race. I can’t help but notice when reading Dickens that the English class society was like how White Americans treated Black Americans (but with less brutality). In this
example, you can see how they developed the habit of treating people unlovingly. The British nobility treated the lower class as if they were beneath them. If they could abuse and dehumanize their own people this way, how will it be for someone of another race? No wonder the Native Americans were met with such harsh treatment and stripped of their land and culture! The system of oppression and corruption was already in place even before they brought Africans on board the slave ships.
I have a theory when dealing with trauma healing: it requires patience, time and compassion to fully recuperate and to heal. For example, when Nelson Mandela was first appointed President of South Africa, he loved his country and wanted so much for the Black South Africans to heal from the painful atrocity that was the apartheid, inflicted by the White South Africans that were in power. His government created a court-like platform called “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, in which victims were allowed to tell their own stories of the violent acts inflicted upon them. The perpetrators also got a chance to own up to these crimes, and by doing so were forgiven of all their crimes and gained amnesty. This gave both Black and White South Africans an opportunity to transmute their pain into healing energy. So, in order to heal, we must become
comfortable with the uncomfortable and have a space to express our anger and pain so that it can transcend into real, organic, forgiving energy.
The journey for healing in America is going to take time because we are so far from reaching that level. One cannot force or change one’s energy into another if we are not ready yet. It takes time to transform anger and fear into love and harmony, like a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly. Throughout the duration of the cocoon process, I assume the caterpillar doesn’t know it will morph into a beautiful butterfly. In actuality, the caterpillar is probably uncomfortable going through the cocoon process, but it doesn’t resist its intuitive nature to grow. Similarly, for something beautiful to emerge, we must experience some of the not so pretty feelings and emotions and then be compassionate with that process. It is a magical and beautiful thing to experience because without pain and uncomfortability, we cannot grow.
So in order for Black and Native Americans to heal from over four hundred years of oppression by the White American regime, privileged white Americans will have to bear witness to the crimes of their ancestors, as well as their own, through the voices of the people who have been oppressed by them. Then maybe real growth and healing can happen. However, I believe real reform to our institutions and leadership will also help tear down systemic racism. The difficult part of this process is for White Americans to not take the Black and Native American’s painful narratives and anger personally, making it about themselves (which some have done with the All
Lives Matter movement). Black Lives Matter is just pointing out that there is a problem with how we determine real equality in our judicial and economic systems, and that we should take notice of those things that need to be changed. Also, White Americans should realize that it wasn’t their pain that was ignored and not allowed to be expressed for more than four hundred years ago like the Black and Native Americans; so, compassion is rightfully required at this moment in time.
I do believe I have a home, but that home is where my heart and soul lie. My home is not in a physical place or land, because in actuality, no one really owns anything (or anyone). Also, I would rather perceive my idea of home this way, so I don’t lose perspective on what matters in this world. Life, love and the pursuit of happiness and freedom is what we should value. If we can only understand this fact of life, then our society will be more evolved and more tolerant of others that we perceive as different. Because no one is different, in the sense that we are all composed of the same elements, living the best life we can. We need each other and this earth in order to survive. So, this is the best time to work out our issues instead of ignoring and repeating history all over again. And this is the best time to stop promoting inequality and white privilege, so we can start anew. Because we are no longer deemed separate or unlovable, and it about time we let our neglected Mother, America, know we all deserve to be seen!
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