The Hero’s Journey is a journey with many voices and many experiences. I am one voice on that journey. It’s impossible to walk this journey without each other. Sometimes the journey requires solitude and sometimes the journey requires seeking comfort and support from compassionate and wise “others.” Understanding culture and the experiences of others is a critical part of the Hero’s Journey. I’m so excite to introduce a fellow traveler. Monica has been a friend, a teacher, and mental health professional. She is a fellow traveler on the journey. She’s taught me to understand the “stories” and experiences of people in the black community to help me become a more compassionate and skilled therapist – and person. I asked Monica to share her “story” and wisdom as one voice from the black community. She has graciously accepted my invitation and chosen to share her voice in a letter. I am honored to share her “voice.”
~ Cathi Spooner, LCSW, RPT/S
To Whom It May Concern:
I have chosen to write a letter to express my thoughts, feelings and experiences, since it is clear to me that I desire to experience change and it is My responsibility to honor that which I seek and open the door to have, what has been the challenging conversation.
Words cannot begin to describe how deeply saddened, hurt, disappointed, astonished, and troubled I am that in the year 2020, the emphasis and credence given to race, a social construct, versus that of our humanity, continues to prevail. Have We the People questioned the construct that was put in place centuries ago and evolved just as the medical and technological advancements? How have those advancements taken precedence over that of our humanity; that of our Oneness?
As I watched the news broadcast and the video of a human life being extinguished, I wept. A million and one thoughts and feelings ran through My heart, mind, and spirit. Primarily, with all of our societal “advancements”, please help Me understand the reasons a.) history keeps repeating itself; b.) what are the reasons the lessons continue to go unlearned and c.) what has happened to compassion and empathy for our fellowman…or was/is that my naivete?
It was as I pondered these questions that I became acutely aware that the only opinions/beliefs that appear to have mattered are those of White America. Based on My experience, the voices of African Americans in this country have gone unheard and dismissed. I know, a bold statement, so allow Me to provide clarity.
Until the untimely death of Mr. Floyd, deniability has been used to escape the reality of the African American experience in this country. Now that White Americans witnessed the death, and have begun to question the disenfranchisement, inequities and systemic racism, there has been some form of movement. Prior to this incident, there has appeared to be NO compassion, willingness nor openness for open, honest feedback and/or dialogue about racism.
This is NOT the first time this type of incident has occurred; hence, it is unclear to Me the reason this incident appeared to be so shocking and appalling to White America. One thing I know to be true is EVERYTHING that lies dormant in darkness will eventually be brought to the light. The masks that have been worn to deny racism have been forced to fall away, and in 2020, we, as a country, have an opportunity to honor and stand on the principles that the United States of America deems to be the foundation of this country. I recognize that we ALL have opinions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences that ultimately shape our beliefs. However, and perhaps naively, I was under the impression that in our humanity – and IF our humanity has meaning and is important – one is open, willing and available to listening (vs. hearing) the other persons beliefs even if those beliefs are opposing to that of our own. Then and only then can understanding be gained.
It’s disheartening and extremely challenging for Me to be completely transparent and to admit publicly and more importantly, to Myself that I was NOT surprised by Mr. Floyd’s experience. You see, the experience has on many levels been the norm for African Americans that the shock and awe I experienced was in the fact that it was recorded for ALL to see. Wow, that was hard to admit! This was a POWERFUL awareness and part of my personal inventory about race! Had I become so desensitized/complacent and dare I say, on some level willing to accept that this form of treatment has become Normal? As I contemplated “normalcy”, I was thrust into a state of anger, rage, frustration, disappointment, sadness and ultimately, I recognized that I had been experiencing a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and apathy.
I questioned the reasons that generation after generation of African Americans are still struggling with the same issues our ancestors had experienced. I also began to ponder the impact and role epigenetics (the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself) has played in the African American community. I genuinely desire to know what appears to be the underlying fears of White America that have prohibited change. How long is long enough?
The beauty of this experience was I am now at a place of choice! I am profoundly grateful for this time of self-reflection for new awareness and the opportunity to engage in a self-inventory as it pertains to race. This process has allowed Me to remove my own mask, face my own denial and apathy while, simultaneously, affording Me the opportunity to experience the expansiveness of LOVE! You see, my initial reaction to ALL that has happened, in ALL OF my HUMANNESS was to allow anger, judgement and withdraw to set up house in My heart and mind. However, through prayer and My desire to honor My commitment to Be the LOVE I Have been created for Me to Be, I made a different choice. The beauty of the principle of choice is that through choice, things can be transformed through LOVE!
Now when I think of 2020, I immediately reference VISION, which has many meanings, and again my heart is filled with love, joy, and possibility. Vision, optimal vision, 20/20 vision, affords the opportunity to see things clearly and acquire corrective lenses if needed. Vision is also fertile ground to create that which is desired and play in the possibility of creating and manifesting something new!
With all of that being shared, I offer the following: Take a look at the distinctions that are made about Blackness– it is in those distinctions where information can be revealed, if, for example- whether consciously or unconsciously, contemplate what really makes “US” so different distinction are made? Because, and this IS My opinion, whether a black person is light skinned, well educated, at a high socio-economic status, is articulate and intelligent, does not mean their experience is any different than those who do not necessarily fall into ANY of those categories. Please be CLEAR, I fall into the aforementioned categories AND I am NO different than ANY other Black person because the FIRST thing anyone sees IS My Blackness. White America, you are truly at a place of choice.
Those of you who have black friends and are not completely sure about the BLM movement, I offer, does it take a personal relationship for the issues that others experience to matter? Take note, because any of your friends could have been a Breonna Taylor and your black male friends could be a George Floyd. Although, based on what many have shared via social media etcetera, and it is NOT my opinion, racism is embedded into the fiber of society and this country. History clearly demonstrates these ARE facts, and White Americans in this country – just have NOT had the same experience.
My experience of many White Americans is, there has been a lack of compassion, sensitivity, openness, and willingness to gain an alternative perspective. The level of dismissiveness to the experiences of People of Color has been awakening for which I am grateful, especially since that has not been my norm as My White friends desire to gain understanding. The beauty of everything that has occurred in our country is that I had My first experience of contemptuous views and I chose Love and My faith. AND I ALSO KNOW things can be different and the conversations CAN be had because I have engaged with many of my White friends and co-workers, with varying viewpoints, and when there is reciprocity, the experience of Love, connection, authenticity, understanding and growth has been profound. I will leave you with this:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (Harper Collins, 1992; from Chapter 7, Section 3)
Be Blessed, Be Love, Be Inspired! 😊