As a counselor dedicated to the practice of bringing healing to individuals who have suffered from all manner of pain: emotional, mental, physical, sexual, social and legal, I wish to be clear that I support the anti-racism mission represented by “Black Lives Matter.”
Recent protests about violence against Black people have gained momentum and more widespread visibility as a result of an unfortunate resurgence of brazen public murderous actions of those in power and control against Black lives. Even if I am not on the front lines of protests, I can hear the pain generated by these voices that stems from centuries of slavery, murder, abuse and exploitation by those in power.
Anti-Racism Is Everyone’s Responsibility
We need to encourage dialogue about racism and look for solutions in everyday situations. To remain silent will abet wrongdoing. Similar to the dynamics in a family system where domestic violence or sexual abuse occurs, the perpetrator thrives when no one acknowledges that the abuse is taking place. Similar to remaining silent about sexism, discrimination against women who can never advance past an invisible ceiling in the workplace will continue, unless affirmative action is implemented.
As a Puerto Rican woman born and raised in NYC, my history also reflects abuses of power in the colonization of Puerto Rico and its present state of exploitation by the colonizers. Due to the multi-racial lineage of Puerto Ricans, we are often referred to as the “rainbow people.” Therefore, I have witnessed the privilege granted to me for my own fair skin, and the discrimination and abuse against my brown skinned children. I have listened to non-black people deny racism exists, simply because they have “always treated all people nicely.” This kind of ignorance and defensiveness is not acceptable.
“Anti-racism is an active and conscious effort to work against multidimensional aspects of racism,”Robert J. Patterson, professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University
We should review slave history in the USA and find different sources to update our education about the current impact of racism in its many forms. We need to be aware of at least 4 types of racism: internalized, interpersonal, institutional and systemic racism.
I remain open to learn about ways to stand in solidarity with anti-racism, as an individual and as a counselor. I invite you to do the same.