I began to fumble around the many subjects to cover in the world of Organizational Health and Development when I couldn’t help but face the huge brick wall that was blocking my mind. It was one week to the day when I first received notice of another African American man being killed while in police custody. Another one.
My mind hasn’t stopped racing and with the matching headache, my body is tense. I initially tried to figure out whether my dinner didn’t agree with me because of that awful feeling that was settling into the pit of my stomach as well. This time, it wasn’t the food. It was the DNA in my blood that was beginning to boil and cause an unsettled feeling in every cell of my body. I identify myself as an African American woman – not a Black American. My family heritage goes back in time to an untraveled area in sub-Saharan Africa and I have the daily pains of Sickle Cell Disease to show for it. I am not just a black person in America, I also have the family history of cotton picking and scars of slavery to show for it. In my veins, I have the advantage of surviving malaria, but the genetic imprint of trauma associated with slavery and groans of Civil Rights trailblazers who never imagined we’d still be fighting long after they’ve passed on.
At this moment, I attempt to work through the trigger response of pain, anger, hopelessness, grief, and dissonance of country, because of yet another senseless murder of people who look like me. Will I be able to show up for my patients and clients while maintaining my composure? I live in a world where I am repeatedly marginalized, regardless of being the “kind of black person they’ll allow at the table”. I find myself venting to my village about micro-aggressions and blatant discrimination as a regular component of my work-life balance and resiliency toolbox. Behind closed doors and during the meeting after the meeting, the yearning for enough becoming enough globally seems far fetched. But is it?
I want to encourage those in the African American community, those who identify as persons of color, and those of varying shades who identify as our allies who are peacefully protesting for equality, justice, and peace. We must continue to take care of ourselves, spread awareness and have discussions surrounding the racial disparities, and rise strong! Just as I sometimes feel a loss of hope, let’s continue to encourage ourselves, reach out for help when you need it, and reignite the spirit of perseverance and resilience, Trouble will not last forever – change WILL come!
As a woman of faith, I have come to understand and believe the following scriptures to be true, regardless of what it may LOOK or FEEL like:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Prov. 3:5 KJV
“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you…” Luke 6:27 KJV
I hope the readers of this special issue find a way to be the light in the midst of the darkness because light produces more light.
“Light up the darkness” – Bob Marley