The continuing open discussions on slavery reparations are particularly important for our VI community. The "process" involved in reparations is an important one. It provides a vehicle for injustices to be addressed, expressed and shared with the world. History, sadly, recounts many horrible acts that mankind has done to each other usually for either power, control or monetary gain. Sadder still, is that it continues into the 21st. Century.
There is much value to everything that has been said in the Source about reparations, however, much of it is related to the "intellectual" realm of understanding. Understanding the effects of slavery on the "emotional" realm, as well as its continual effect on present generations, is necessary if we are to truly bring compassion and healing to this complicated issue.
Slavery ripped and clawed at both the heart and spirit of the black race and created many deep wounds. To say that slavery has not impacted the present is to be in complete denial. Somehow, somewhere-we have decided that since it is now over, we simply need to "move on". That is not how healing occurs. Slavery was the worse kind of violation-cruel physical and emotional abuse systematically done to a race of people throughout a long, duration of generations without ever saying a sincere apology or making amends.
There are so many deep personal wounds still deeply felt. Many have been buried. Sadly, emotions can't be buried. Like a cancer-emotions ignored-grow and fester within-distorting what is perceived in the outside world. Human beings who carry unresolved, deep emotional pain and issues tend to act them out unconsciously- projecting that pain outwards. That is at the base of many social issues. Many blacks, to their great credit and depth of character have found their way to greatness in spite of the atrocities of slavery here. Our own African/Caribbean Elders here on St. John have developed a depth of faith, grace and spirit that I personally stand in awe of. There is a collective anger that understandably exists because very little has ever been done to acknowledge or emotionally heal this pain of the past. Why are we as "white people" so afraid to admit or say "I am so sorry" for the past pain of slavery and it's impact on our present? The process of all emotional healing requires that we as human being feel our pain-especially hurt, anger and rage-if we are to heal ourselves emotionally.
These "emotional wounds" need the balm of understanding, compassion, self-awareness and time to healing. Blacks and whites have "danced" dysfunctional "steps" together with each other for way too long. At its core is the slavery issue. Though important strides were made during the civil rights era-somehow, the work was left undone. Some whites still do not emotionally understand slavery's impact on the present and tend to minimize it. Perhaps, deep down inside there is confusion ladened with resentment for being "blamed for slavery". Some blacks have gone beyond exasperation and anger to a rage at not feeling heard or listened to. This results in an emotional stalemate. Too often-our intellectual arguments fail to get at the "heart" of this issue. Much more is required. Because emotional awareness is an area where most human beings still struggle-we become "stuck". Only our hearts can free us-when we honestly own our feelings and are willing to move beyond them to meet with the feelings of others. Deep, honest dialog along with a heart-felt apology-can begin real healing between the races. I believe that the black race deserves an apology for this historical injustice.
Those human beings- whether black or white- who have the most awareness, compassion and understanding will have to reach out to others-and become the "bringers of light" to this very important and sensitive issue. Reparations is the right process to begin this emotional journey of healing for us all.
Coral Bay, St. John
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