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The Power of Lived Experience

Caged in a society that does not see us as we are.

Hey folks! I hope this post finds you healing & finding center within your world. With everything that is happening in the world now I'd be remiss not to make a post about it. I also want to help those who do not understand gain insight into the harm that they are causing. Hell they may already know, but there are those who want to understand but don't have the lived experience to help them fully grasp it for themselves. Let's dive in shall we?

Things I Notice

I'm noticing lots of people having discussions, debates, arguments, & downright violent interactions. The vein that runs through all of the happenings is the denial of a person's or persons' lived experience on both sides. I want to talk about how we as a species are not doing too well at accepting another's lived experience. I think this is a pretty simple concept but so many people are discrediting the lived experiences of BIPOCs (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) that it's absolutely heartbreaking & enraging to me. I saw a post on Facebook (yes Facebook) that made me talked about the financial amends that had been made to groups that had been harmed by those in power who took from them. I have turned to researching the Holocaust & the intentional attempted extermination of the Native American population by Americans as they "discovered" America. As I looked at the dates on these issues, when they began & ended or will end, all had end dates or projected end dates. The category of slavery, Jim Crow, & convict leasing had 1865-Present & $0 by it to denote the dollars that had been paid in amends or reparations to African Americans. This told me that while the world recognizes the atrocities of the Holocaust & invasion of indigenous lands & are willing to make amends, they DO NOT recognize African Americans nor the atrocities that we suffered for a significantly longer period of time & still suffer from as a reason to make financial amends.

That says something about the perceived value of a people doesn't it? The Africans that were brought to this country & we their ancestors have suffered more violence at the hands of those in power than all other abused communities combined & yet not even an apology has formally been issued or anything done to right these wrongs. My blood boils when I think about this because the insidiousness of the way that Black people were systematically divided, enslaved, raped (both men & women), & killed still affects us to this day. NO ONE IN POWER WITHIN OUR SUPREME GOVERNING BODY HERE IN THE UNITED STATES WILL EFFECTIVELY ADDRESS THIS ISSUE. I also read that the Dutch Prime Minister

has promised that the tradition of Black Petes will be eradicated within the country within a few years. He understands the value of dismissing harmful traditions no matter how ingrained they are in a society. You cannot effectively address an issue until it is acknowledged for what it truly is. When I watched Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary's research on Post Traumatic Slave Disorder it really solidified what I knew to be true of my people. This is exactly where the founding fathers wanted us to be. It was no mistake that we have landed where we are. It was very intentional & by design.

Understanding the above mentioned points that I encourage you to look into for yourselves is crucial to understanding the position of black people which comes from their lived experience. Lived experience is something that is subjective to the person having it meaning that outsiders do not get to define that person's experience. When it is a collective experience such as the experience of African Americans then it is even more damaging to try to deny it or interpret it through your bias. After-all you have not walked a day in the shoes of an African American. How could you? It's impossible right? Even as an African American who is denying how very difficult it is to be black in America you have a different experience from others. We cannot deny your experience of not having to live with this or your immersion in a system that has convinced you that you are not effected. So even you cannot refute a person's lived experience.

Having Conversations

I had the racism conversation with a white friend of mine & as I began to ask what her response is to seeing a dark skinned black man with long locs without knowing him was, I was greeted with an unexpected response. She said I'm terrified but I have reason to be. I bristled at what I thought would be the beginning of a racist justification. However, she went on to explain how she had suffered trauma from an experience that involved African American males killing someone very close to her. She was therefore admittedly terrified. When she told me this I immediately softened. I understood why she was terrified because she had the lived experience of this. So I told her honey I understand that completely. She said but I'm afraid that if I admit I'm terrified then people will automatically assume I'm racist. This is what I gently told her: Your experience is your experience & just like the work that I help trauma survivors do in the present I asked her is she doing work to not categorize ALL Black men in this way. She better understood where I was coming from when I approached it from this perspective because she is a survivor herself. She said you are right, I need to work on that belief thank you for being willing to explain it like that.

The Human Tendency

The point of all of this is to bring to light the fact that humans have the tendency to discount other people's experiences when cognitive dissonance steps into the arena. Cognitive Dissonance is defined as the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change. America is full of it right now. Do not get discouraged it is something we can choose to move beyond by becoming armed with the truth & facts about a situation. Truth involves lived experience, fact involves evidenced based information. I say this because a lot of white people used science to try to prove that black people were inferior. These were opinions that were not truly based in scientific study but rooted in cognitive dissonance for those treating slaves in such a horrible manner. One of these "facts" was that the foundation of humanity was white because the skull bones are white...all bones are white just like all blood runs red. It was believed for a long time that we were inferior & lazy when many of our ancestors were quite literally worked to death.

Take the time to question why you believe what you believe. If we can learn a behavior or develop a belief we can also unlearn it. Being willing to consider another person's experience & just being quiet can help a lot in healing your wounds & theirs. The time for healing & change is now.

Recommended Reading & Viewing

Post Traumatic Slave Disorder- YouTube Video by Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary

The Willie Lynch Letter & The Making of a Slave- Book by Willie Lynch

8:46- YouTube Special by Dave Chappelle

13th- Netflix Documentary

This is a list that I will add to this list often.

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