Being apart from my Boo is hard. I miss the way he makes me laugh, his pubescent inability to get out of the bed in the morning and his singular obsession with eating. This is why the continuous flow of details about the children who have been forcibly separated from their parents really has me shook. . .don’t even get me started on the travel ban.
Make no mistake, the reality that our government is actually doing this is traumatizing all of us. We are being abused. . .our collective psyche, our sense of humanity, our national identity, our very souls. I don’t believe that anyone, including those who have not seen the photos or heard the cries is immune to the damage. Not a one of us.
In an interview about his role in the film, Twelve Years a Slave, Michael Fassbender spoke about how his experience playing “a sadistic plantation owner was so harrowing, he passed out during filming. He said that the scene when he has to rape and beat a slave girl was too much to bear and he ‘keeled over’ in front of the film crew. “(Thompson:Sunday Express: 2013).
Take that in for a moment. An actor, who knows he is merely carrying out a scene, saying lines he had memorized and rehearsed, performing under the glare of lights and the commands of film crew members, was so overwhelmed by the act of inhumanity and violence that he had to simulate on a fellow actor that he PASSED OUT COLD.
As a black person in the United States, I am well aware of the legacy of the trauma of slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, mass incarceration, redlining, discrimination in housing, education and healthcare. And it takes a long time and a lot of work for black people to remember that we are, in fact, the descendants of kings and queens and scholars. The work and determination it takes to recover our souls from the trauma of white supremacist institutions is herculean, at best.
But what becomes of the souls of the perpetrators and the beneficiaries of this system?
What becomes of one’s soul when you call the police on an 8 year old black girl selling water?
. . .or when you yell “all Muslims must die” at two young Muslim girls on a train?
. . .or when you overlook a job candidate because of their seemingly Latino name?
. . .or when you gentrify a neighborhood, yet protest the diversification of the local school?
I used to believe that the way black people fought against the forces of oppression was to be the best, to work twice as hard and to prove to those in power that we had exceptional examples that defied the narratives of black pathology. It was a moment to moment discipline of minding what I said, minding what I wore, minding the condition of my hair and the prominence of my backside. Not anymore.
White supremacy is the pathology.
It is the air that we all breathe in the US. It alters our cells. It changes who we are and who we are meant to be. It traumatizes our psyche. It is a disease in our souls. . .individually and collectively.
Michael Fassbender’s own body could not deny that fact.
It is only through the persistent dismantling of white supremacist thinking and being and doing that we can recover our souls. . .individually and collectively. It has to be a moment to moment discipline of examining one’s thinking and being and doing. . .led by the white people in this country.
It is only in recovering your souls that you will help all of us save ours. . .individually and collectively.