Birth of a Nation , to be released today, is by all accounts a powerful film that has the potential to stir up emotions and memories
Birth of a Nation, to be released today, is by all accounts a powerful film that has the potential to stir up emotions and memories. It is our responsibility as Black people to make sure that, whatever our reaction, we ultimately take charge of our experiences in ways that are enlightening, healing, empowering-- and draw upon our indelible resilience.
We at Community Healing Network (CHN) and the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) want to help make sure the film serves as a pathway to healing, and does not exacerbate the trauma that our beloved community has been experiencing in recent weeks and months-and over the course of nearly five centuries.
Our perceptions are real. Our emotional wellbeing matters. Our collective healing is essential. Our ties to each other are our medicine. Sharing our feelings with one another is a necessary radical act. As Zora Neal Hurston said: "If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it." So let us turn to one another for sharing, comfort, inspiration, and healing.
Here our most urgent messages for viewers of this film:
Our feelings are real and warranted.
Our feelings have emerged out of more than 400 years of systemic racial oppression rooted in the lie that Black people are inferior to White people.
We cannot overcome this oppression overnight, but, as a community of elders and young people, we can work together to free ourselves emotionally--and completely. None but ourselves can free our minds.
We need to respect and understand the psychological and emotional effects of racial oppression so that we do not fall into traps laid for us by the system---and hurt ourselves and/or loved ones.
The first step toward healing is to acknowledge the racial trauma, stress, anger, pain, frustration, and hurt that we are experiencing, and recognize how these might affect our feelings, our thinking, our actions, and our interactions.
If we understand how the system of racial oppression affects us, then we can strategically and collectively take the necessary steps to short-circuit the system; taking full control of our hearts and our minds; acting instead of reacting.
One way to begin to do this is to honestly and sincerely ask ourselves with respect to everything we do, "is this good for me and is this good for Black people." If the answer is no, don't do it.