The Healing Journeys of Racism
Subjugated or Subjugator, there's a Healing Journey for Everyone:
Often when we are subjugated, (considered less than, oppressed, abused, or anything of the like) we tend to adopt a ‘I am less than' or 'my worth is less than,' perspective of self. We are typically unconscious of this until someone points it out to us.
Let’s consider the thoughts we have of others. Let’s consider a subjugating thought where there is a general looking downward at someone. Maybe it’s obvious racism and it’s because of their skin color. Maybe it’s less obvious. Maybe they turned a couple of words around (in a stressful moment) and now we’ve assumed they’re intelligence is subpar.
Generally, people are not aware of what another is thinking of them. However, this mindset or belief changes how a person treats and ultimately subjugates the other person. While the subjugated person isn’t necessarily conscious of the other person’s belief, they always feel it in how they are treated and talked to. With this continued treatment, the subjugated come to believe that in some way, shape, or form, they truly are inferior as a human being.
We are here and therefore we are justified in being present.
We are not less than or inferior. Just because someone says so or we are continually treated as inferior, doesn’t mean this is true. We ourselves can reject this belief. It is unfounded! Look at where it is coming from. Those people that are or were in our lives that abused us, oppressed us, dehumanized us, or whatever the subjugation was; it was completely unfounded. Not to give them an excuse but they are drowning in their fear and self-hatred. What comes from them is nonsense and only spreads hurtful chaos. We are giving credit where it is not due.
For those who’ve struggled with being subjugated all or most of their lives, they typically take on the belief that they are less than. They may vehemently argue otherwise but the truth is, we all tend to believe we are less than in some way shape or form. We don’t have the perfect body. We don’t believe we’re intelligent. We feel some of our unique features are a bit off or subpar. We were told by a parent or teacher that we were not good at… and we still believe this to be true. We are giving our power to someone who doesn’t know anything and reacted to us out of fear. It would be nonsensical to follow or believe that their nonsense is accurate. Why? Let find out.
When someone hates themselves and are fearful of being rejected, they reject another person based on a quick and thoughtless judgement. This judgment helps to take away the sting of they themselves being rejected. Often these judgements are based on physical appearances, race, clothing, mannerisms, how they talk, etc. The judgement has a belittling quality. The judgements often follow stereotypes.
If the person being judged has some qualities that is well liked by others, the judgement is usually harsher. A rejection from a person respected and well accepted by many really triggers their fear and self-hatred. Their self-hatred comes from shame and guilt in their past.
Two Healing Journeys
For a person who is subjugating, their challenge is becoming aware of their misunderstanding of their superiority over others. Then they are faced with the challenge of having the integrity to accept who they have been. And they are finally faced with the challenge of accepting who they really are.
For the subjugated, their challenge is becoming aware of the untrue beliefs they have adopted. Then they are faced with the challenge of taking back their power often in the face of subjugators. They too are faced with the challenge of accepting who they really are.
The Common Ground
Accepting our rightful and justified self is difficult because there is often so much misunderstanding in the way. Accepting the person we were always meant to be is the common challenge both the subjugator and subjugated face.
I realize this person who we were meant to be might be vague to some but we all can feel that person we felt when we were little. We were born being this person and it was our life experiences that said this is good so keep this but toss this because it’s not useful or it’s bad. We had a sense of our true self as young child before we started rejecting pieces of ourself as inferior or not of worth.
As the subjugated we can look and form beliefs that suggest that the subjugators are less than. We have essentially fallen into the same trap the subjugator has. This increases fear and self-hatred.
Keep in mind, many people would rather stay in the familiar even if they are deeply misunderstanding their world and their place in it. So, the subjugators will continue to subjugate and the subjugated will continue to believe that they are inferior. Racism is sustained and life is very difficult for everyone.
Challenge your understanding of others and yourself.
Remedy for Stagnation
What does this look like? Sit down and write 4 questions and answers:
1. ‘Who do I see myself as superior to or better than?’
2. And then ask, ‘why?’
This isn’t easy as this means having some integrity and coming face to face with who we have been. It might mean that we have to admit we were wrong. Some apologies and amends may need to be made. The other option is to go back to a “comfortable life” of misunderstanding. Many do because these questions are that challenging to our fears.
3. ‘Who do I see as better than me?’
4. And the follow up question is ‘why?’
All these questions apply to not only race but gender, culture, sexual orientation, age (kids/elderly), physical ability, socioeconomic status, language, and so on. People can subjugate for any reason and it doesn’t have to make any sense.
In order for this to work, we have to answer the questions with integrity. Lying or skipping over the questions is a sign of our fear. Face your fears and be honest with yourself. Nobody is going to look at these or review these; this is for your healing journey. If you cheat this, you are cheating yourself. Whenever we see nonsense like this, it’s safe to say we’ve got some fears to work through.
We may not be able to answer these questions and can only place maybe a name or two in a particular list. Pay attention throughout your day. Notice when you look down on someone. Maybe start with those that are younger than you. We may discover that we subjugate a lot more than we thought. It’s a lot more common than many think. But don’t worry, you can change this now that you’re aware of it. This is a true sign of healing, having the courage to change what we’ve become aware of. Life gets so much easier this way.
Folks healing from subjugating others will come face to face with their fears and self-hatred. May I suggest seeing a psychological healthcare provider to walk through this difficult path. There are often things like hidden trauma or forgotten experiences in our past that have initiated this fear and self-hatred.
This is true for both healing journeys.
Realizing your misunderstandings is empowering and this usually drives the subjugated to push further to clear up their misunderstandings. However, it can be difficult to adjust to accepting your rightful power, especially in the face of subjugation. Many cultures of color have strong values on humility. It can feel awkward accepting our rightful power. There’s also a lot of hurt, anger, and trauma that often comes up when we take back our rightful power as human beings.
Healing Journeys are not Exclusive
By writing these questions and answers down we are initiating this healing journey. It’s going to be very challenging for both parties. Know that your healing journey can involve both journeys. You may be healing from oppression as a person of color but your sense of superiority as a cisgendered male may put your healing journey on the other path as well. These journeys are not exclusive and often overlap for most everyone.
A Note on a Grey Area
Let me clear up a grey area for some. Say you have a specific way in teaching children that differs from someone in a different culture. Just because you prefer your way doesn’t mean your subjugating the other parent. It’s just a simple understanding that their way works for them and meets their cultural values and your way works for you and meets your cultural values. There is no subjugating. There is an equality here and a mutual acceptance of each other.
We all, regardless of race, culture, background and so on; are equally justified in our existence. Many of us are working on becoming who we were always meant to be and healing our misunderstandings. Some of us are vehemently clamoring to maintain our misunderstandings because it feels familiar and safe.
We are one in the same situation but we are coming at it from different paths.
The sooner each of us move through our healing process the better all our mental health will be.