Monday, October 7, 2013

From the Archives: A Retreat to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy

Beyond Black Rage/White Supremacy
Anger and rage are the dominant emotions expressed at the Pan African Mental Health Peer Group sessions to recover from the addiction to white supremacy. The initial emotion is joy due to the relief and excitement of persons finding themselves in a safe space to express themselves, finally and freely. The consensus in such a space has been long overdue and why has it taken so long to figure out the solution to an unbearable situation of stultification.
What a relief to be in a space where persons can speak and be heard, accepted and not rejected or told they are too angry or too emotional. Poetically speaking, it is as though they have been standing in the rain but finally someone has arrived with an umbrella.
As each addict to white supremacy does his/her check-in, anger is clearly the dominant emotion, with women expressing the most severe degree of outrage, the men maintain their well known cool pose until they go deeper into their testimony, then we see their rage equals if not surpasses that of the women. There are those of both genders who want to do acts of violence to white society. They are pissed at the hostile environment on the job and want to attack their boss or co-workers. Again, they are overjoyed to be in a space where their anger can be expressed without recrimination.
There are those upset at the recent arrival of white people in the hood. They don’t understand why the white people are there, how they got there, and why nothing can be done to get them out, such as burning down their houses or even burning crosses on their lawns, such is the severity of the rage—totally irrational, making those addicted a danger to themselves and others.
Some of the blacks addicted to white supremacy are angry at other blacks. They cannot understand the negative behavior of blacks, why they are killing each other nightly, why youth are out of control, or why the police harass them for simply being black.
Of course violence is the ultimate result of anger and rage, and there are quite a few men and women forced into court mandated anger management classes. Homicide and suicide are clearly on the rise, especially as we slip into the worldwide recession/depression, for tension is heightened, frustration is deep because many persons cannot decipher a solution to their economic woes. Misplaced aggression is the order of the day because the cause is never attacked such as blood sucking oil companies, scheming and scamming mortgage companies who graciously gave sub-prime loans only to foreclose, and the perennial wage slave bosses. More often the object of rage is the wife, another brother or sister in the hood who is just as frustrated as the victimizer.
Obama’s run for president has given hope to some in the hood, but many can see how racism is tearing him down at every turn, even his wife has been attacked for saying she only of late is she proud of being an American, as if we owe America the Nobel Peace prize for oppressing us through the centuries down to the present moment.
Even his pastor is ridiculed for having black consciousness and teaching liberation theology—so what if some of his sermons crossed the line of propriety, according to white American standards. If Obama is harmed, look for the ghettoes of America to explode from anger and rage.
The Retreat to Recover
At a  retreat to recover from the addiction to white supremacy, peer group members expressed joy at escaping the city to the country, finding themselves in nature, seeing pine trees standing tall, upright, the sound of water flowing in the creek, the beautiful rolling hills, cows grazing in the distance, lizards running about—bowing up and down as if in salat (prayer), the mighty hawk gliding above our heads, deer and wild turkey outside the window, stars in the night sky, a phenomena never seen in the smog filled city.
After observing the wonder of God, a peer group member said she was beginning to finally understand there was no need to be angry at white people, she now felt the urgent need to recover her mental balance so she could follow her bliss, not spend time in anger and rage due to her hostile environment and the resulting addiction to white supremacy, the cause of much stress, disease and death.
Overpowered by the beauty of nature, she saw the need to focus on her destiny as a divine being in harmony with the beauty in her midst. She said a light had come on in her head so that she see clearly now the infinite possibilities of life.
The retreat began with the ritual entering the gate of the land, stopping at the creek for a moment of silence to ponder the sound of water, acknowledge the ancestors, to say a prayer asking permission to be on the land:
The group walked up the hill to the meeting house where a meal awaited them: baked salmon, baked chicken, brown rice, bean vegetable soup and potato salad, carrot juice, sweet water from the well.
Grace: We acknowledge the Creator and thank Him for the breath of life, thank Him for the beauty of life, thank Him for the intelligence and wisdom we are blessed with, thank Him that we have the consciousness to desire unity with our brothers and sisters in America, Africa and the Diaspora, thank Him that in spite of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism, we yet have African and spiritual consciousness and are determined to make the cultural revolution a success; thank Him for keeping us on the straight path to national liberation and Pan African liberation . . . (from Step 11, p. 92).
After the meal, the group unpacked and began a session of biblo-therapy, a discussion of the 13 Steps to recover from the addiction to white supremacy.
Step 1
We admit we are not powerless over self hatred, racism and white supremacy thinking, but our lives have become unmanageable, partly because we live in denial and fear.
Denial is quite simply the evasion of reality. Denial can be personal or communal, for sometimes an entire nation can be in denial about its abominations, for they are too painful to make adjustments in the collective psyche and the personal reality, to do so would incriminate the mythology and ritual of said society, thus the normal daily round would be disrupted and dysfunctional, for painful adjustments would be in order, and as long as we can avoid the painful the better, after all, the status quo can be maintained. . . .
But in our grand denial, blacks as well as whites will attempt to convince the world this point of view is left wing poppycock, the thoughts of a disgruntled segment of black Americans who have failed to enjoy the benefits of capitalism, now globalism--no matter the disparities in birth and death, education, wage parity, housing, health care, homicide and suicide--in every aspect of Americana.
(from "Race: The Grand Denial," unpublished essay by Dr. M)
Fear is the residue of slavery, the torture, rape, murder, the mores of submission and passivity whipped into our ancestors and elders and transmitted through DNA to the present generation who live in fear of white authority, especially the police who are the modern day slave catchers. But fear remains as the single most element that prolongs white supremacy. We fear each other, we fear success, we fear to do for self or to attempt self sufficiency on the economic level—for how shall we live without a paycheck from the white man, how shall we make it? We fear associating with a black radical brother or sister, after all, the white man is watching us always, he has spies tracking our every move, we are certain of it. . . . We fear the woman and man we love, for surely they will betray us, it is only a matter of time, they are going to cross us, so we cannot trust them ever, no matter how much they say they love us and no matter how much we love them. We cannot unite with the brotherhood or sisterhood because we fear something is surely to go wrong, money will be stolen, our wife or girlfriend will run off with another brother.
(from How to Recover, Step 1, page 30)
With respect to fear, the group was asked to do an exercise to dispel fear of each other. They were told to give each other a massage as they sat at the conference table. The purpose was to help them get to know each other. This exercise was said to be one of the highlights of the retreat. It relaxed everyone, making them feel safe.
Step 2
We have come to believe that a power within ourselvesfor we are within God and God is within uscan restore us to sanity, freedom, self-determination, independence and nationhood as a Pan African people, as spiritually conscious human beings. 
Nothing and no one can help us until we are ready to help ourselves. Even God tells us we must take the first step, then He will take ten. . . . We must call upon that power within to restore us to sanity, to cast away our fears, the inferiority complex we have allowed to master our soul as a result of believing the white supremacy hype. We must call upon the power within and the Higher Power without, call it God, Allah, Jesus, Jah, whatever, whomever, just know we must tune into the source of spiritual power to overcome our addiction to white supremacy that has us disunited, hateful, selfish, greedy, with hearts full of evil and murder. In such a state of mind, how can we be successful in life, certainly we are in no condition to love or to be loved. We are a wretched wretch and of no good to ourselves or anyone else. In such a mental state, we cannot think of freedom, justice, self-determination, independence. . . . So we call upon the Higher Power to heal our sick minds and hearts. . . .
Step 3
We have made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand it: that God is a power within ourselves. Yes is the message to ourselves, yes, the magic word. . . .
Find a place to be silent, silent as the trees, as the wind, as the rolling hills. Meditate on the purpose of this retreat, on the purpose of your life.
The language is silence. It speaks louder than words. Sometimes it is better to say nothing, let life reveal itself. . . . Sometimes the mouth cannot keep quiet. It must chatter out of fear not being heard. Yet one is heard in the silence. It is when one talks that one is not heard. The eyes speak, the heart, the hands, the feet speak. Hear the feet running in fear. Hear the feet running in love. Hear the arms moving in hate. You do not talk to me, yet I hear everything you say. No, no, no, that is all you say. Everything about you is no. Your lips say no, your eyes, your heart, your mind, your arms, legs, feet. You are a no person. I run from you. You say no to God. . . . When you say yes to life you open the world of infinite possibilities. Yes to love. Yes to success, yes to hope, yes to truth, yes to prosperity, yes to divinity, yes to resurrection, yes to ascension, yes to eternity…. Yes is the language of God. Yes is the language of Divinity, Spirituality.
All the prophets said yes. Adam said yes. Abraham said yes. Moses said yes. Solomon said yes. Job said yes. Jeremiah, Isaiah said yes . . . Jesus said yes, Muhammad . . . Elijah and Malcolm, Martin, Garvey, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth said yes. Fannie Lou and Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott said yes. Mama and daddy said yes, grandma and grandpa said yes. All the ancestors said yes. Forevermore, let go of no and say yes. Dance to yes. Shout to yes. . . .
(from Beyond Religion, Toward Spirituality, Dr. M)
All negativity in the family must cease immediately because it is not of the Most High and cannot be redeemed in the temple of holiness. Fly into the winds Pan Africa, fly into the winds of the Most High and be as one with the wind, yes, even that whirlwind Garvey told you about that was sure to come and has come, let us rejoice. Say again, we are within the Higher Power and the Higher Power is within us. Say again, the tide is turning because we are turning the tide. Ache, Amen, Amin, Hotep.
Step 4
We shall make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves . . .
We can never stand tall until we face all the truth about ourselves, as Sun Ra taught, the low down dirty truth, that is what we want to examine, for the plain truth is not good enough, rather, we want to low down funky truth. Cornel West says everybody wants to hide the funk, tame the funk, disguise the funk, but we are only enabled and empowered when the funk comes through. . . .
A sister volunteered to clean the funk in the house. She said this would be her contribution to the retreat. So she began to clean the dust, the spider webs, the grime, the clutter. Others joined her, but she took the lead. Amina Baraka said, “The only way you can clean the funk is to get down and clean the funk!”
We cannot be healed until we clean the funk in our lives, the baggage, the waste, the clutter that prevents us from thinking clearly, from hearing the voice of God when He speaks to us. Why are you still praying when God has already answered? You are blocking the message to your mind—you are blocking your blessings with your filth, yet you want to be in heaven. For too long my patron has begged me to clean up so God can bless me in a big way! So I thank the sisters who came like angels to help me clean up my act. Surely God will not bless us until we stop acting ungratefully, until we take a complete inventory of ourselves and make corrections to qualify for our blessings.
After reading and discussing several more steps, the facilitator asked the group to apply white paint on their faces and walk to the pond, a short distance into the woods. One person resisted taking the walk but finally submitted, and once at the pond was overjoyed she had decided to come. The walk to the woods and arriving at the pond full of clear water from the mountain transformed her spirit and the spirit of all present. One person wanted to shout so she did. On the other side of the pond cows were grazing. The bull roared as if to reply to her shout. Turtles stuck their heads out of the water. One person conversed with them. The turtles lingered, then disappeared only to reappear.
Upon returning from the pond, the group continued reading the steps. Step 5 caused persons to break down. This step involves admitting to God and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. When the facilitator read the text about apologizing for being a dope dealer, a sister confessed that she too had been a dope dealer and apologized to those persons whose lives she destroyed.
She began to cry and had to be comforted.
When the facilitator read from the text the apology to black teachers and professors, another person testified she had been mean and cruel to her college professors and apologized. She too began to cry and had to be comforted.
The retreat ended with the ritual washing of the white paint off the faces. During the retreat, the facilitator received a call from poet Amiri Baraka, and when he was asked to give a message to the group, said simply, “White off!” And so it is.
But the retreat revealed a problem deeper than the addiction to white supremacy, for after all, white supremacy is an illusion for no one is superior to another, thus the old folks said white people suffer lunacy and should be left alone, as one does the crazy uncle in the family. The Holy Qur’an says, “Leave them alone in their inordinacy blindly wandering on. . . . ”
The real problem for Pan Africans is to ascend from the animal plane to our divine self, to be in this world but not of it, to strive to express our greatness, to defy the hostile environment by not giving energy to it—expel the anger and rage with love, but be always on the alert and wear the armor of God, only then can we walk untouched through the valley of the shadow of death, only then can we sit in the presence of our enemies, yet our cup shall overflow with goodness and mercy, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ache.
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If you or your group would like to attend a retreat to recover from the addiction to white supremacy, call Dr. M at 510-200-4164. Email: Order his book HOW TO RECOVER FROM THE ADDICTION TO WHITE SUPREMACY, foreword by Dr. Nathan Hare, afterword by Ptah Allah El, Black Bird Press, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley CA, $19.95.

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