A restaurant in China is using President Obama’s image to sell fried chicken.
Problematic, yes, but it’s just the latest in the stream of indignities against this president… like the president and first lady being portrayed as apes in cartoons… or a congressman calling the president a liar during the state of the union.
Whether we agree with all his policies or not, we have to agree that this president has been accorded an unprecedented level of disrespect.
Disrespect, I submit, rooted in the long-standing and pernicious idea that Black people are just not the equals of white people.
Slavery and Jim Crow are over, but the myth of Black inferiority, which justified them both— is still very much with us—in the larger society and, worst of all, often, in our own minds in the form of internalized oppression…
That’s why the celebration of Community Healing Day, which is coming up next Friday through Sunday, is so crucial for our community.
Tom, this is the celebration sponsored by the Community Healing Network and championed by Dr. Maya Angelou that you helped support a couple of years ago at the Riverside Church in New York.
It’s a three day celebration on the third weekend of every October designed to mobilize Black people to overcome the lie of Black inferiority. That lie, and its devaluation of Black hair, Black skin, and every other aspect of Black people, is a root cause of the low self-esteem so many black people have, the black-white academic achievement gap, the mass incarceration of Black men, the epidemic of violence, and many of the other problems facing our community.
If we really want to reverse these negative trends, we’ve got to engage in a fearless struggle for our psychological liberation.
Over the past year, Community Healing Network has entered into collaborations with the Association of Black Psychologists, Tom Burrell’s Brainwash Resolution Project, and the City of Tuskegee, Alabama – to begin to create a nationwide grassroots network of self-help groups focused on emotional healing for Black people. Tuskegee, your hometown Tom, has set out to be the nation’s first community healing model city.
And all of this is happening, not a moment too soon.
As a people, we urgently need to focus on healing, in the face of all the lies and distortions of our beautiful African history.
We need to focus on healing because there are too many lies about Black people, lies we’ve been told and lies we’ve come to believe about ourselves.
We need to focus on healing because of the daily bombardment of negative, harmful media images of Black people.
We need to focus on healing even as we find ways to survive in an economic environment that has many of us jobless, homeless and looking for food. Even as we challenge the inequities in our legal system that encourage police brutality, high rates of black male imprisonment and the inexcusable execution of people like Troy Davis, in the face of reasonable doubt.
Yes, if we are serious about solving the problems of the Black community we have to get at the root cause, the poisonous idea that we are inferior, which has for centuries undermined our ability as a people to fully love ourselves and each other.
Put “time for healing” on your agenda. Celebrate Community Healing Days. Go to community healingnet.org to respond to Dr. Angelou’s call to Wear Sky Blue during Community Healing Days to support this movement for emotional emancipation and Black self-love.
I leave you with the words of poet June Jordan:
“The fact that I am Black means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.”
Until next time, this is Stephanie in love and hope.