My father was a racist as were his parents and his grandparents before him. I have no idea how far it goes back into the family line. Growing up a sensitive child in a racist household was not easy. I didn’t and to this day still don’t understand it.
We lived in the neighborhood a few miles from DC that was quite culturally diverse. This could have been a great thing except that my father was vocal about his racism. When he was angry at anything, his wife, his kids, the lawn mower, he would unleash a huge temper tantrum full of racially charged words as loud as he possibly could. I clearly remember an African-American girl walking down the street and the look on her face as she listened to my dad rage is etched into my brain. It didn’t have to be aimed at her for it to hurt. The whole neighborhood knew that my dad was a racist and by association so were the rest of the family.
More than once my sister and I were jumped by kids outraged over my father’s behavior. There was a group of kids that targeted me a few times until instead of trying to fight back I screamed “I AM NOT MY FATHER!!”. That moment shifted things as they too were caught in a world that made no sense. They were at the mercy of the adults, just as I was.
At school I had black friends but I had to keep them at arms length. I couldn’t go to their house and there was no way I was going to subject them to mine. It saddened me more than I can explain. I felt so out of place in that world. It didn’t feel right to not be able to be friends with whomever I wanted, yet I knew it had to be that way.
Eventually I grew up and the first chance I had, I left home. I got married and had a baby and I vowed I would not raise my children the same way. When my first born was 2 years old we took her into a toy store so she could pick out a toy. She chose a darker skinned baby doll. I had no problem with her having the doll but when my father saw it he was outraged. I calmly explained to him that I wouldn’t allow that talk and especially particular words to be used around my child. Amazingly he complied and I didn’t have to have the conversation again. I believe he knew I would take my child and not look back. I would have severed the relationship if need be.
Four short years later my father was dying of cancer. He only had 21 days between his diagnosis and his death. He didn’t have a lot of time to process and he was scared. At night he would have terror filled moments where he would cry out, try to get up and leave the hospital. The calcium levels in his body were so high that he would become delusional and say that he need to get up and go fishing as he was a Charter Boat Captain.
His roommate at the hospital was a black man with the kindest eyes and a patient demeanor. He would talk my dad through his panic attacks and would listen to his ramblings and fear. I knew this because in one of my dad’s lucid moments he told me about it. With eyes full of tears he told me that he had been stupid his entire life. That he had wasted so much of his life wrapped up in hate. He was surprised and ashamed that in his hour of need the one that gave him comfort was a black man and he knew that if it were reversed he may not have had the heart to do the same.
I am very grateful that my dad came to these realizations before he died. In my adult years I have done my best to see beyond color. Being able to see energy has helped tremendously with this. Seeing people equally is a lot easier when you can see a soul. However there are moments when the programming I received in childhood creeps up. I would catch myself being fearful particularly near black men. I would then calm my body’s reaction and choose to look at their energy, their heart. I would then feel such deep shame for that unwarranted reaction. It was such a vicious cycle. I’ve had to do a lot of forgiveness and inner child work to heal the little girl that was so programmed to fear and be separate from those not only of color but that were simply different.
Racism, hate, bigotry, and fear of another is taught. It’s not like It is taught in a classroom, it is much more insidious than that. You may be told fearful things about another race. You may be told that a group is going to take something from you like a job. You may even be told that if you associate with, play with, date or marry someone of a different race that you will be disowned. It can also come as jokes or sarcastic remarks. It comes in so many forms.
My consciousness rebelled against the things that I was hearing, but my subconscious was taking it all in. I don’t think I am alone in this. I think that there are many of us walking around with some sort of hidden programming that contributes to the separateness of this world. It is each person’s job to heal their programming, their ancestral DNA, and their trauma. As the racial tensions become magnified in this country, I hold deep sorrow because until each person can see where they have been programmed and choose different, things will not change. We have to look at the ancestry, the lineage and the belief systems in order to bring what keeps us separate into the light of day.
Now is the time to bring all that is hidden to light, so that it no longer holds power. It begins with a good look inward with incredible honesty. Until we right the division within each of us, there will be division in the collective. I am sending us all love and strength so that we do not get lost in the distractions, the rhetoric, or the blame but rather that we take a moment and heal all that is within us.
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