Forget Positivity. Black People Have a Right and Need to Rage and Protest. This is Their Time for Healing.

Forget Positivity. Black People Have a Right and Need to Rage and Protest. This is Their Time for Healing.

In regards to healing, the way out is the way through. It’s not necessarily about feeling better, but being better able to feel the full magnitude of what the body has kept at bay. 

There are some voices out there insinuating that the Black Lives Matter riots are problematic because, due to the law of attraction, they bring more violence to those involved. Violence attracts more violence. People “should not” be expressing their pain this way. That there should be a more “positive” or “constructive” way for Black people to express their anguish. 

So I need to offer a trauma resolution informed perspective, here. 

When I assist people with their healing in my practice, and they, for example, uncover memories of sexual abuse, in every case they are confronted with anger. Often there is rage. There is a voice in them that wants to scream “How dare you!!” To their grandfather, to their uncle, to their sibling, “How DARE you do this to me!!” The voice of protest starts to unlock, the voice that couldn’t cry out, scream because, decades ago, the body was powered over. 

Now imagine if in the midst of rage rising up I said to my client that they “should” consider a more “positive way” to process being molested as a three year old. That they ought to be “constructive” in expressing suppressed protest in their nervous system and musculature that still needs to push, kick and scream. Maybe, in my pollyanna redirection and reframe, I’d suggest that the molester was likely molested himself; that he didn’t know any better. Or that my client needed that experience to become who they are today. Perhaps I’d urge my client to just talk about their feelings in a mature, levelled fashion instead of getting “too upset”, instead of giving the body what it needs to release its trapped survival responses. All the while I caution that if too much rage comes out, the law of attraction will bring negative experiences to match the low vibrations of this “negative” emotion. 

How well do you think this would work?

The body doesn’t lie. Suppress the body and you suppress the truth, a truth that hurts, and that must find its expression vocally and through completing suppressed survival responses. Suppress people for generations, their voice, their tortured agony, systemically, and you have ground for a volcanic release. 

Now, let’s go to the macro level. 

Imagine all of humanity as being one big body. And a large portion of that body, Black people, reach a tipping point where the rage from generations of violence erupts at the surface. What we’re seeing is just this. The suppressed trauma in the collective is surfacing (as partly facilitated by COVID-19). The divisions compartmentalizing me from you, from all our brothers and sisters, are reaching their expiry date. We are quickening past the days of living unconsciously as a fragmented, disconnected species. The unconscious is becoming conscious, the disowned aspects of Self are integrating. Rage is surfacing, perhaps stronger than ever before, from the denied woundedness of Black people and in the collective body of humanity. 

Individually and collectively, it’s happening at once.

And so given all this, who are we, as white folks, to tell Black people how they ought to express their rage?

I know what you may be thinking…

No, I don’t encourage my clients to destroy my office; to break windows and punch holes in my or other walls to release their rage and trauma. I’d prefer they didn’t. Yet, as contradictory as my words may seem, it’s very idyllic to expect Black people to act according to our limited law of attraction-informed, pollyanna preferences for protest and raging. Please, let’s be realistic. We’re talking about generations upon generations of systemic torture and oppression. Do you really believe, as things stand now, it can be a peaceful protest, a “constructive” release of red hot primal energy? Do you really believe that all the angry Black people are going to make their way to a therapist’s cozy office or to a men’s group, woman’s circle, elder or shaman to help them release their rage in a contained way? 

Obviously not! Not in this global climate. Not in an individualistic Western world where few are prepared for the sheer enormity of sickness that needs liberation. 

Difficult as it is to watch, we must expect the pendulum to swing way past centre. It has to if people are to listen. Shallow positivity assumes that significant intergenerational pain can quickly rest at centre. I’ve never seen it happen in my thousands of hours of client work. Again, it’s pure idealism, at least at this level of global consciousness, and an indication of ignorance of history, trauma and trauma resolution, and change theory in general. 

I reiterate: If we are not careful with our words, with how we utilize our understanding of the law of attraction, we diminish the searing pain of Black people, the rightful place of rage in their system, and its rightful need to be released if there is to be healing and change, which is what we’re seeing now. Without the current magnitude of rage and protest, without enough fire in the belly, we likely would not witness the global compassionate response we are experiencing right now from individuals and corporations, such as changing the nicknames of sport franchises.

And so it has come to this. In respecting the immense rightful place of rage finding its voice, we simultaneously respect what Black people have endured. We respect the agony of living under white domination. They go hand in hand. Discount one and you discount the other. 

It’s easier if you don’t expect perfect, positive, gentle, inclusive expression for reasons written above. It’s easier if you expect things to get messy, chaotic. This is different from wanting things to be violent. 

It’s easier if you understand that, like sexual abuse, the white-initiated violence towards Black people is a power wound. They have been powered over. And just like the trembling voice that finally comes out from the shadows, daring itself to say, “How DARE you!”, what we are seeing, as catalyzed by protest and rage, is the awakening of the voice and power of Black people. Like the victim that finally exercises his survival responses of pushing, kicking and screaming, what therapists call “completing the circuit”, Black people are now finding their perfectly imperfect way to do just this. 

To give you a bit more hope, I’ll end with this…

At some point, if someone is allowed to express their rage fully enough, while held in a safe space, they will break down in tremendous grief. It’s been there all along. If you need an example, watch this viral video right to the very end.

Rage, I assure you, is not the final destination for healing to happen; but for many, it’s a necessary first step to uncovering the huge wells of sorrow underneath. And if those tears can flow deeply and far enough, they will turn into rivers of grace carrying that person back into their heart, and humanity back into its heart, one person at a time. 


Check out Vince’s book: Wild Empty Spaces ~ Poems for the Opening Heart

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