Tenneson and I met with a mens group last week. They are a part of an organization that is invested in the growth and development of men’s inner life. This meeting was specifically about diversity and inclusion. The call included about thirteen men and me. I spent around an hour with them and then I needed to step off the call. Tenneson continued with them. I like that he stayed, it seemed right somehow that I, the only woman would leave and give some space for the men to be together.
The men recorded the meeting and I got to watch the video afterwards. What caught my attention was an exchange with three of the men of color. One of the Black men said he was realizing that he was racially angry and he wanted change now. Another Black man reminded them that I spoke about healing and he said that he was angry too but he didn’t want to be, he wanted to heal. He wanted to be able to meet the White men in a deeper place. And then a third Black man spoke and said, well that’s good that you want to heal but it won’t change the world it will only change you. This is where I wish I could have been in the room.
If I was in the room what I would have said is this:
This is how we argue for our own captivity. We can only believe that healing ourselves doesn’t change the world if we don’t believe that we are connected and if we don’t understand just how much we matter. We can only believe this as Black folks if we don’t remember that we come from people like Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, and the list goes on… These ancestors showed us that one person’s life, one person's healing can and does indeed change the world.
This isn’t the first time I have heard this argument recently and I breaks my heart and brings me to tears because it shows just how much we have forgotten who we really are. I want to yell, WAKE THE HELL UP! The Whiteness has lolled you to sleep. In a group of men you can lead the way to healing. We need you to remember. I need you to remember.