Three Elephants Blocking Our Healing: Reflections on Race, Society, and Wellness – Part 3

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By Dr. Phyllis Hubbard

Chief Healing Officer at Radiant Health Strategies 


For those joining us for the first time, I encourage you to read through part 1 and part 2 to build your foundation for our closing chapter. In part 3, we are going to examine our language and our practices for social and racial healing. Come into this reflection with an open, humble mind and you will be surprised where the journey will take you. 

-Dr. PH

A Few Ways to Unblock Ourselves and Facilitate the Healing Process

Actively Engage in Self-awareness/Love/Empowerment by Seeking Value Within

Take the time to learn more about your family, ancestry, history, and culture. It’s true that some of your histories will not be positive. I had a client who found out that her father was a Nazi who had committed terrible crimes. She hated anything German. As I considered healing strategies for her, I silently thought about the irony of having both German and Jewish ancestry. I had to remind her that while the past cannot be changed, the actions that she takes today could change her present and future.

I worked diligently with her to redirect her anger and shame away from “anything German” into positive actions that heal. Thanks to my family, my growing understanding of German culture helped me to quickly locate some German traditions that she could embrace and accept as a part of her healing process. I utilized my connections at the local Jewish Community Center to find ways for her to do good work in their community and learn about Jewish culture which enriched her life. She was able to heal and offer herself in service to the Jewish community because she faced and healed her past. The more you learn about yourself, the more you are able to face and take actions to heal what hurts so that you can create the space to love yourself and others. She is no longer haunted and tormented by her inherited past.

The Journey to and Work of Loving Yourself

The more you love yourself, the less you’ll be triggered by other people’s actions which allows you to engage in contemplative thought and respond with heightened awareness to the events of the outside world. The Black and Latinx populations share similar histories:
  • We suffered a historic catastrophic event which included ongoing violence, rape, pillage, the altering of at least 20% of our genetic makeup (creating a new hybrid race of people), the creation of systems of internal competition (i.e. preference given to lighter skin tones, etc. to pit us against each other), being forced into acquiescence to all aspects of European culture and the mass abduction of our resources.
  • We were forced to adopt another culture’s religion which was altered and deliberately used to psychologically brainwash, manipulate, suppress and control behaviors.
  • We were forced to forget our indigenous languages and exclusively speak another culture’s language until our own indigenous languages were forgotten/lost and we were forced to subscribe to European naming conventions.

Because of these commonalities, I refrain from assuming that I understand people of other ethnicities or even my own ethnicity. I’ve lost so much of my own history. I am still attempting to understand who I am while mourning/having to accept the fact that I am 26% European not because of love (which I would have happily welcomed/accepted) but primarily through rape and violence. I know that I must heal, transmute, integrate, love, and accept all of who I am even though part of me belongs to a culture that dehumanizes and often despises me. This process must include cleansing my European ancestry by forgiving them and releasing the pain that they caused to my African ancestry so that ancestral trauma is not passed down to future generations. If I don’t heal, I risk psychologically destroying myself from the inside out (something for us to consider the next time we see a mentally ill homeless ethnic person roaming the streets). Therapeutic movement and healing music have been my saving grace, and though I have much to learn about other cultures, I am committed to lifelong learning, exploration, and engaging in practices such as walking in IRE.

The ignorance that I seek to overcome is as real and runs as deep as the love I feel for humankind. We cannot love ourselves or others by remaining stagnant and refusing to grow. I actively and humbly seek to discover the truth about myself and about other cultures (regardless of how painful that truth may be to face). Even though I have been completely immersed in white culture since early childhood, (which is tantamount to eating vanilla ice cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all my snacks while watching TV, movies, listening to the radio, and reading about vanilla ice cream all day/every day) I still continually question my views of White people, actively resist judgment and seek understanding to hold myself accountable to potential biases and fallacies. For this reason, I was especially annoyed by the college boy who didn’t bother to understand even a little bit about Black history/culture before writing a story about us. 

Ignoring It Will Not Heal It or Make It Disappear

We cannot heal what we refuse to acknowledge. As an American, I am appalled, embarrassed, and humiliated by our Declaration of Independence which refers to Indigenous people as “Indian Savages,” yet conventional society still refuses to acknowledge that America was founded upon and deeply rooted in racism. In 1776, my ancestors were still enslaved “so whose freedom do we celebrate on the 4th of July?” Why won’t we acknowledge the fact that my ancestors were a major funder for the freedom of White people and paid dearly with their blood, sweat, tears, and free labor? How do we heal as a society if we are completely unwilling to acknowledge and cleanse ourselves and our past?

Elephant #3: Will we acquire, understand and consistently use language that heals? — Dr. Phyllis Hubbard

Co-creating Affirmative Language

Let’s take the words “diversity” and “minority” as an example. The word “diversity” has the energy of “divide” in it so why would we use that word to inspire inclusion? The word “minority” has the word “minor” in it. If we took the countries of the world and put them inside the continent of Africa, there would still be more Africa. For this and many other reasons, I do not refer to myself as a minority. Nor do I consider any of my brothers and sisters from other ethnicities to be a minority. We insist on using these words to describe Black, Brown, and indigenous, and immigrant people while using words like supreme (i.e. supremacy) to describe White people. We must find words to describe people that are not demoralizing and minimizing. It is just as damaging to overstate who we are as it is to understate who we are as a people.

If we do not continually question and challenge our beliefs, we will not evolve personally or as a society.

Source: Kai Krause “The True Size of Africa” ☥

When You Wake Up in the Morning Check in With Yourself First

Refuse to allow someone or something outside of yourself to be your first point of contact for your day. Instead, spend a few moments in gratitude for another day and for the opportunity to do your part to make this world a better place. Then, take a few slow deep breaths. This type of exercise brings you into the present moment and in touch with your true self.

Refrain from Engaging in Disturbing Activities at Least 60 Minutes Before Bedtime

The news consistently places its focus on issues that represent the lowest common denominators of our society and repeats it constantly throughout the day to increase their ratings (i.e. “breaking news” only happens once). Try skipping the news for a day and see if you truly missed anything of importance. 

Make a habit of breathing and pausing before speaking or acting. Resist the temptation to be seduced into knee-jerk reactions.

Take the time to practice self-awareness and self-control through breathing exercises and practices such as qigong, meditation and yoga (or some other contemplative practice that nourishes you). These practices allow you to digest what is happening in the outside world (that may be awakening something painful inside of you) and help you to distance yourself and watch it from a place of detachment and stoicism until you are able to process the emotions, find balance within yourself and respond with awareness.

“It means buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, ’cause Kansas is going bye-bye.” — Cypher (from the movie “The Matrix”)

Choosing to read this entire blog is a test – a sort of rite of passage. If you’ve made it this far, please know that I recognize you may have found this blog to be unsettling. If so, congratulations! I applaud you for hanging in there and beginning/deepening your beautiful process of spiritual awareness. With open eyes seeing the truth and an open heart, the work of healing our world can begin … with the healing of ourselves.

There can be no growth inside your comfort zone. I invite you to continually question your beliefs and sit with the discomfort that you may be feeling in silence for at least a few minutes each day. Some days/seasons will be more challenging than others, but if you continue to cleanse yourself and stay the course through the peaks and valleys, you will tap into a tranquil state of deep peace within you. You may even find that you’ll laugh out loud when you come to realize the simplicity of what you thought was so complicated.

Be at peace, be joyous, be well and be radiant. — Dr. Phyllis Hubbard