Counseling Center

June 16, 2020

Challenging Anti-Blackness Together: A Call to My Latinx Community

Posted by Gianna Galindo, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate, Psychology Intern, UWCC

I am angry. I am frustrated. I am full of sorrow. You might be experiencing these feelings too. In these emotions, I admittedly find myself getting caught up in what seems to be an overwhelming sense of helplessness in the face of systemic anti-Blackness and the consequential fight for justice that we must never give up. I find myself trying to focus my energy on what I can do in this fight because each of us has a role to play, from participating in protests, to providing resources on challenging anti-Blackness, to making donations to charities and organizations that are deeply committed to the fight for justice against anti-Blackness, just to name a few. However, to make the most of my efforts, I must take a step back and recognize the limits and privileges of my own role in this fight as a non-Black Latinx individual.

To my fellow non-Black Latinxs, the Latinx experience is certainly not a singular one.  I invite you to engage in a moment of self-reflection with grace and examine with me our role in the fight for justice. Taking a step back to recognize your own role in this movement is not to diminish, trivialize, or invalidate your own experiences of oppression. This self-awareness can allow us to truly understand how we are affected by the seen and unseen forces around us and how we can effectively focus our energy and efforts in this fight for justice. Do I really see and hear the cries of the Black community? Because if I do, then I need to see and acknowledge my role in alleviating these cries. I call you in to join me in unveiling the oppressive narrative to which you and I may consciously or subconsciously subscribe. A narrative of white-body supremacy that facilitates racialized trauma. A narrative that has been shown to have long-term deleterious effects on mental health that can be passed on to subsequent generations.

Trauma is the body’s response to threat and thus lives within the body.  In exploring the infiltration of white-body supremacy in your narrative, I encourage you to mindfully reflect on not just your thoughts, but also on your bodily response. Resmaa Menakem, trauma therapist, shares that “we will never outgrow white-body supremacy just through discussion, training, or anything else that’s mostly cognitive. Instead, we need to look to the body-and the embodied experience of trauma.”

I encourage you to mindfully ask yourself: What comes up for me when I think of a Black body? What messages do I hear when I think about this body? Perhaps messages from our own community like “pelo malo”… Notice what is going on in your own body. Where do I feel these messages come up in my body?  Maybe in the form of constriction. Tightening of the chest or shallowing of the breath? Instead of withdrawing from it, right now lean into openness. Release yourself from the grip of defensiveness and create space in your body and mind to bring awareness to how you uphold anti-Blackness.

We can repost hashtags that spread consciousness, share MLK quotes, run for Maud, or participate in the myriad other and often empty gestures against racial injustice. We can take to the streets with the Black community and demand justice. However, in order to facilitate real change, we need to recognize and challenge anti-Blackness within our minds, our bodies, and our communities. We need to acknowledge how we benefit from and perpetuate the agenda of the colonizers; an agenda that serves to divide us and “other” us, an agenda that would see us distracted by our differences, rather than focus on how the colonizer class wields its power and control over society at our expense.

Reflecting on these questions is certainly challenging and forces us to address our own traumatic and varying experiences of colonization. However, I ask that you notice that pain and discomfort and not let it serve as a barrier to this work, nor let it prevent the utilization of one of the greatest tools we have to fight for justice: the focused action that comes from whole body self-awareness.