My 5 PM told me the verdict.
It’s one of the strange benefits and drawbacks of telehealth I suppose.
Back before COVID, phones would be put away, a box of the soft tissues waiting just in case, and we’d settle into this therapy bubble, where the rest of the world was an illusion and all we had was the here and now of the consult room.
Yet now, still operating only by telehealth, I have to remember to mute my email, put my phone on “do not disturb”, and maximize the video screen (but rest my mouse just so, so I can keep an eye on the time).
The outside world still invades.
Like on Tuesday, at 5:07 PM, we learned together that Derek Chauvin had been found guilty on all three counts (second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter).
We talked a lot about thoughts and feelings–but that’s par for the course in the consult room.
George Floyd is still dead though.
Along with countless others, like Ma’Khia Bryant, Daunte Wright, and the disproportionate number of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous people dying from COVID.
The death of George Floyd is an old, excruciating story, with a seemingly new ending.
The story of a police system rooted in slavery, punishing Black bodies for White gain.
Except that this time, the punisher was held accountable for his actions.
George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police is a story that woke many up.
Like so many of our clients with narcissistic family-of-origin systems, many of us had glimmers of things not being okay before, but 2020 tore away the dissociation that felt safer than confronting the truth.
The truth of Western culture’s dangerous family secret, where the golden child status projects and privileges Whiteness while scapegoating everyone else, especially Black men, women, and children.
It’s tempting to go back to sleep when you’re one of the golden children.
To go back to the old dreams with their happily ever afters, where we get to be the heroes and heroines who triumphed over our struggles all on our own, earning that acclaim and praise and privilege.
Waking reality is harsher. It demands that we grow up and recognize how we stay in a system that privileges us at the extreme expense of others.
The story I tell myself about you, reader, is that like me, you want to:
- stay awake to the injustice
- disentangle yourself as much as you can from white supremacy, and
- do your part, whatever it may be, to stand for and make space for those silenced to be heard.
Easier said than done, right?
You know at your core that it's vital for you to integrate your values into everything you do, but it feels complicated. Especially when we talk about things like white supremacy and actively practicing anti-racism.
For those like me who benefit from White privilege, too often our own fragility and accompanying shame prompt us to stay silent in fear of judgment or “doing it wrong.”
We say we’re scared to say the wrong thing, but really we want to avoid the discomfort of being profoundly, messily human, and to dodge having conflict both interpersonally as well as internally.
Our silence–in the face of violence perpetuated year after year, day after day, moment after moment, on those who don’t have the privileged marker of Whiteness–is unacceptable.
As psychotherapists who have made a commitment to do no harm, we are ethically bound to uncover, explore, and transform our conscious and unconscious participation in the unhealthy and dangerous family system of White supremacy and choose instead to stand for and promote liberation for all.
So how do we do that?
As therapists, how do we do the anti-racism work?
It’s a complicated question, and one I’ve been grappling with ever since I chose to write this letter.
Because I’m not an expert in anti-racism, nor in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Isn’t it the height of arrogance to think I have something to say? Or is that just my shame speaking?
Or most likely, somewhere in between?
The parallel process has twisted me up–I find I’m scared to say the wrong thing and I long to avoid conflict.
It seems easier to stay silent, because if I do, then I could sidestep the discomfort of being human–capable of hurting and harming others, as much as helping them.
Instead of demonstrating my arrogance and ignorance, I’d prefer to control your perception of me. Those parts of me would prefer to just play-act at “being woke,” rather than really waking up to reality and how I participate in it.
And maybe I would have done that, but my 5 PM told me that Chauvin was guilty on all three counts, and I felt the shock in my bones.
Not because I didn’t want him to be held accountable, but because I genuinely hadn’t believed it would or could happen.
I want to work towards a day that there is no shock, only sorrow that something like this could still happen, and I hope the gratitude that it happens so rarely that it commands a lot of attention when it does.
So, while you and I may fumble our way through, we have to get to a point where we are able to integrate your values not only on the personal level, but on the clinical and business levels as well.
A Not-At-All-Comprehensive Collection of Anti-Racism Resources for Therapists
I’ve found that when we talk about doing the work as a therapist, we are really talking about three distinct arenas:
- Deepening Your Self Awareness
- Investing in Your Clinical Insight
- Integrating Your Values Within Your Business
This collection of anti-racism resources is divided into 3 posts, providing the anti-racism resources that have helped me do the self-work, learn as a therapist in a clinical setting, and incorporate it all within my business.
Within these posts, you’ll find a collection of podcasts, social media accounts, books, and organizations that have furthered my knowledge of anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I hope it helps you, too.
I invite you to share this resource with your friends and colleagues.
And I invite you to share with me any anti-racism resources not found here so that I can include them (and get to know you, as well).
Reach out to me via email: jenn (at) athinkersguide (dot) com.