Healing the Black Psyche: Peace of Mind with Taraji P. Henson
Resilient is an understatement when we look at the state of Black people around the world. For centuries, white and nonblack POC reaped the benefits of what we have sown by degrading our bodies, minds, and spirits. This dehumanization created the foundation for international economic, social and cultural advancement for those who deemed us inferior. Each time the goal post moves, we rise to the occasion staring fiercely in the face of hatred, inequity and white supremacy. We must acknowledge how social advancement of every aspect ensures that we remain in a state of learned helplessness. This created a narrative through science, technology, economics, education and more, that Blackness is subhuman.
Each time we're knocked down, we create a path for ourselves to flourish under abhorrent conditions. This repeated depravity traps us in survival mode unable to truly connect with our history and lineage but also creates biological and psychological distress that alters our DNA. This matrix of white supremacy seeps into the ways we view ourselves and how we treat each other through internalized misogyny and patriarchy. In order for us to have a horse in the race of cultural advancement, it again requires us to remain in survival mode, unable to experience internal peace. This hatred has trained our bodies to work beyond our natural limits, disregard our emotional state and neglect our communities in the pursuit of advancing in a white society. On a microcosmic level, this manifests as counterproductive and toxic behaviors such as apathy towards ourselves and our families, colorism, domestic and sexual violence, and sexism. We are denied access to our history and lineage because of paper genocide (destruction of historical records), human genocide and complete erasure of our contributions to the global society.
As society advances and the degradation of our people continues through these institutions, we are taking back our power and it begins with the mind. Capitalism tricks us into thinking our liberation comes solely from financial advancement but this would require us to step on each other's backs perpetuating the external harm inflicted upon us, internally. We have centuries worth of trauma running through our DNA and that has to be unpacked. We can no longer allow white and nonblack POC to wield power against our psyche by dictating how we navigate through our experiences with each other.
"And I remind myself all the time now that if I were to have been born mute or had maintained an oath of silence my whole life for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die." - Audre Lorde: The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action
As a Black, bisexual woman who grew up in an emotionally distant household, there were tactics I picked up to preserve myself when there was no space for me to express myself. Today I gradually unlearn those behaviors and sit with the discomfort of my pain and trauma: self-inflicted, familial and societal. Not only does this mean clearing and creating space within my mind and body but also seeking communal spaces to heal with others. We're conditioned to believe we must shoulder all our burdens alone and expression of any difficulty doing so is a weakness and thus we suffer in silence.
Renowned actress and mental health advocate, Taraji P. Henson created space for this community healing to occur and it's available on Facebook Watch. What I really appreciate about this show is she and her co-host and long time best friend Tracie Jade Jenkins are vulnerable about their own experiences. Henson created the Boris L. Henson Foundation named after her father, who suffered from bipolar disorder and PTSD, and this organization provides affordable options for therapy and free resources to receive help. Henson and Jenkins are using their prominence in the community to cultivate a safe space of expression and healing for Black people and show us the power in vulnerability.
The topics covered range from dealing with gun violence, sexual assault, suicide and transphobia. The lineup of guests that appeared so far this season include Tamar Braxton, Gabourey Sidibe and Mary J. Blige. My favorite aspect of the show is the intentional inclusion of "regular" people to share their experiences and potentially impact millions of people's lives. Henson and Jenkins speak with compassion and grace as they listen to the trials of their guests. They encourage emotional expression and empathy while also providing information and resources for guests and viewers alike to learn and seek help.
This global pandemic served, and continues to do so, as a catalyst for many of us who have been operating in survival mode to recognize how we've become disconnected within ourselves and within our communities. Adversely, it has also widened that distance for some of us as well and that is not lost on Henson and Jenkins either. We all hear that the first step is acknowledging that something is wrong and Peace of Mind with Taraji continues to motivate the audience and guests to keep walking down the path to healing. This show highlights the absolute necessity of understanding our pain and how we no longer have to inflict this debilitating pain within ourselves and within our communities under the guise of "strength".
If you are ready to step into your path of healing, be sure to check out the Boris L. Henson Foundation for resources and a free virtual therapy session. New episodes of Peace of Mind with Taraji air on Mondays and Wednesdays on Facebook Watch.