(Originally posted on Carolina EFT’s website.)
We have been thrilled to have so many therapists from across North America attending Carolina Center for EFT’s online Conversations on Attachment and Anti-Racism! On December 7, 2020, we gathered for our fourth in the series. We discussed racism and antiracism, as well as various ways we are incorporating deliberate efforts to be antiracist in our work as clinicians.
The conversation series was initiated this summer in the wake of the death of George Floyd and our collective concern about how to respond. Personally, I was appalled. I was struck with urgency and bewilderment about what to do. George Floyd’s death and my growing awareness of the countless similar deaths marked a turning point for me in my awareness of the power inequities across our nation and around the world!
How could we be a Center for EFT – which was founded on attachment science, the science that shows we all need secure human connection to survive — while at the same time be living on land stolen from indigenous tribes and in a country built on slavery? How can I, as a white person, be flourishing because of standing on someone else’s back? How can I be practicing and teaching a kind of therapy built on the transformative power of secure human connection… yet in the face of tremendous inequities, disadvantage, and racism?
My Black colleagues have consistently sent me messages of encouragement to keep asking these questions and striving to find ways to respond. Their messages have been mirrored by messages of profound love from leaders such as John Lewis, Cornell West, Jacob Bake’s uncle, and so on. And from Dr. Paul Guillory, I am learning more about the profound stories of Black Love.
The conversation series itself began with a conversation with Sarah Faircloth (Charlotte, NC) and then received enthusiastic support from Carolina EFT’s Diversity and Strategic Planning Sub-Committee – Mary Hinson, Tanisha James, and Steve Wampler, who have been leading this series as well as Susan, Vivian, Debra, Paula and others.
We were delighted to have many therapists joining us on this journey of striving to be antiracist mental health professionals. Reading Ibram X. Kendi’s work in preparation for our December conversation seemed the perfect book to be exploring now.
We began our conversation series with DiAngelo’s White Fragility – and each conversation through Degruy’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, and Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands, has moved us to deeper levels of confronting the tragic, racist, realities many of us – especially white folks like myself – have been oblivious to for far, far too long.
Now Kendi compels us to take action! I appreciate Kendi’s suggesting that racism is fueled by living in denial and anti-racism is fueled by living in confession. I believe his writing compels us to be led by each other as we commit to daily practices of what he calls “persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination….To be an antiracist is a radical choice…requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness” (23).
I love how Kendi defines racism and anti-racism not as fixed realities (as in, “I am a racist or an anti-racist”), suggesting instead that being antiracist is an active process. I believe that becoming culturally humble and actively engaged in this process, from an attachment perspective, is necessarily a community project. Kendi writes that we have all been programmed to respond to human differences with fear and denial – and loathing. We have no patterns, he says, for relating across our differences as equal beings. And yet, I am hopeful.
In past meetings in this series, we have had intimate vulnerable conversations together, some in the large group and others in our smaller breakout rooms. I believet hat together in these open conversations, we are creating a respectful, nurturing pattern for relating across our human difference as equal beings. “…[R]acism is one of the fastest-spreading and most fatal cancers humanity has ever known,” notes Kendi (238) – destroying the earth and people of all cultures. I would suggest – it is with the spirit of genuine human connection (a.k.a. love) which our EFT community seeks to foster that we dare to have hope.
I dare to hope that with genuine respect and curiosity to listen to our differences and our similarities, we can keep alive the hope that one day we will transform the disease of power constructs and disadvantaged communities into systemic change and equity for all.
Be sure to join our online Multicultural Faux Pas in EFT: The Benefits of Being Aware of Cultural Differences led by Dr. Mary Hinson and Tanisha James this January 2021.
And if you want to find out more about our 2021 Conversations, join the Carolina EFT mailing list.