Soundtrack: Kendrick Lamar “I”
This writing is a testament to the evolution of my thinking and my activity. For years I participated in various facets of the Black Liberation Movement. From the moment that I was exposed to its existence at fifteen years old, my identity has been centered in my devotion to “the struggle” for freedom for Black people in America. Most of my activity over the years was rooted in a deep anger over the injustices that my people have received from the moment that we fell into the hands of white people in West Africa before making the long boat rides to the Western Hemisphere.
However, in 2012, my life was changed by being introduced to Tantra. I was inspired to become a Tantra energy healer and, as such, I felt the need to suppress my anger for a while. The part of me that wanted to fight for Liberation had to chill so that I could develop the part of me that wanted to heal my people from the inside out, especially our women.
About a month after being exposed to Tantra, in February 2012, I wrote a blog post that I never published. The main idea of that writing was that the Black Liberation Movement hasn’t seen satisfactory success since the 1960s because we learned how to love Black people as a collective, but we never learned how to love our individual Black selves. Part of what I said is this:
“If God is Love, and God’s domain is Heaven, then it is impossible for us to truly love ourselves and attract anything other than Heaven into our lives. If you don’t feel like you’re living in Heaven then the cause of that can be found in a lack of love for yourself, because your thoughts produce your reality. So how do we produce that love for Self? And conversely, how do we remove negative feelings toward Self? Is it possible to do so? Does the answer to those questions have any bearing on why we call sex “making love?” Can love heal people who have been the world’s foremost recipients of hate?”
I disagree with a lot of the details of what I wrote at that time. My knowledge of history has improved since then and that has impacted my understanding of what the challenges facing our people have been. I totally forgot about writing that until very recently.
Yesterday, we celebrated the seventh and final day of Kwanzaa. The principle for that day is Imani, which means faith. We are taught that Imani, as a Kwanzaa principle, means to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. One of the wise elders at our Kwanzaa celebration yesterday pointed out that having faith in the ultimate victory of our struggle starts with having a basic belief that victory is possible. That is an area that many of our people struggle with. We are like the biblical story of Moses and the Israelites who were afraid to go take their Promised Land because there were giants living there. We view our colonizers as unbeatable giants.
This situation is related to what I wrote back in 2012. It is my belief that we don’t have faith in the victory of our struggle and we don’t struggle as adamantly as we could because in our heart of hearts, we don’t believe that we deserve to be free. Our generations of oppression in America have conditioned us to believe that we are a people who are supposed to be dominated by someone else. As Carter G. Woodson wrote in The Miseducation of the Negro:
“If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.”
In 2017, 150 years removed from physical slavery, we are still demanding a back door for ourselves. We don’t want the best for ourselves because we don’t love ourselves. Our movement for freedom and justice and sovereignty requires many types of organizing. And now I realize that my past five years of Tantra practice has made me uniquely qualified to tackle this one underappreciated aspect of our struggle. While we are organizing to become self-sufficient in our economics and our housing and our politics and our education, we have to also be taught how to heal, from the inside out.
Our organizations are more stable when the individuals that make up the organization are able to have healthy relationships with one another. And our organizations are more stable when those individuals don’t have to take long breaks from the work in order to “get myself together.”
In 2017 I am publishing The Bliss Book, a collection of the lessons I have learned in five years of being a Tantra student and practitioner. The book explains how we can achieve a level of inner peace that cannot be shaken or penetrated by the vicissitudes of life. Our struggle for liberation is one that comes with many ups and downs. We have to be able to maintain an even keel in spite of our victories and setbacks. The Bliss Book shows us how to do that.
Prior to 2012 I spent over a decade struggling with depression. That doesn’t make me unique. Mental health is hard to come by for millions of people in capitalist society; especially those of us who have to deal with racism on top of our economic exploitation. But my mindfulness and energy healing practice has delivered me from the emotional roller coaster I spent 12 years riding. And I have given a crazy number of hours to studying the real reasons why these practices work. That has resulted in some unique insights about the human condition that I share in my book.
I was troubled internally when I first started my Tantra studies because of what I felt like was a contradiction between my desire to Build and my desire to Destroy. Make no mistake about it, I wanted to destroy the white man’s world. I prayed to God to be made an agent in the destruction of this web of systems that has contributed to destroying every indigenous culture on the earth, as well as the earth itself.
I am writing this now because I have resolved that apparent contradiction within myself. My work as a healer is part and parcel of my work as a revolutionary nationalist. The revolution can’t be successful if it is based in hate — hate for the enemy or hate for ourselves. The revolution can’t be successful until we love ourselves enough to believe that we deserve to be free. We can’t love ourselves to that degree until we heal the very deep seated psychological and spiritual wounds we have received from hundreds of years in North America. And healing those wounds is very much about “making love,” which includes what we normally think of with those words as well as much more. We will get into that “much more” at a later time, and especially in the book. Stay tuned…