The landscape of our western world appears to be one of relative prosperity, progress and freedom. For many descendants of enslaved Africans however, the reality is quite different. It represents that of dehumanization, exploitation and segregation at every turn, encapsulating 500 years of unresolved suffering.
The Holocaust of Enslavement, the #Maafa, is the historical wounding of the soul for both African-Americans and Americans of all races. And everyone has to make peace with it. We must seek the truth, learn from the past, and honor the moral obligation to remember. And, we must come to terms with the origins of present-day #racism in America – the enslavement of Africans.
My humanity is related to your humanity. I can not be a human being without recognizing your humanity.
We Need Rituals of Grief
When we think of grief we often associate it with death and loss. However, a #grief ritual is not just about death as we learn from the wisdom of Sobunfu Somé in the video above. It is about healing and reconciliation. Rituals of grief bring people together in a sacred way, to express the wounds of the soul. When addressed within a sacred space, the emotions of grief can provide powerful relief and healing.
As scholars have pointed out, many think of #slavery as a tragedy to be ashamed of or forgotten, a negative issue that must be whispered in polite society; something in the far distant past. Yet the Transatlantic Slave Trade transformed the modern world and left a terrible legacy that remains till this present day. From the Maafa, the racial-social hierarchy was born and continues to govern the lives of every living human where race continues to confer (or obstruct) privilege and opportunity.
For that we need to grieve. Above all, we must grieve the atrocities committed against Africans, past and present, and the inequities perpetuated against the scattered seeds of enslaved Africans.
Sobonfu reminds us that grief is food for the soul, necessary to maintain a healthy balance. Denial of grief is self-destructive; poisoning our relationship with each other as evidenced in present-day the #BlackLivesMatter movement among others. Additionally, the expression of grief is the vehicle that transports the dead to the ancestral realm, while healing the wounds of the living.
Who Needs to Grieve?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reminded us that:
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality and tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
The call to the healing ritual of grief is for everyone – Black, White, Native and all People of Color, in fact, anyone who feels a strong commitment to telling the story about our nation’s past and and rewriting the promise of our collective future. Those who believe that the legacies and aftermath of slavery impact all of us in seen and unseen ways and must be acknowledged.
Perhaps ritual based on ancient African traditions is the final frontier, the undiscovered path of hope for 500 hundred years of unresolved grief.
Let the healing begin.