We Name What Is Without Tiptoeing

Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

 

I believe that the challenges that each of us face cannot be addressed unless we name what we see for what it is.

In this short post, I want to speak both personally and professionally about something that affects all of us, not as a political concept, but as a daily reality for many Americans, and as it so happens, for myself and for many of my clients.

I am naming it here, without tiptoeing. Whenever I see, experience, or see another person on the receiving end of racism and racist bullying either in front of my face or in the public sector, I will name what I see.

My promise to you is that I will believe you when you tell me your stories of being on the receiving end of racism and racist bullying. I will also believe you and help you name your own struggles with the racist concepts and bias, no matter where you have lived.

My promise to you is that I will not tiptoe around yours or the stories of other’s treatment at the hands of racist bullies by creating euphemisms, polite explanations, or lessening your emotional distress by calling the perpetrators of racism as simply “racially challenged.” While in public discourse there are opportunities for using more nuanced words to foster open dialogue rather than defensive name calling, in the therapeutic setting, racism and racial bias must to be identified clearly.

You are free to talk about race and the effects of racism on you and your family members, your workplace, your schools, and your communities. You are free to explore past and present scenarios you have traversed in your role in perpetuating generational and systemic racism in order to do something about it. 

Professionally, I do not talk about my political affiliations, yet you are free to talk about yours as they pertain to your care and sense of well being. My commitment is to support you. 

If you have a child that is experiencing racism or racial bullying, this is a crime defined as racial discrimination. You will need to know your state’s laws in order to understand what you can do as a parent to protect your child from racism in their schools and programs.

If you or your child is experiencing racism through Social Media platforms, you may wish to look at how each platform handles complaints, trolls, and bullies. You may wish to talk about how to monitor and limit what your child sees and the access that others have to your child via these platforms.

While racism and racist bullying are not new, what does feel new is the increase in tiptoeing that comes with racist exchanges in public dialogue. Many resist naming it. Much like diagnosing an illness, if you don’t name what is wrong, you can’t treat the problem. If you don’t name the racism that you see, it’s that much more difficult to face how it affects you.

You may ask, “Why wouldn’t I want to name something or someone as ‘racism’ or ‘racist’?” The answers are many.  Perhaps at its most basic truth, you may resist naming something so heinous because of the ramifications that follow. Just like naming abuse, it changes how you interact with the abuser and those who collaborate with the abuser. 

As a mental health counseling service, we do not discriminate because of gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, or any other point of physical appearance or means of identity. If your concerns fall within the scope of our licensed practices and treatment experiences, you will be met with warmth, concern, and professional care.  If your concerns do not fall within our scopes of practice or experience, we may be able to refer you to someone else who can be of help.

Together

As I tried to pull words together last week to write this month’s blog post for Seattle Direct Counseling, words failed me. Exhausted after days of trying to help people process the horrors of the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando FL, the recent shootings of black men by police, and the shooting of police officers (and I just got wind of yet another shooting just hours ago), I needed time to put words to what, if anything, I have to offer.

I have no words of consolation, for this is not a time to be consoled.

I do have words of sympathy for all the lives lost, and to the loved ones who grieve their absences.

I have no formulaic plans for action, ways to avoid becoming a statistic, nor recommendations, since just about everything I can think of has been tried — and has failed. Our nation has the highest amount of gun violence in the world, and yet every call for change has been met with defeat.

In the aftermath of each of these incidents, the one thing that does help is that we stick together. Whites helping blacks, blacks helping whites, everyone in their right mind helping each other, and absolutely everyone doing their best to protect the young, the innocent, and the defenseless.

And for our part here at Seattle Direct Counseling, we offer who we are. We are here to help you. We know there are people hurting. Many of them have already begun to pour into the office to talk about what’s on their minds and hearts regarding racism, violence, social justice, activism, and community response.

We are better together than alone. 

It is my commitment to my community that if there is a need to open more office hours in the coming weeks, I will do my best to offer them. While it is not the place of counselors to be “advice givers”, we offer a safe space to process what is happening in our nation and to help you strategize an appropriate, meaningful response.

SDC is about embracing diversity, celebrating difference, welcoming culture and culture change, and personal transformation. We do not discriminate against any people group, color, age, size, gender, orientation, socio-economic background, or spiritual beliefs.

 

My Racist and Prejudiced America

When the Popchips Ashton Kutcher snafu burst on the Internet on May 3, 2012, I writhed in pain. I wanted to write something about racism without sounding like a lecturing minority or a sniveling child among my mainstream culture colleagues and peers. There is nothing like cries of racism to provoke attention: it is as eye-opening of a subject as getting smacked in the face with a wet trout [do not ask me how it feels to be hit with a trout, because sadly, I do know]. I’ve let a few days go by to allow this latest media incident to settle, not so much with the public, but with the “me” that was initially offended and exasperated. Now I’m ready to share a more personal and intimate look at my racist America.

Continue reading “My Racist and Prejudiced America”