The American Dream is a big one, the problem is, the dream was never meant for everyone, so we’re going to have to do some dismantling of hurdles in order for it to be accessible to everyone. If one simply looks at history, and legal barriers that have been put in place that hinder some people more than others from achieving the dream, it is obvious that shattered dreams abound. I covered some of these laws in my last article, so I’ll go on in this one to discuss how we may create pathways to healing the shattered dreams of so many who have been intentionally oppressed and hindered in their pursuit of the dream.
Much like the consequence of marital infidelity, an intimate breach of trust and subsequent injury has been created by European Americans and our ancestors. Similar to marital infidelity the breach between us can only be healed in much the same manner as healing the injury caused by marital infidelity. I learned this strategy of racial “Healing Conversations” from my friend, Dr. James Hawkins. He is a licensed counselor who treats racial trauma and healing with similar methods as marital counseling where one spouse has been unfaithful.
We (as a nation) are suffering from something similar to divorce that is a result of the infidelities of white supremacists by our European founding fathers, and all the generations of our white preferencing ancestors since then. It is not just the ancestors that are to blame. Today’s European Americans still benefit from the dreams deprived for Black, Indigenous, Asian, and other People of Color. It is many European Americans that are keeping the pathways blocked because 95% of today’s policymakers, leaders, employers, and decision-makers are still white males.
Dr. Hawkins says that when there has been a breach of trust, “Anger is valid and necessary (part of healing). Anger mobilizes, anger marks that there has been a violation of justice and calls for action. Anger marks that there is an offense that needs to be reconciled” (Dr. James Hawkins). Most European Americans prefer to skip over the anger (of people of color) part, and callously say that Black and other people of color should “move on.” In addition to skipping the anger part, they want to skip the confession part and the restitution part that is required for true repentance.
Forgiveness (by God) may be quick and easy, just a matter of accepting that we have done wrong, that we need a savior, and believing that Jesus is Lord. Forgiveness is God’s part. Trust, on the other hand, takes a lot longer to earn. Trust is earned through lasting, demonstrated repentance. Deep, thorough repentance is our part.
A search and survey of the term translated in English translations of scripture as “repentance” is connected to several ideas.
1. A change of mind/regret (for sin)
2. A change of walk/lifestyle (turning away from evil)
3. Making repair/restitution for the harm we caused in our state of sin.
Americans prefer the personal God to the God of all Nations (that is because we are culturally individualistic; a human-made preference, not a divine order). We prefer the personal relationship with Jesus and claim that our sins and the sins of our ancestors are “under the blood of Jesus” while dismissing the idea of restitution and restoration of those we harmed while in sin. That is like an unfaithful husband saying, I’m sorry I had the affair, but it is time for you to get over it.
The perpetrator of sin does not get to demand the terms of recovery. Healing in a broken relationship is a process that requires a consistent walk of repentance by the offender. However, the lack of humility and willingness to humbly serve is evidence that the sorrow is only of getting caught, not sorrow for the injury caused or the experience of the wounded.
White America is guilty of this infidelity and callous demand for trust and intimacy from Black people and other people of color. We as a collective have not removed the vestiges of sin among us. These sins are contained in our laws, policies, practices, and ways of doing things that we often claim are “just good business.” We refuse to reform them because there is still significant benefit to Americans of European descent to maintain these systems.
To build pathways of healing we must follow the pattern of repentance laid out in scripture:
- Confess our sins – unequivocally
- Turn from evil (attitudes, actions, and policies)
- Make restitution on both individual and collective levels
To create a healing pathway of public trust and private relationships we must learn to listen, care, and connect from the perspective of the other person or group, especially from the perspective of Black and other people of color. Doc Hawk says, “If we cannot connect with each other’s experiences, we cannot be a part of each other’s healing” (Dr. James Hawkins, LPC). I believe this is the formula for both repentance and rebuilding.
If each of us will begin to humbly walk this path, we will build pathways of restoration that may become highways of Godly prosperity not to mention access to the American Dream.
By Doc Courage