I Can’t Breathe – The Racial Evolution that needs to be heard

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I just had one of those PhotoReading™ aha moments, one of those lightbulb moments; one of those moments that makes me stop and go: “I wonder if this could be what’s happening in the world?  I wonder if this could go towards explaining it and be true?”

We seem to be seeing the past uprising again.  Brutal and graphic pictures of slavery and lynching’s and people burning while hanging from trees abound on Facebook.

Public lynchings and burnings. There are no words.

Public lynchings and burnings. There are no words.

Astounding and intriguing videos of the slaves speaking in their own voices. People marching on the streets in support of #Icantbreathe.  Riots in Ferguson after decision regarding the shooting of Michael Brown that seem to mimic to so-called trial of Emmitt Till, his mother insisting on an open casket so that the world could see what the accused, who openly admitted to the crime, had done to her son.  (The pictures are possibly too graphic to show here however they are openly available online.  That said, they are probably no more graphic than the picture above, yet with this one it is possible not to see that it was a real flesh and blood man hanging charred from that tree).

I recently said on Facebook that I half expect Dr Martin Luther King or Malcolm X to walk in and be interviewed on TV because the news is so reminiscent of what they were trying to bring to the surface and resolve in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Seconds after the photograph below was taken, Dr King was shot dead so he never got more than a tiny glimpse of the now infamous promised land.

Dr Martin Luther King - The Last Living Photograph

Dr Martin Luther King – The Last Living Photograph

And this is where for me it got very interesting.  I’ve seen white people telling black people to ‘get over it’ to ‘move on’ to ‘stop moaning and stop living in the past’ and to ‘take that massive chip off their shoulder’ and ‘do something’ to get on with creating their own life and reality because no one is now actually holding them back.

Or is there?

I often get those ‘last resort’ clients.  Those clients who have tried ‘everything’ to resolve a particular issue yet it is still there, sometimes solid and unshakable despite and in spite of their best efforts, and other times recurring years after they thought they had worked on it and resolved it. Coming back to hinder their thoughts or lives years after they kind of lanced that boil and moved on.

And for some of those clients their experience of life since they first tried to tackle and resolve the issue is that they had moved on, is that life had been OK, and that it was done; until it wasn’t done.

For other clients they knew that they had resolved and let go of ‘something’ yet there, in the back of their mind, in the depths of their psyche, and at the seat of their soul they unconsciously knew that the remnants remained and that more stuff and puss was yet to surface at some point.

And when we get conscious about what that something is, it’s like a bolt of listening for my clients, and their reaction is usually along the lines of: “Oh my god!  I can’t believe that is still buried in there because I’ve worked on this so many times before, but it makes so much sense.”

Am I a miracle worker?  Yeah, a little bit 😉 and I have my ways and means of getting  the psyche to talk, yet more than that, what happens with my clients is what I suspect is happening with the world.

It was a process of evolution.  A peeling back of the layers as they go through life and discover more about themselves and develop the capacity to hold more and be more.

At the time they first started to work on ‘it’, they made some good and real progress; Men, women, and children, were no longer slaves to other men, women, and children.  Blacks and whites could now use the same entrance, and sit next to each other on the bus.  Black men and women could own a piece of land and have their own property.  That was all the world could handle at that time, and that was enough for it to be ‘OK’ and for an oppressed culture and way of being to evolve.

Black and white segregation

Black and white segregation

But then the world was ready to evolve again because it developed the capacity to handle more.  So not only did men and women of all races now sit next to each on the bus and share the same cafe and bar counter, they now wanted to date each other and to procreate.  The bits of the world that weren’t ready for that gave looks of disgust and hate.  They spat at and pulled at, and even beat up and arrested those who were ready for this next phase of evolution.  That too then (kind of) became ‘OK.’

But then the world was ready to evolve again because it had grown up some and was ready to handle more.  Could black men and women really move from slave labour and manual labour into white collar (notice the term that still pervades today, ‘white’ collar) jobs?  Could they one day hold positions in management?  Possibly even senior management?  Cue people like my Uncle, Jeff Crawford who here in the United Kingdom helped to lead the corporate phase of the Civil Rights movement.  He was instrumental in getting British Rail to change their policies and not just hire black workers, but hire them for positions that they were by then qualified for.  He then went on to be the black man who was part of the first ever independent Police Complaints Authority because social justice and not abusing your positions of power was his thing.

You can read Jeff’s obituary from The Guardian Newspaper here. The Guardian described him as ‘A pioneering campaigner against racial prejudice in Britain.’

I once again Chaired the annual Barbados Independence Day Panel Debate at the Barbados High Commission in London organised by Tyrone Roach.  As we debated and talked about ‘the journey back’, remembering the people who migrated to Britain after the war to help rebuild the country and the economy, I asked those in attendance if my Uncle Jeff were still alive whether he would be satisfied with our progress.  In terms of institutional racism I was told that he would most likely be extremely disappointed because in so many respects we as a black race have gone backwards. One attendee who has been decorated by the Queen for his services to this country said: “Many of us broke through the glass ceiling only to find that it was reinforced with concrete.”

A sad state of affairs when you consider that from the outside looking in, it appears we have made good progress in breaking through those deeply ingrained blocks and barriers and living in a more equal and unified way.

That next wave of economic evolution and equality paved the way for the early pioneers in business and commerce and mainstream media, which then paved the way for people like Oprah Winfrey to not just own a piece of land and a business, but to dominate an industry.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

And then the world was ready to evolve again, and in between those periods of what I call the Corporate Civil Rights movement the unthinkable started to happen.  Not only did apartheid lead South Africa to free Mr Nelson Mandela, it then went on to make him its first black President so that he sat next to across the table from those who had locked him up and effectively thrown away the key decades before.  A long time in the  life of Nelson Mandela, a very short time for such a big turnaround, transition, and evolution.

President Nelson Mandela

President Nelson Mandela

Wow, a black man could be a President?  A President not just of his college sorority or company but of an entire country?

And the world was ready to evolve again.  Cue Barak Obama.  His election as President of the United States of America makes it look as though everything is now ‘OK’ as far as race is concerned, and that surely having a black man as President of, as some would say largest and most powerful and previously most divided country in the free world must mean that the world is now OK.

No, I don’t think so.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

What I think it means is that the world is ready to evolve again, and those layers of stuff and puss that have sat quietly beneath the surface like a virus is once again ready to come up to be further healed.  Can we get to it and heal it all in one go?  To be honest, I don’t know that all of the free world is ready for that, and as such, I believe that the world will continue to evolve in layers, giving us what we have the capacity to handle so that we can again be ‘OK’ with the next iteration.  Enough so that we can again move forwards yet with the awareness that there is more from beneath the surface yet to come.

If you really look back at the evolution of man, rarely has it been that they all lay down their arms at exactly the same time.  Even when the previous World Wars were waged, when those collective white flags were raised and waved, pockets of people continued to fight and hold deep seated grudges, many of which were then passed on to their children, and their grandchildren, and on ot their great grandchildren, as though it were steeped in their ancestry and DNA.

World War White Flag British soldiers in Jerusalem

World War White Flag British soldiers in Jerusalem

Science has already shown in the lab that fears and phobias can be passed down the genealogical line before the next generation are even born.

So I tell my clients not to beat themselves up and not to belittle or be angry at what seemingly little progress they have made over the intervening years, but instead to recognise that they most likely dealt with what they had the capacity to handle at the time or the skill to bring to the surface for resolution.

I see what is happening in the world in the same way.  We have seen that the world won’t fall apart if black men, women, and children sit alongside their white counterparts at the table.  We have seen that intellect isn’t the special reserve of one particular race or gender.  We have seen that it is possible for different races to co-exist and even thrive

What needs to come next is a dose of metaphorical castor oil or universal Ipecac to bring up and bring out the deep seated blueprint of white supremacy that permeates the deep and hidden psyche of our western world.

And I say that not from a place of trying to take us back to the days of Malcolm X, but from the place of recognising that we still live in a world where the remnants of this remain embedded in the psyche of our culture; Our comic book and TV Super Heroes are white when in their human form. The baddies of course was usually dark and black.

Global Super Hero Collective

Global Super Hero Collective

Our most popular and often only available dolls (in my day Action Man and Barbie) are white.  Our biggest Oscar winning film stars are all white (with the exception of Halle Berry who broke through in 2001 and got her hands on an Oscar becoming the first African-American Actress to win Best Actress in a leading role).  The junior Heros and Heroines of the most popular books growing up, from Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew to Harry Potter are all white.

And I point this out not to be difficult and nit-picky, but to bring it to the attention of those who quite understandably might never have noticed the glaring absence of positive mainstream references and the fact that a particular race of people is constantly reinforced as being superior.  If you’re white, why would you notice?  It’s all normal in your world and reinforces what you already naturally know to be true in your world.

And no, before any of you get all up in arms, I haven’t forgotten about the mass genocide happening around the world or about the holocaust.  I am writing about the black race issue because it is one that is ‘up’ again in the world right now.  I am also black so I know what it is like from my perspective to reside in this skin, and because being black is one thing that obviously singles you out; Even with my powers of NLP and human deduction I can’t tell in modern society just by looking at someone from across the street or even by hearing their name whether they are Jewish.  I can however tell immediately when I see them whether someone is black before I hear them speak or see their name.  And for as long as the ingrained and often unconscious stereotypes and hidden prejudices exist in our world it may be a challenge to simply ‘step into’ the equality that some of my white counterparts insist is already there for the taking.

I say don’t run away from it or pretend it’s not there because you ‘already dealt with it once before’, in the 1960’s.  Instead I say recognise that the world is now likely ready to handle another shift in evolution.  I say listen and really hear the story and pain that people carry in their ancestry, genealogy and psyche. I say look and really see the way that this world is still set up when it comes to underlying and unspoken hierarchy and race.  It might sound trite, but sometimes people just want to be acknowledged and seen and heard.

I say heal it as it comes up. I say really take the time to get the bigger lessons and learning opportunities that are being presented here, knowing that these things often resurface when the time is right.  I say take the opportunity to get down and dirty and lance this particular global boil once and for all so that this wound and infection can truly heal.

I think we now have an opportunity for a grand ‘disco revolution’.

For those of you that follow me on Facebook you will know that I do love my #DanceBreaks.  You may or may or may not be aware, but the emergence of the disco scene led to the  1969 human rights revolution in a New York City mafia owned night club.  Yet another police raid sparked a mini riot one night which brought to an end to the offence of dancing with someone of the same sex, and paved the way for the gay rights movement that much of the world is still batting with and evolving today. In that one brothers-in-arms, smoke filled night they took a big step forward in the evolution of the world that we live in today, and that was just one nightclub who refused to bow down to the prejudices of society yet again.

The BBC did a very cool documentary, so if you are interested in the modern history and evolution of music, do check it out.

The BBC4 History of Disco

The BBC4 History of Disco

Parts of the world have already protested and marched for Trayvon Martin, for Eric Garner #ICantBreathe, for 7 year old Aiyana Stanley Jones shot by police while she slept and all charges dropped, they have marched right back from the days of the open casket funeral protest for Emmitt Till.

RIP Trayvon Martin

RIP Trayvon Martin


RIP Eric Garner

RIP Eric Garner

RIP Aiyana Stanley Jones

RIP Aiyana Stanley Jones

So let us remember and learn, not so that we can keep on looking back at the past, but so that we can now build on this and move on to an even more integrated future where rather than trying to carve up and carve out a piece of the world that none of us really owns anyway, we can instead enjoy being here and fully experiencing this thing called life which at the moment is so easily being taken away.

Peace out.

Marilyn Devonish ♥



Marilyn Devonish is a Freelance Magazine Writer, Corporate Trainer, Workshop Facilitator, Therapist, and Keynote Speaker.  She is passionate about igniting and creating lasting positive change for individuals, corporations and communities.

Website: www.tranceformationsTM.com

E-mail: marilyn@tranceformationsTM.com



An English friend of mine (aka caucasian/white)  just read this Blog post.  Her very insightful comments are below:

“And thanks for reposting your article from last year, which I didn’t see at the time, and am glad to have read now. Thank you. Good to read, good to know, good to breathe in, good to be with. And here’s to evolving – mine, and the rest.”

(ME: “For me it’s not about the ‘rehashing’ of the past which is more like navel gazing, it is more about seeing what is still there, acknowledging that, and then cleaning up. I suspect that we have a few more generations to go yet for such an evolution to take place”).

“I truly get that from your piece Marilyn Devonish – and it’s caused me to take a moment to look at that – so starting with Me. Not always easy -to see or acknowledge what you don’t associate with on a top level – but if I look away from what I don’t like, it doesn’t stop it being there, just because I don’t like it (if only it were that easy). As you say in your piece, one/ we/ I – have to go through the layers. So, as you say, look, see, acknowledge. Then clean up.”



About the Author:

Marilyn Devonish has been described as the UK equivalent of Oprah Winfrey, Marianne Williamson, Anthony Robbins, a dash of Doreen Virtue, and the trio from Charmed all rolled into one. I (Marilyn Devonish) have admit that was too big of a statement for me to own, but I equally admit that I do like the sound of it and it did make me smile. Marilyn Devonish - Herself since Year 2000.

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