“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.” This quote was first spoken by the late Marcus Garvey and brought to fame by the beloved Bob Marley in Redemption song. I’ve listened to this song a hundred times over and only recently have the words replayed in my mind verbatim as if I had spoken them myself.
I assert that now, more than ever, this quote resonates with a growing number of human begins all over the world. I suspect we all go through some degree of mental emancipation throughout our lives as we begin to challenge and sometimes let go of certain beliefs held and passed onto us by our parents, religions and institutions in which we participant. Yet, I think Garvey had a bigger vision. An emancipation of ideologies and paradigms kept in place that paralyze whole communities.
In the tenth year celebratory issue of the Oprah magazine, Oprah turned the tables and instead of interviewing others, allowed several readers to interview her; no question was off-limits. Among those asked was a question regarding her ethnicity and how it may have created unnecessary challenge in her life and rise to fame. Oprah’s response was not at all surprising to me, in fact it is what I would have anticipated from her. She said she didn’t see herself as black, rather she sees herself as a child of God. She recognizes that she lives in a world that continues to be still deeply entrenched in a conversation about race and that perhaps those conversations, if allowed, could have created a very different realty for her. Yet, she walks forward with a belief and conviction in her own right and power as a human being. What a great example of mental emancipation. Can you imagine what her life might have been like had she chosen to see herself inside the context the world still holds about what it is to be black and a female?
On November 4, 2008 our nation made a statement, a collective declaration that a new future distinct from our country’s past was desired and eminent. While the world watched, the majority of Americans would put forth their energy in expressing to the world and Universe that a new era for America was dawning. Whether you voted for President Barak Obama or opposed his platform, the process of change in America was set in motion. Perhaps this is what Garvey spoke of. A freeing of the mind that translates to collective action.
What I know about declarations…in the very moment it is made, all that is not consistent with the new declaration will be clearly revealed; that is to say when you make up your mind about what you truly desired, everything that you do not desire will be in your immediate view. This is a good thing yet many will see it as a time of uncertainty and feelings of insecurity and frustration will begin to take hold. Individuals begin to resist and fight these feelings, not the future, and seek shelter…usually with others who are experiencing the same discord steaming from the same belief patterns. And this all leads to unnecessary suffering.
So what’s missing? What will help bring about the change we collectively seek as a community of Americans? To start, we must begin to express what has been hidden from our view and is at the core of our actions. We must begin to speak our truth to each other, listen to each other, in a way that causes healing. What we need as a community is a safe and loving environment to express and face the beliefs we’ve held so tightly to without judgment. We must be willing to say what has yet to be said with an intention of learning something new. We must face our fears which are held in our unspoken beliefs and when we can face those fears we experience a new level of courage. A courage to create the future we’ve already declared we want.
Mental Emancipation is a beginning. Say something.