This article contains mentions of sexual assault and suicide.
“I can’t root for someone just because they’re Black and Queer…” — a sentence I thought I’d never hear in BC. After seeing a white woman unleash her inner Captain America to save a Pomeranian from being coyote food and witnessing an Asian Canadian college kid twerk to Cardi B at a volleyball game, I thought, “The BC brats are all right.”
Now, if only Black people didn’t get stared at like extras from Get Out, we’d actually get somewhere. We always have to deal with microaggressions from Euro-Canadians, or as I like to call them, “the colonizer’s ghetto cousins.” Alas, God decided he needed a laugh so he put me in a class with a woman with more caucasity than Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau and Candace Owens combined. Let’s call her Baguette. I deem this nickname fitting because she has more passion for French bread than the Black Lives Matter movement.
Baguette almost drove me to suicide last year but, I decided to take a nap and seek therapy. I had already been seeking help before, but I realized that I needed to take my healing journey to the next level because I refuse to lose to someone who wears hiking shoes all year long.
After deep thought and a lot of marijuana, I came up with the Okoli Method, a mixture of meditation, Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) and Critical Race Theory (CRT). With the Okoli Method, I’ve been able to see real progress. I’m more open in class and I’m on top of homework. I just pray that this method will give me the psychological strength to deal with the Karens of the world — one of the many reasons I left Alberta.
To all my BIPOC folks, I hope you can use some of these methods to make peace with your own demons as you fight the ignorance of racism. I’ve left some exercises you can try out as you start your healing journey.
I can already hear a Calgarian African auntie in my head as I write this. “Are you a witch?!” Auntie Funke says as she pats her bootleg Halle Berry wig.
African Canadians, I know an Auntie Funke lives in your head too. For Caribbean Canadians, it’s Ms. Chantel telling you to stay away from Obeah. Whoever it is, tell them to shut up. This is your life and Casper the Friendly Ghost isn’t going to possess you just because you decided to get some peace of mind.
Meditation gives you the grace to sit in stillness as your intrusive thoughts pass by. You learn to ground yourself in the present and not get lost in your head. I know being the only Black person or one of the few Black people in your class can be very stressful. Especially if you keep it real, you feel what I’m sayin’? I swear, with every real one, there’s a Baguette lurking in the shadows ready to tap into the ways of their ancestors. So take this meditation time to blow off steam. Make it a part of your routine. Here’s a link to a free guided meditation.
Internal Family Systems Therapy
There are mini people that live inside you, and I’m not talking about the voice of your nagging mother telling you to do your laundry every Saturday. I mean sub-personalities or Parts; pieces of your psyche that play different roles in your life. In Self-Therapy, psychologist Jay Earley said parts are “metaphors of the psyche” that you can’t get rid of but only suppress. You should know that these “clumsy and primitive” feelings will bubble up to the surface in other ways.
There are two types of extreme Parts: exiles and protectors. Exiles are our inner children who are in pain from the past and protectors are the parts that protect you from current pain that may be due to childhood trauma. I’ll use myself as an example.
I’ve dealt with a lot of anti-Blackness growing up. I’ve heard everything from n**ger, n**ga, Aunt Jemima and monkey to being mocked with the imitation of a gorilla! And all that was just from people of colour (good ol’ BIPOC allyship). It didn’t help that I was sexually assaulted multiple times when I was younger (no punchline for that sadly), so I’ve been hyper-sensitive for a while. So, when Baguette was so disgusted by my presence during our creative writing workshop to the point that she refused to look at me, I was triggered. She and none of my classmates really liked the concept of an African God coming to seek revenge on the Americas. For more context, it was supposed to be a satirical comedy (I hope that soothed some racial fragility complexes).
Anyway, these Parts need the guidance of The Self.
“The Self is connected to the deeper ground of being that spiritual teachings speak of, sometimes called God,” wrote Earley in Self-Therapy. “It has access to a higher understanding that can guide you in dealing with the larger questions of life. It allows you to be fully present and embodied in each moment, with aliveness and depth. It is an inexhaustible fountain of love.”
As you discover who your Parts are with “curiosity and compassion” you will form an internal family within you.
Grab your journal or device (I already know what the iPad babes are using) and try to answer these questions about your exile:
- What emotions does it feel?
- What pain does it carry?
- What is it afraid of?
- What negative beliefs does it have?
- What situation or relationship is it stuck in since childhood?
- What current situations seem to trigger it?
- What protectors come up when that happens?
It’s fine if you don’t have answers to all these questions yet.
Critical Race Theory
I know the Karens will be calling their confidants if you hit them with this stuff, but I’m going to give you the real. As early as 1970, all the progress of the Civil Rights Movement had basically been rolled back by colonial masters. As a result, lawyers, activists and legal scholars started to create theories and strategies to combat the subtler forms of racism that plague us in the current day. Think about the school-to-prison pipeline or how Canadians still act like slavery didn’t happen.
Also, guess what? Microaggressions are acts of racism! They are ‘simple’ daily situations of the conscious and subconscious. Additionally, they are built into every institution as well as being personal, private and corrupt.
There are two types of CRT thinkers: idealists and realists. Idealists believe that racism and discrimination are mainly a mentality. They say race is a social construct and not a biological reality. They believe that we can dismantle it with a change in belief systems (images, words, attitudes, unconscious feelings, scripts and social teachings) that certain people are less smart, dependable, hardworking, honest and North American than others.
To realists or economic determinists, racism is a means by which society allocates privilege and status. Racial hierarchies determine who gets tangible privilege (the best jobs, the best schools and invitations to parties in people’s homes). Realists believe anti-Black prejudice sprang up with slavery and the capitalists’ desire for labour. Europeans used to have a positive perspective of Africans for their mathematics, medicine and astronomy. Conquering nations universally demonize their subjects to feel better about exploiting them. Circumstances change so that one group finds it possible to seize advantage or exploit another. They do so and then form appropriate collective attitudes to rationalize what has happened.
Now, I know everyone from the Britneys to the Todds and even the Bobatundes (at least the conservative ones) want to know, ‘How will left wing propaganda help me?’ Well, simply put, it will wake you the fuck up! World powers have been using everything from race, religion, sport teams and male podcasts (down with Andrew Tate, God help us) to hold the human race back. But activists have been working diligently in the spirit of Martin Luther King’s legacy to dismantle our racist institutions and build something new instead of gaslighting BIPOC.
Well, I hope you’ve learned something or at least had a laugh. I know I smiled while writing this. And, to the Baguettes of the world, I hope you heal from your racist ways. This is Canada! If you want to be racist, then time travel to the past with the rest of your ghetto cousins so we can move forward. Just kidding! But, I’m really not. Happy healing!
This piece is part of The Ubyssey and UBC Black Student Union's 2023 Black History Month supplement, titled B1%CK. Read the full supplement here, or pick up a print paper on UBC's Vancouver campus.