This essay is dedicated to two young African American women at the Philadelphia airport tourism counter.
Me: Our plane is stranded for at least the next 24 hours. Is this enough time to take my daughter to see sights in the city?
Tour Guide (TG): Yes, you can go to Liberty Bell, Independence Hall….It was apparent that she had recited this list hundreds of times. As she was talking, I was aware that I had visited these sites before, and while I looked forward to sharing them with my daughter, there was a voice inside of me calling forth a visit to somewhere less frequently known.
Me: Is there somewhere you recommend we visit to learn about history in the area that’s less well known?
TG: She paused, her eyes opened wider, and she looked at her friend, saying with palpable risk in her voice, more as a question than a statement, “You could go to the African American History Museum (AAHM)?” I sensed her heart opening as she risked making this suggestion.
Me: Yes – this is just right. How do we get there? I witnessed an immediate feeling of release as the looks on their faces came to life and the energy in their bodies became immediately engaged at our acceptance of their idea. They quickly looked in a different drawer than where all the frequently asked for brochures were kept, the second woman saying, “No one ever asks to go here,” pulling out an AAHM brochure from the back of the drawer.
In my Ancestral Blueprints circles, I often work with descendants of both those who were enslaved and those who enslaved. The images from the family soul are persistent: the unhealed collective wounds of slavery ask to be acknowledged and honored, and Systemic Family Constellations offer a way to access embodied strength and blessing from our ancestors to do so.
“There is a palpable disconnection in America’s soul regarding the profound effect slavery has had so on many aspects of life in the United States. The human tendency to avoid reconnection with feelings regarding this long chapter in U.S. history is an aspect of trauma’s “freeze” response.
This frozenness has kept us from recognizing slavery’s contribution to the American and global economy, and today we all pay the price for ignoring enslaved African Americans’ contributions. These unhealed, unacknowledged collective wounds of slavery’s landscape cuts us off from creating sustainable, just solutions for today’s economy. We deeply need one another to melt these frozen traumas.
“Each of us is affected by the history that has taken place on American Soil, whether our ancestors were enslaved, slave owners, or neither. The unacknowledged truth of slavery’s place in America’s soul, as well as its’ financial life, has been passed down from one generation to the next…and today’s economic climate resonates with earlier unacknowledged, unhealed images from American history. ” excerpt from Ancestral Blueprints: Revealing Invisible Truths in America’s Soul.
Just as in the Philadelphia airport experience, all family histories have hidden drawers with brochures of images from the family soul waiting to be seen. Sometimes we need tour guides to help us experience opening our hearts to these previously unacknowledged truths.
Here’s to all of us coming together to melt these frozen, inherited images and to all of us in our human family opening our hearts to one another with truth and compassion.
© Lisa Iversen February 2011