Almost every week, I see headlines of police killings of unarmed Black people, of children being handcuffed and humiliated by police. How would these police feel if their child was treated this way? What thoughts enabled the police to look on a child as not a child because her skin was dark? What interactions has this policeman had with Black people? What did he grow up hearing and learning to think about people different from him, his family, and friends? What are the racial stories she tells herself and others?
The first step in racial healing is to look at the stories you’re conscious of being told and of telling yourself. You may have traumatic stories of racial injustice, toxic work spaces, or unequal treatment. Or you may have experienced violence from a person of another race. Often these stories are pushed to the back of your consciousness. Yet, they influence not only how you interact with people of any race but also how you interact with yourself. Without the experience of ancestral healing, your true self may be hidden beneath shrouds of the past.
In traditional cultures and religions, those who were remembered and revered as divine guides were often individuals whose lives benefitted their community. They were known for their wisdom and healing abilities. For example, the Egyptian god Imhotep was worshipped, as the God of Medicine, in Egypt from 2850 B.C. to 550 A.D., longer than Christianity has existed.
Imhotep was a true “renaissance” man who lived in Egypt in the Third Dynasty. He was an architect, credited with creating the first Egyptian pyramids. He was deified because of the care he gave, as court physician, to King Zoser. His other talents included astronomy, magic, philosophy, and poetry.
After his death, his fame increased and led to the building of the first Temple of Imhotep, the first hospital. People from around the world came for prayer, peace, and to receive physical healing. His well known quote “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we shall die,” has often been attributed to other sources.
Today, Imhotep isn’t worshipped, but the influence of his life, thoughts, and work remain in the buildings he designed and the stories of his work. The history of the USA, as a country, is not 500 years. Yet, most Americans have little idea of their biological heritage. This lack of knowledge leads to social and personal disconnection. If you do not know where you came from how do you know who you truly are? How do you know if your ideas about race and other people are your own ideas and feelings or the unconscious inheritance from your ancestors? What are the stories you’ve learned about your ancestors?