Once You Know Something You Cannot Un-Know It
When I trained psychotherapists this was a line I used very often when it came to information that a client may discover. Once a person knows something they really cannot un-know it. Oh yes, people try to repress and ignore it but ultimately once something comes from the unconscious to the conscious the time has come to act.
This may be controversial to some, but frankly if I did not write something about this, I would not be able to forgive myself. Yesterday, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. A just decision taken after an incident which surely cannot be misunderstood. By which I mean, that the United States is intrinsically racist. I do not believe that they mean to be, but if you trace its origins back to slavery and this ignominious line in the constitution Article one, section two of the Constitution of the United States declared that “any person who was not free would be counted as three–fifths of a free individual for the purposes of determining congressional representation”, translation, black people were considered less than a whole person. Now, there have been those who have said that this was only to make things fair in terms of representation as after all, the South had the majority of slaves but they were also less populated by full people than the North, so that made this ok.
Even with the lens of history, no one can possibly excuse this interpretation of humanity. This is the cornerstone of race relations in the United States. I have many times, discussed that America could do with being on the Psychotherapist’s couch as I believe that the weight of it’s neurosis is becoming more than can be borne. The world sees the George Floyd case and many, many others as an intrinsic hypocrisy in the American Ideal. Psychotherapists know the damage that can be caused to the psyche when it is in conflict. I would argue that the American psyche is in conflict. The time has come to end this conflict once and for all.
Many nations, like South Africa and even here in Northern Ireland have established “Truth and Reconciliation” commissions to try to heal the wounds of racism and sectarianism. I think the time has long past for the United States to do the same. Will the information be hard for White America to hear? Yes undoubtedly, however, these things need to be aired otherwise the poison of racism especially in the law enforcement community will destroy the ideals that America would like to be known for. So as there can be no accusation of bias on my part I will disclose that I have black family as well as family in law enforcement in the US. So, I believe I can be balanced in terms of saying that racism is now something every sentient being in the United States knows, it is not something that can be unknown now. Embrace the bravery which you as a nation purport to exemplify and get your house in order for as Lincoln said “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”