What has emerged from the controversy surrounding the Greenburgh Black Lives Matter Mural is how easy it is for the intentions of a well-meaning citizenry to be corrupted by the wounds of generational trauma, which affect not just Black and Brown people, but white people as well. Specifically, the lived experience of Jewish persons belies the generational wounds of the Holocaust, which is well-documented; its horrors have been widely and rightly acknowledged. The pain of that event lives on in the memories and the legacy of a proud people who sacrificed much and whose right is it to defend the memory of the atrocities they suffered.
The lived experience of African Americans speaks to a level of generational wounding, which though acknowledged by some, has yet to be adequately addressed and has left many Black and Brown people feeling unheard and unhealed, and therefore particularly sensitive to any experience that feels like further disapproval and disenfranchisement by those who do not share the burden of the African American experience. This is not unreasonable, especially considering the continued traumatization of people of color, both nationally and globally.
Although our town board does not have a perfect record, by any means, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner has correctly pointed to the progressive actions of the Greenburgh community working together to stand against structural racism and to create an ethos of brotherly love. Though for some, these actions have fallen short, this mural represents an opportunity for an even greater message to be broadcast to the world; that healing is possible when a community stands united for justice, knowing that racism dehumanizes everyone, understanding that we all bear the wounds of our individual and collective inheritance. Rather than falling prey to egoic expression, which demands that we point fingers of blame away from us at all costs, the invitation is that we lean into the fragility of our feelings and come together in conversation about who we are called to be in this moment, lest the possibility of a greater legacy be squandered.
Rather than fighting about content and procedures, might it not be prudent for concerned parties to come together peacefully with an intention, not to accuse or defend, but to lift their common humanity in a spirit of reconciliation not just for themselves, but for the benefit of an entire community? Good leadership is not always about being strong in our stance; it is also about being flexible and acknowledging that vulnerability in times of conflict can also be a strength.
Healing happens in community and community happens in conversation. No problem has ever been resolved by finger pointing and grand standing. As a community of people committed to creating a world that works for everyone, we have an opportunity to show what is possible when people release the need to be right and embrace a generosity of listening that sets the tone for reconciliation and healing. Let us not allow our woundedness to keep us from accessing our strengths. Only in collaborative conversation can we transcend generational trauma and move humanity forward. Let us not fall prey to our need to be right.
Reverend Lane L. Cobb, MS CPC – Interfaith Minister / Founder, Race Talk Revolution, Inc.
About The Author: Reverend Lane Cobb is an author, ordained interfaith minister, and co-founder of Race Talk Revolution, Inc. a non-profit organization committed to cultivating courageous inclusive dialogue about race and racism in the United States. Her weekly Zoom platform of the same name provides a safe space for diverse audiences to share lived experience, connect with their common humanity and explore strategies for creating a world that works for everyone. These conversations are free and open to the public and are broadcast live on Zoom and FB on Wednesdays from noon – 1:30 EST. You can see past episodes on the Race Talk Revolution YouTube channel and learn more at racetalkrevolution.com.
Black Westchester - News With The Black Point Of View is an online news magazine for people of color for Westchester and the Tri- State area of New York at every economic level. Our mission is to promote the concept of “community” through media.