My name is Barbara Love. I am a Black woman, social justice activist, Professor Emeritus, liberation worker, writer, and teacher who has worked toward ending racism over the last 50 plus years. I teach and lead classes and workshops in Re-evaluation Counseling, working with hundreds of Black people throughout the Americas, Europe, and Africa with a focus on healing the hurts of racism and internalized racism.
Over the course of my career, I have witnessed many ways that organizations committed to social change, and especially organizations committed to ending racism, can be undermined and disrupted by media under the pretext of an investigation of some alleged wrongdoing or other “suspicions.”
Boston media recently published several pieces about Re-evaluation Counseling following concerns expressed by a number of Students of Color in the Boston Public Schools. I note that rather than follow through on the longstanding complaints that Black students and parents have had with the Boston Public schools, Boston media pursued an “investigation” of Re-evaluation Counseling. They published an Op-Ed by a “former member” of Re-evaluation Counseling where the writer described their unfortunately negative experience with Re-evaluation Counseling, linked their negative experience to the concerns expressed by the Boston Public School students, and presumably concluded that these two descriptions of negative experiences formed a sufficient basis for condemning both Re-evaluation Counseling as an organization and the peer counseling practices that we teach.
With so many hideous faces of racism showing themselves in the US in the present time, I can find no legitimate justification for newspapers to be focusing time and resources in this way on an organization that is working for social change, especially working to end racism, and using the experiences of Black students as the basis for this disrupting project.
Some of these faces of racism in the US are:
- Legislators in 47 states have introduced over 360 bills aimed at voter suppression, aiming to create the worst voter suppression perhaps since Reconstruction.
- Legislation that seeks to prohibit and limit teaching and learning about sexism and racism is being introduced in legislatures around the US.
- Varied forms of legislation have been introduced forbidding Black, Indigenous, and Brown people from naming, describing, and discussing their experiences of racism and white supremacy, especially in schools, colleges, and universities and other organizations where we experience our lives.
- Climate change increasingly disproportionately impacts the lives of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and communities in disastrous ways. There are still too few Black, Indigenous, and Brown people involved in setting policy in the climate change movement.
- COVID-19 disproportionalities continue to disrupt Black, Indigenous, and Brown communities.
- Police have shot and killed 71 Black people in the first five months of 2021.
The race-based fearmongering of the last four years and the flames of divisiveness that have been so avidly fanned by a range of forces in the US have made our work very difficult.
I know that Re-evaluation Counseling is not a good match for everyone. No single counseling modality can be. Mistakes may have been made. Any harm that has been done should be repaired. A single story is seldom representative of the whole. When a mistake made in an organization working for social change is used as the justification for disrupting and undermining the work of that organization, this perpetuates the general pattern of divisiveness running rampant in the US at the present time.
Yours for liberation,