Seeing with the Eye of Spirit

Posted By on August 25, 2014

In my last blog post I referred to myself as Guinea Pig G, in the spirit of Buckminster Fuller. I also stated my intention of sharing my longitudinal research process findings from using my life as a social experiment in transforming the black British Caribbean life experience.

Being black British Caribbean, an historically racialised identity, made me highly victimisable in Britain in ways I did not
understand. You will need to refer to my book – Towards Bicultural Competence: Beyond Black and White – to gain insights into my formative years and socialisation in Britain to understand why this was the case.

Unable and unwilling to struggle any longer with racism and discrimination in the workplace I returned to education to make a new start, a year after my first son’s birth, in 1982. I did not want to continue to transmit this toxic legacy of race to my son.

In higher education I found myself being subjected to a social phenomena I referred to in my book as ‘black socialisation’. This was a breakthrough insight, perceived through ‘the eye of spirit’ (Ken Wilber), moving me beyond the societal explanation of ‘racism’ to recognise the differential black socialisation process in action, enforced by those who had undergone ‘white socialisation’, with me as a socialised ‘black’ as its victim.

In truth, what I was experiencing, and later learnt to become a witness to, was ‘forceful black socialisation’ in action. I was by this time normalised to black socialisation. It was the ‘forceful’ systematic and deliberate nature of its imposition in higher education which revealed what Josephn Chiltern Pierce refers to as a ‘crack in the cosmic egg’ (of race, in this instance).

Forceful black socialisation eventually pushed me into an existential crisis of meaning. The literature describes such crises as follows:

A crisis can be defined as the perception or experience of an event (genuine harm, the threat of harm, or a challenge) as an intolerable difficulty (James & Gilliland, 2001). The crisis is an aberration from the person’s typical pattern of functioning, and he or she cannot manage the event through usual methods of coping. The person either lacks knowledge about how to manage the situation or, due to feeling overwhelmed, lacks the ability to focus his or her energies on it. All people experience crises at times in their lives. A crisis often results when we face a serious stressor with which we have no prior experience. The stressor may be biological (a major illness), interpersonal (the sudden loss of a loved one), or environmental (unemployment or a natural disaster). The Chinese characters that represent the word crisis are the one that means danger and another that means opportunity. From this point of view, a crisis can be defined as a “dangerous opportunity.” An existential crisis is dangerous because it often feels overwhelming, but it is an opportunity because it often forces us to look for strengths, meanings, and solutions that are outside of our normal range of awareness (Walsh and Lantz, 2007)

Xanthos (2009) pours more light on such crisis amongst members of the black British Caribbean social category in her article about schizophrenia.

This light-bulb experience, in the midst of the existential crisis of meaning I was undergoing, revealed the suboptimal perception my invariably white authority figures/socialisers had of me as a black member of the society pushing me into an existential crisis of meaning. Fortunately, I perceived the ‘dangerous opportunity’ in my crisis, as a lecturer in higher education and why it was vital for me, as the descendant of enslaved Africans, to become responsible for my own education. Thus the process of my social experiment in transforming the black British Caribbean life experience began.

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