Dr. King’s Legacy of Emotional Emancipation
Happy King Holiday. We like to start every January by lifting up, and celebrating, Dr. King’s words and wisdom about the need for “psychological freedom” in the Black community.
We invite you to help us spread the word about this crucial aspect of his legacy by sharing the brief Q and A below with your family and friends.
When we ask why Black people are so often dehumanized, there is no more straightforward answer than Dr. King’s: “Somebody told a lie one day… They made everything Black, ugly and evil.”
What is the lie? That Black people are inferior to white people. Dr. King called this lie “cultural homicide.”
Who told that lie? The earliest surviving writings telling the lie that Black people are inferior were created by the Portuguese, the first Europeans to launch what some call the Transatlantic Slave Trade and what we prefer to call the Transatlantic Trafficking in African Human Beings.
When did they start telling the lie? In the 1400s, when Prince Henry, the Navigator began trading with Africans for seal skins, oil, gold dust, ostrich eggs–and human beings. By the 1440s, the Portuguese were investing heavily in the lucrative business of enslaving African people.
Why did they tell the lie? Portugal and other European nations told the lie to justify their enslavement of African people and the exploitation of Africa’s riches.
How did they tell the lie? They erased Africa’s rich history and replaced it with the lie. They used law, religion, education, psychology, literature, media, and more to repeat the lie—that everything that comes out of Africa, especially its people, is to be devalued and dehumanized.
Where did they tell the lie? Everywhere. All across the world, including Africa and every place where Africans were scattered. The lie has been told and retold, and reinforced with terror and violence, for the past six centuries.
Where is the lie today? It is all around us and all too often in our minds and spirits. It is like the air we breathe. It’s just there—quietly affecting how others see us and how we see ourselves. It is the thread that runs through the whole fabric of systemic anti-Blackness. It is the root cause of the dehumanization of Black people and the distinct challenges we face today.
How do we free ourselves from the lie?
Dr. King declared that “any movement for the Negro’s freedom that overlooks th[e] necessity [of psychological freedom] is only waiting to be buried.” He said that “the Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation.”
The global grassroots movement for emotional emancipation being led by Community Healing Network is mobilizing Black people to attend to the long-overdue and urgently needed work of writing and signing our own emotional emancipation proclamations–of freeing ourselves and our children from the lie of White superiority and Black inferiority—once and for all.
It is well past time to end the association between blackness and inferiority, and restore the association between blackness and humanity.
We invite you to join the movement to write your own emancipation proclamation and help us make this the Decade to Embrace the Truth of Black Humanity.
Our children—and our ancestors—are waiting.
Enola G. Aird, CHN Founder and President