As the multiracial population is vastly growing in the United States (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 2011), it is important to know about the unique experiences that affect multiracial people, as these can arise in psychotherapy or during casual interactions in the clinic or office. Multiracial people are racially and culturally diverse and identify with two or more races. Multiracial clients are often young, and multiracial children are the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S. (Saulny, 2011). Moreover, interracial marriages have been at an all-time high recently (Chen, 2010). This increase is likely related to the historic racist laws in the U.S. that made interracial marriage illegal in many states, until federally overruled in 1967 with the Loving v. Virginia case. Yet, despite the fact that multiracial people are now one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, it is still one of the smallest demographic groups, comprising only 2.3% of the American population (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 2011). Additionally, though mental health professionals should have adequate multicultural or diversity training, the multiracial population is often not studied as extensively as other racial and ethnic groups.
Multiracial people can experience discrimination and/or microaggressions that are tied to being racially and ethnically mixed (Johnston & Nadal, 2010; Salahuddin & O’Brien, 2011). Microaggressions often are unconscious implicit social acts or statements that insult and discriminate against others. They are less explicit than straightforward verbal discrimination. Often, it is difficult to identify microaggressions and, when microaggressions occur, the receiver may be met with disbelief and is often told to stop being overly touchy or sensitive (Johnston & Nadal, 2010; Sue et al., 2007). Examples of multiracial microaggressions are explained further in this article and can include invalidation of one’s racial identity, exclusion and isolation, objectification, assumption that multiracial people are monoracial, denial of multiracial reality, and pathologizing of multiracial identity (Johnston & Nadal, 2010).
Multiracial people can even receive discrimination from their own family members. Additionally, these microaggressions can occur in the clinical setting during psychotherapy. By understanding these microaggressions as they happen in society, psychotherapists can be better equipped to avoid them in clinical practice. Moreover, understanding these stressors can help psychotherapists to knowledgably address them when they are part of a multiracial client’s presenting problem. This is important, as these stressful situations can definitely affect the emotional well-being of a multiracial person (Root, 1992; Salahuddin & O’Brien, 2011; Sanchez, 2010; Shih & Sanchez, 2005).
A common stressor is when multiracial people are not allowed to self-identify as multiracial. Denying multiracial people the right to identify themselves as multiracial can be detrimental. It can cause negative moods and negative self-views amongst multiracial people (Sanchez, 2010). In a study where multiracial people were forced to choose one race only on a questionnaire, the multiracial participants felt they had less power over their social environment (Townsend, Markus, & Bergsieker, 2009). This situation unfortunately happens often on demographic forms in multiple situations, from applying for a job or providing information at a new dentist’s office to signing up for a mailing list. In social interactions this stressor often pops up with use of the question “what are you?” by both innocent persons and people with negative biases. During such conversations, a multiracial person may disclose multiracial identity only to have the other person deny it, saying something like, “That’s not possible, you don’t look Black,” as if the other person is an expert on the way mixed race persons are “supposed” to look.
A multiracial person may experience this invalidation of one’s racial identity over and over again by many people and/or organizations many times throughout a day. Johnston and Nadal (2010) call this microaggression exclusion and isolation. For example, a multiracial client with an American Indian and White background talks about wanting to attend an American Indian community event during psychotherapy. Then the psychotherapist says, “But you’re not Native American, you’re so pale.” This leaves clients feeling as if they do not belong in the racial groups with which they identify, or that they are not allowed to identify with their racial and cultural groups.
Another common microaggression includes objectifying multiracial people or labeling multiracial people as exotic. These types of comments can make multiracial people feel as if they are not “the norm,” or are different, simply because the person making the comment may not often see or know of many mixed race people. In addition, such comments may make the person feel like an object, which can be dehumanizing (Johnston and Nadal, 2010). An example of this during psychotherapy would be if a mulitiracial client with low self-esteem is complaining of perceived faults or negative traits, and the psychotherapist says, “But you are so exotic looking!” as an attempt to point out something positive.
Another stressful situation can arise when multiracial people are assumed to be monoracial, or when people mistake the identity of a multiracial person (Johnston and Nadal, 2010). An example of this would be a psychotherapist who feels “safe” to speak negatively about Asian culture in front of a client who identifies as Asian and White, because the psychotherapist is assuming the client is not of Asian background. Events such as these leave multiracial clients exposed to comments that are “not meant for their ears,” yet are still hurtful and insulting. It can also leave a multiracial person feeling as if their physical appearance does not match what it “should.” Again, this “should” is being arbitrarily determined by others.
Denial of multiracial people’s reality is another microaggression (Johnston and Nadal, 2012). Psychotherapists may accidentally do this when multiracial clients bring up issues that have to do with their multiracial background in psychotherapy, such as racially-related discrimination from others. For example, a psychotherapist may say in disbelief that racism does not exist or, as the client is racially mixed, that they are exempt from racial issues and do not experience racism. A psychotherapist may tell a part-White, part-Black client they should not be offended by discrimination directed at Whites because they are “not really White.” These comments are invalidating, and racial discrimination that is perceived by multiracial individuals is an issue that should not be overlooked.
Lastly, an important microaggression to avoid is pathologizing multiracial people’s identities and experiences. This occurs when others view the multiracial identity itself, or multiracial person’s experiences, as abnormal (Johnston and Nadal, 2010). An example of this is when people believe mixed-race couples should not exist, as they would make biracial children unfit for society. This view was a common reason why interracial marriage was illegal decades ago (Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interests, 2009). Similarly, this microaggression happens when people assume biracial or multiracial people have psychological or identity “issues,” simply due to having a mixed racial background. These stereotypes imply multiracial people are abnormal, wrong, or that having multiracial offspring is deviant.
Generally, having a community or network of social support in which one can confide helps racial and ethnic minority populations deal with discrimination and the resultant stress that is associated with it. Having such a community is particularly important for multiracial people, as multiracial people can have difficulty finding a multicultural or multiracial community with which to identify (Phillips, 2004; Wehrly, Kenney, & Kenney, 1999). If unable to find role models with similar mixed racial backgrounds, multiracial youth may find it difficult to navigate periods of racial identity development (Shih & Sanchez, 2005). Moreover, qualitative research with multiracial children, adolescents, and young adults by Nakazawa (2003) has shown that, even if biracial children’s families openly discuss multiracial issues, the children may feel their parents are still not be able to completely grasp what it is like to be multiracial, and thus the issues that can stem from it. Additionally, a multiracial person by definition has family members of different races, meaning racism and/or lack of acceptance of multiracial people by family members is also very possible.
Such discrimination is, of course, confusing and frustrating, and has been linked to depression, low self-esteem, and lack of social connectedness (Salahuddin & O’Brien, 2011). Given these realities, it may be important, especially with younger clients, to address their levels of social support and whether they have social networks in which they feel accepted. This community does not necessarily need to consist of others who are multiracial. Helping clients find social support where their multiracial identities are supported can help them with healthy multiracial identity development, and provide a space to be able to frankly discuss their experiences with discrimination or microaggressions.
Some studies have shown that multiracial people experience lower self-esteem than Whites. For example, in a study involving negative feedback after completing a task, multiracial participants were significantly more likely to show lower self-esteem when they were asked to disclose their multiracial identity. This result was not found for White participants in the study. Additionally, the multiracial participants were significantly more likely than the White participants to experience anxiety in response to negative feedback (Sanchez & Bonam, 2009).
Research has found multiracial adolescents use more drugs and alcohol than all, or some, adolescent groups of one race, or who are monoracial (Chavez & Sanchez, 2010; Choi, Harachi, Gillmore, & Catalano, 2006). Racial discrimination in their neighborhoods and at school was significantly correlated with more substance abuse and violent behavior, underscoring the importance of inquiring about substance use and abuse, and what role substances play in multiracial clients’ lives. However, caution must be taken not to assume a multiracial client uses or abuses substances simply due to their multiracial background, as no causal relationship has ever been found between substance abuse and being multiracial.
Multiracial clients benefit from developing positive views of their multiracial identity, as an integrated multiracial identity is a protective factor promoting psychological well-being in adults (Jackson, Yoo, Guevarra, & Harrington, 2012). Adolescents who do not have a stable racial identity have shown lower self-esteem (Sanchez, Shih, & Garcia, 2009). For example, researchers have found that biracial people who identified as being biracial had significantly higher levels of self-esteem and significantly lower levels of depression than their biracial peers who did not identify as being biracial (Lusk, Taylor, Nanney, & Austin, 2010). If a multiracial client’s family or social environment invalidates, or does not support, the client’s mixed race identity, psychotherapists can be of great service by helping the client foster pride in that identity. Additionally, it would be helpful to provide multiracial people, especially children and adolescents, education on different identity stages and/or stressors they may face, and how to cope with difficult situations.
Despite the existence of many possible social stressors, multiracial people are resilient. A study revealed multiracial identity increases both an appreciation and empathy for cultural diversity among others. This shows that multiracial people may be more open to forming friendships with people from different racial groups than others (Shih & Sanchez, 2005). Moreover, multiracial adolescents and young adults are less likely to be subject to stereotype threat that causes poor performance on tasks. This may be because the multiracial participants are more likely to understand that race is not biological, but rather a social construct (Shih, Bonam, Sanchez, & Peck, 2007). These areas of resilience, and others, can be used as an aid in helping to strengthen the self-esteem of multiracial people and can help to counteract the effects of discrimination and microaggressions.
The development of the Multiracial Challenges and Resilience Scale (MCRS), a scale that measures multiracial discrimination and resultant stress, can be a useful tool when working with multiracial clients. The development of this measure also reflects the increasing need for clinicians to be able to determine if a multiracial person has experienced discrimination and how much stress they experience from it (Salahuddin & O’Brien, 2011). When using measures with the multiracial population, it is important to use the MCRS or similar scales as discrimination measures, as other tools are often normed with monoracial populations and do not have items that capture the stressors and discrimination multiracial people experience.
In conclusion, if a biracial or multiracial client describes experiences with racism as a presenting problem, it is of upmost importance for the clinician to understand that multiracial discrimination exists. Depending on the type of discrimination, it can leave the multiracial person feeling socially ostracized; not accepted by family, loved ones, or society; confused; and forced to choose one of racial background, and therefore family, over another (Root, 1992; Salahuddin & O’Brien, 2011; Sanchez, 2010; Shih & Sanchez, 2005). Such feelings of discrimination can be stress inducing (Salahuddin & O’Brien 2011), yet it is vital not to assume that simply because someone has a multiracial background that person must have psychological instability. By being aware of these unique types of multiracial discrimination, a clinician could more competently discuss the topic of discrimination with a multiracial client. The clinician could then begin to normalize the client’s feelings and experiences and provide psychoeducation on how and why discrimination occurs. Validating multiracial clients’ experiences with discrimination will help clients feel supported in therapy, allowing them to develop increased coping skills and resiliency in the face of these unique challenges.
In Nigeria, Okoye would have been warned from childhood to soften her features so she can find a man to marry her.
Marvel’s Black Panther is a rare blockbuster to have achieved both box office domination and genuine cultural significance. One of the reasons for this is the film’s unlikely but welcomed focus on feminism. Set in the fictional Afrofuturistic nation of Wakanda, Black Panther boasts a dazzling array of fabulous female characters fully in possession of their power and unapologetic about wielding it.
In Lagos, Nigeria, where the film is a huge hit, many have been touting the badassery of the women of Wakanda. Okoye, the fierce army leader embodied by Danai Gurira is a particular favourite. So is scene-stealer Letitia Wright as Shuri, the princess who doesn’t let royalty stop her realising her full potential as the technological saviour of Wakanda.
This almost unanimous show of support for Black Panther’s forward-thinking depiction of women, however, does not erase the fact that much of Nigeria still holds onto archaic patriarchal ideologies. Wakanda’s gender parity is notable for just how far away it is from the sad reality.
In much of Nigeria, Okoye would have been warned from childhood to soften her features so she can find a man to marry her. Shuri would have been discouraged from spending too much time at the laboratory for the same reasons. And as for Nakia, everyone would ask: what kind of girl chooses a high-flying career over the chance to become queen?
Women who go against scripted societal norms are frowned upon, treated as outcasts, and erased from history. In 1929, for example, thousands of women in eastern Nigeria rallied together and confronted their British colonial rulers. The movement was on a scale the colonial state had never previously witnessed and led to significant changes. However, the heroic women who led the Aba Women’s Revolt – people such as Nwanyeruwa and Ikonnia – are largely left out of mainstream history books.
Fela and the women
Also left out of the narrative until recently have been the many women that formed a crucial part of Fela Kuti’s legendary career. The Afrobeat pioneer and political activist may be Nigeria’s most famous son. He has been immortalised in the Tony Award-winning Fela! The Musical and in the 2014 documentary Finding Fela. His legacy and music have been debated endlessly in conference rooms, music festivals and bars all over the world.
However, in all this, little interest has been devoted to Fela’s women – the merry band of singers, dancers, and supporters who thronged to his “Kalakuta Republic” sanctuary, who defied societal scorn and parental pressure, who loved him and inspired his sound.
There is no Fela without the women. They cannot just be heard on countless recordings joyously chanting “open and close”. They were an intrinsic and extricable part of the artistic legacy associated with Fela. Their striking fashion statements, creative use of beads, headgear, body art and Ankara prints remain indelible in today’s culture. Their graphic representations are rendered in music videos by pop stars from Wizkid to Niniola and in glossy magazine photo spreads.
But despite this rich legacy and gorgeous imagery, the stories and lives of Fela’s women have rarely been explored.
It is this imbalance that the splashy stage musical Fela and the Kalakuta Queens seeks to redress. Premiering in Lagos last December, the three-hour production follows Fela, the women that surrounded him, and the dynamics that influenced their relationship.
“I wondered why no one was talking about these women who were a significant part of Fela’s life and I wanted to know more about them,” director Bolanle Austen Peters remarked at one of the sold out showings.
The musical is commendable in shining a light on these female artists, pioneers and musicians. We learn some of the names of Fela’s “queens”, such as Funmilayo and Laide. However, in creating a crowd-pleasing fairy tale of female loyalty and companionship, the production, backed by Fela’s estate, fails to address the singer’s noted misogyny and violence towards women.
We gain little insight into why so many remained devoted to the cause, what made them tick, and what their own dreams and aspirations were. Most problematically, the play’s climactic scene – which depicts Fela’s highly controversial wedding to 27 women in a single ceremony – is played as an act of redemption set to the swirling instrumentation of Ololufe, a rare Fela love song.
Lady no be master
This form of female under-representation, even in a piece of art aiming to celebrate women, is not uncommon. This is the case around the world and certainly in Nigeria. Culture reflects society, which is in part shaped by politics and vested interests.
In Nigeria, for example, a gender equality bill which seeks to prohibit all forms of gender-based discrimination is waiting in the Senate. It has been stalled since 2016 due to opposition by religious and traditional groups. The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development has a national strategy to end child marriage, but according to UNICEF, 12 out of Nigeria’s 36 states are yet to enact the child rights act adopted at the national level in 2003.
In Lagos, the city that was both home and hell for the singer, Fela’s music blares out of speakers at night clubs, at parties, and on the radio. One of the songs one hears frequently is the classic Lady in which Fela castigates African women for daring to fancy themselves equal to men. “She want sit down for table before anybody, she want a piece of meat before anybody”, he complains scathingly.
That song was released in 1972, but for all the progress Nigeria has made on gender equality over the past half a century, Lady could have been released last week. Wakanda’s gender relations in Black Panther seem so far off, they could be from a thousand years in the future. Less than 6% of Nigeria’s lawmakers are women, the lowest proportion in Africa. Women own just 20% of enterprises in the formal sector. A third of women have experienced physical abuse.
One hopes that the women of Wakanda can inspire Nigeria’s women and girls, along with their male allies, to see things differently and transform gender relations in the country. But for now, it is sadly apparent that a girl born in the North is more likely to be married off at childhood than lead an army like Okoye, devote her life to study like Shuri, or unabashedly pursue her own calling like Nakia.
Black Panther may provide an aspirational blueprint, but for now, Fela won’t be worried. Nigeria is still a long way off before “Lady na master”.
By Wilfred Okiche on http://www.africanarguments.org
Afrofuturism reimagines the past and envisions what can be. If fact follows fiction, the future will belong to Africa and our storytellers.
Clockwise from top left: Sanford Bigger’s “Bam”; a bodypainting work by Laolu Senbanjo; the cover of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death; Janelle Monae’s album The ArchAndroid; poster from Black Panther; Awol Erizku’s “Girl With A Bamboo Earring”.
A decade ago, superhero films were almost universally about white male characters, but the buzz around Black Panther reveals a growing appetite for art that pays homage to black history and black power. Within 24 hours of its release, the Marvel film had set a new sales record, helping to mainstream the Afrofuturism movement.
The term Afrofuturism, coined in 1993, seeks to reclaim black identity through art, culture, and political resistance. It is an intersectional lens through which to view possible futures or alternate realities, though it is rooted in chronological fluidity. That’s to say it is as much a reflection of the past as a projection of a brighter future in which black and African culture does not hide in the margins of the white mainstream.
When I grew up in 1970s Nigeria, the country hosted Festac ’77, a famous celebration of African history and culture that welcomed greats from Stevie Wonder to Miriam Makeba. I recall going to the National Arts Theatre and watching Ipi Tombi, a South African musical. The imagery from that experience jumpstarted my career as a director nearly 40 years later.
In that era, hope of Africa’s promise was high, but images of the Great African nation, a model of black modernity, died soon after during structural adjustment in the 1980s. Shrinking budgets left little space to dream about fine art or literature.
In Black Panther, the imaginary kingdom of Wakanda – like the fantastical realms of African-American author N.K. Jemisin – resurrects a vision of black sovereignty and success that has long been dormant. As the Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor says, “African science fiction’s blood runs deep, and it’s old, and it’s ready to come forth. And when it does, imagine the new technologies, ideas and sociopolitical changes it will inspire.”
Wakanda, for example, is the world’s most technologically-advanced country. This may seem a far cry from typical depictions of poverty-stricken Africa. However, as it becomes a truly digital-first continent, Afrofuturist films like Black Panther may just be giving us a glimpse at the future.
It can be hard to conjure up images of illustrious black royalty in a present that is fraught with intercommunal tensions. In the past year, racial inequality has been laid bare, from South Africa, where #RhodesMustFall challenged the remnants of brutal colonisation, to the US, where white supremacy groups have come out of the shadows.
Given the sometimes bleak present-day circumstances of Afro-descended people, Afrofuturism is a chance to envision a radical and progressive vision of blackness – one in which justice reigns in superheroes and where black creativity is mystical and fascinating. In this space, black life matters.
The body artwork of the Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo (above), for example, paints spiritual motifs on famous figures and reclaims African art in an overtly white culture. Meanwhile, Sanford Bigger’s 2015 work, Bam, features statues “re-sculpted” by real bullets and subtly calls out police brutality in America. These artworks are rooted in techniques and traditions of the diaspora, but are resolutely forward-looking.
Black history often lives in the shadows of modern consciousness. Afrofuturism is a means to discover that history in an impactful and engaging way. Musicians such as Janelle Monae and filmmakers like Ryan Coogler create new vehicles to challenge the status quo.
Time is not linear in this genre. An imagined future can impact the present as it unearths a buried African past. Afrofuturism pieces together parts of a history that people were not privy to as their stories had been sidelined for so long.
Afrofuturist novels in particular offer a unique platform to shed light on Africa’s history. Consider Kindred by Octavia Butler, in which a woman is transported from 1970s California to Africa at the height of the slave trade; or Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, about a woman tormented by her sorcerer father in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Sudan.
Afrofuturism is a channel through which artists can go back in time to give old works of art a new, decidedly African identity. This is the case, for example, with Awol Erizku’s distinctive painting Girl With a Bamboo Earring, a 2012 interpretation of Vermeer’s famous Girl With a Pearl Earring. Like the historical recovery projects black intellectuals have engaged in for over 200 years, Afrofuturism does more than fight the erasing of black contributions to global history: it empowers and reimagines the past for lasting cultural impact.
If life truly imitates art, then art must lead the way in inclusiveness and representations that honour all of us. For Afrofuturism to function not as mere fantasy but as a revelation, it must be mainstreamed by producers and publishers and made equal to white artistic expression. History has been edited and the present is a silencer. But if fact follows fiction, the future will belong to Africa and our storytellers.
- The League of Extravagant Grannies, and other East African Creatives to Watch
- The Colonial Bastard Rhodes Typeface, and other Southern African Creatives to Watch
- Poetry Soup, and other North African Creatives to Watch
- Monochrome Lagos, and other West African Creatives to Watch
🇬🇧Racism is not about how you look, it is about how people assign meaning to how you look.
Race is the least important aspect in determining character, yet it is often the most significant factor in how we are perceived.
Race is a small but powerful word. Race shapes how one sees and is seen by others. Yet, many people poorly understand what race is and isn’t.
We expect people to look different. And why not? Like a fingerprint, each person is unique. Every person represents a one-of-a-kind, combination of their parents’, grandparents’ and family’s ancestry. And every person experiences life somewhat differently than others.
Differences… they’re a cause for joy and sorrow. We celebrate differences in personal identity, family background, country and language. At the same time, differences among people have been the basis for discrimination and oppression.
Yet, are we so different? Current science tells us we share a common ancestry and the differences among people we see are natural variations, results of migration, marriage and adaptation to different environments. How does this fit with the idea of race?
Looking through the eyes of history, science and lived experience, the RACE Project (http://www.understandingrace.org) explains differences among people and reveals the reality – and unreality – of race. The story of race is complex and may challenge how we think about race and human variation, about the differences and similarities among people.
🇮🇹 Il razzismo non riguarda il tuo aspetto, ma il modo in cui le persone assegnano un significato al tuo aspetto.
Razza è l’aspetto meno importante nel determinare il carattere, tuttavia è spesso il fattore più significativo nel modo in cui viene percepito.
Razza è una parola piccola ma potente. La razza condiziona come uno si vede e come viene visto dagli altri. Eppure, molte persone fanno fatica a capire cosa è la razza e cosa non è.
Ci aspettiamo che le persone abbiano un aspetto diverso. E perchè no? Come un’impronta digitale, ogni persona è unica. Ogni persona rappresenta una combinazione dei propri antenati, dei propri genitori, dei nonni e della famiglia, unici nel loro genere. E ogni persona vive la vita in modo diverso rispetto agli altri.
Differenze … sono motivo di gioia e tristezza. Celebriamo le differenze in termini di identità personale, contesto familiare, paese e lingua. Allo stesso tempo, le differenze tra le persone sono state il pretesto per la discriminazione e l’oppressione.
Eppure, siamo così diversi? La scienza attuale ci dice che condividiamo una discendenza comune e le differenze tra le persone che vediamo sono variazioni naturali, risultati di migrazione, matrimonio e adattamento a diversi ambienti. In che modo si adatta all’idea di razza?
Guardando attraverso gli occhi della storia, della scienza e dell’esperienza vissuta, il Progetto RACE (http://www.understandingrace.org)) spiega le differenze tra le persone e rivela la realtà – e l’irrealtà – della razza. La storia della razza è complessa e potrebbe sfidare il modo in cui pensiamo alla razza e alle variazioni umane, alle differenze e alle somiglianze tra le persone
Sembra che a Belfast esista un corso che introduce alla filosofia Jedi, cioè un corso al pensiero aperto e al dominio della forza. E’ un percorso universitario organizzato da tal Allen Baird , dal titolo “Senti la forza: come insegnare la maniera Jedi” . Per la filosofia Jedi, il Lato Chiaro della Forza è sviluppato dalla bontà, benevolenza e salute. Un seguace della luce, un Jedi, cerca di vivere in armonia con il mondo attorno a sé, usando saggezza e logica invece di rabbia e giudizi affrettati. Per raggiungere armonia con il Lato Chiaro della Forza i suoi praticanti spesso meditano per rischiarare la mente dalle emozioni. Le emozioni particolarmente negative come violenza, rabbia e odio, se non vengono respinte e combattute portano verso il Lato Oscuro, che viene seguito dai Sith. Costoro disprezzano i Jedi che considerano dei codardi perché, come afferma sarcasticamente Yuthura Ban “Corruzione è una parola che i patetici usano per descrivere il naturale desiderio di potere che essi stessi negano.” Nella frase del saggio Yoda, “Illuminati noi siamo…con questa materia grezza” come in tante altre simili, echeggiano le teorie di filosofie orientali e di fonti sapienziali di tutto il mondo, da cui Lucas ha ampiamente attinto. Per questo i due avvertimenti di Yoda: “Paura, odio, ansia e vendetta sono tutti sentimenti che portano al Lato Oscuro, Luke.” e “La paura porta alla rabbia, la rabbia porta all’odio, l’odio porta alla sofferenza” vanno pienamente sottoscritte. Che il corso sia un pretesto per approfondire i temi della spiritualità, dei poteri chiari, oscuri e neutrali, del destino e della forza come energia pura… è chiarissimo. Nell’universo Jedi la forza nasce da dentro, grazie a organismi che vivono al loro interno. È un’energia pura. La forza va ascoltata e bisogna stare attenti al lato oscuro. Che il film di Lucas si basi su abile pout-pourri di filosofie orientali, è fuori discussione.
Il Lato Oscuro della Forza si nutre di paura, perché la paura è il peggior nemico dell’uomo, ed è anche il peggior nemico dell’evoluzione spirituale dell’uomo. La nostra cultura incoraggia profondamente il sentimento di paura dandogli la maschera del giudizio e della competizione. Nel primo mettiamo in atto un paragone tra due persone, infatti giudicando non si fa altro che esprimere un giudizio di valore dell’altro, cioè se vale più o meno di noi e il giudizio si erge quando abbiamo paura che l’altro ci oltrepassi in un gara al più meritevole e più bravo. Altro elemento dell’inadeguatezza è la paura di non essere approvati, il timore non riscuotere il consenso degli altri, per creare dipendenza e assoggettamento.
Ma in generale il sentimento di paura è diffuso in tre aspetti che costituiscono dei vissuti universali: la paura di essere abbandonati (paura di separazione), la paura di non essere all’altezza della situazione (paura di non valere) e la paura di essere vinti (paura di non avere la forza e il coraggio di affrontare le emergenze). Anche il giudizio affrettato di condanna con cui siamo soliti liquidare le cose che non comprendiamo, si nutre delle nostre paure dell’ignoto. La paura esiste anche quando non vogliamo vedere le cose per come sono, cioè quando facciamo lo struzzo, infatti sopraggiunge la negazione della loro esistenza e giustezza: non è vero quindi non esiste, quindi non devo averne paura.
L’ironia è proprio nel fatto che si finisce sempre per attrarre proprio l’oggetto delle nostre paure. Questo avviene perché le paure sono fomentate dai nostri pensieri, dalle nostre parole e dai nostri sentimenti. Essi funzionano come una vera e propria calamita per quei contenuti e per quei concetti aldilà del loro essere di polarità positiva o negativa. La polarità dei contenuti del pensiero, è irrilevante rispetto al forte potere magnetico che è posseduto dal pensiero stesso. La forza del pensiero agisce in modalità evocativa per l’esperienza temuta o desiderata, la catalizza, ed essa puntualmente si presenta. Tante filosofie e forme sapienziali avvertono sulla purezza del cuore e del pensiero per il motivo che ho detto. Essere sempre vigili, essere sempre padroni del nostro pensiero, protegge ed esorcizza dall’attualizzazione dei nostri fantasmi mentali, per questo tanta attenzione si dedica alla meditazione giornaliera e al dominio della mente, per affrontare senza rischi il percorso spirituale. Per questo nella nostra mente va custodito solo il pensiero di ciò che vogliamo realizzare e non si devono sprecare energie a pensare a ciò che ci fa paura. Le paure sono frutto delle nostre resistenze interiori, sono frutto delle barriere che la nostra mente costruisce, sono il prodotto della nostra volontà di prendere una direzione, sia essa positiva o negativa. Il pensiero di potere essere felice, la fiducia di potere superare gli ostacoli, la consapevolezza del nostro valore e del nostro essere degni di felicità, spiana la strada alla realizzazione personale e alla tranquillità dell’animo, poiché investe le energie in realizzazioni positive, piuttosto che disperderle in preoccupazioni ed ansie dannose.
L’abitudine a pensare con i vecchi schemi di pensiero ci condanna a rivivere perennemente le stesse storie e gli stessi insuccessi, anche se le persone cambiano perché il copione che impersoniamo viene scleroticamente ripetuto con situazioni simili che scegliamo perché ben conosciute, sia pure dannose ma rassicuranti. Tendiamo a ripetere sempre gli stessi errori, dandone la colpa alla sfortuna o alle circostanze fortuite. In realtà non vi è nulla di fortuito, soprattutto negli incontri, essi sono sempre frutto di quell’enorme magnete che abbiamo costruito con il nostro pensiero e con la nostra convinzione, sia pure negativa o infelice. Ma perché? Secondo alcuni autori spirituali questi incontri servono da enorme specchio, da potente stimolazione, che ci deve aiutare a prendere consapevolezza e guarire dai meccanismi ossessivi e limitatanti che ci soffocano la vita. La nostra realtà interiore emana un certo tipo di energia, che viene captata e recepita da coloro che ne hanno una simile, perciò giunge nella nostra vita solo lo specchio della nostra emanazione. L’arrivo di queste persone o esperienze, serve per farci accettare gli aspetti oscuri o distruttivi di noi stessi, serve per farci compiere un grosso salto evolutivo proprio in virtù del superamento degli schemi sbagliati dell’esistenza. Nel risanare le parti malate di noi possiamo godere di benefici insospettabili e tornare veramente ad una nuova vita.
Tagliare con le parti oscure, richiede un Io compassionevole, non rancoroso e rabbioso, richiede il grosso equilibrio di riuscire a ringraziare coloro che si assumono il karma negativo di farci del male per farci evolvere, come afferma il buddismo, e di benedirli perché dovranno pagare duramente per il male che ci fanno. Questo ci renderà immuni e non vittime della potenza diabolica del male. Questo mi sembra il compito più impegnativo nel dominio del Lato Oscuro della Forza.
La spiritualità è divenuta negli ultimi anni non solo popolare e “di moda”, ma anche un grande affare per alcuni. Il ricercatore spirituale può quindi cadere vittima di illusioni e percorsi fuorvianti.