Last summer, I had a conversation with one of my mentors who happens to be a Reverend and therapist about the importance of an intergenerational perspective. I was reminded of this conversation as I read, Sisters of the Yam by bell hooks.
Many of our foremothers and forefathers have witnessed unspeakable offenses. As a result, they literally could not speak on it. However, it did not mean that the pain was not experienced and that it was not passed down. In order to survive, they had to repress their feelings. In other words, it was unsafe to feel so they did what they had to do. They knew that emotional expression was needed, but they did not have the freedom to do so. Enslavement, Jim Crow and White Supremacy then and now negatively impact Black people’s capacity to feel.
For millennials, going to therapy is acceptable, even though there is still a lot of skepticism around mental health. As more people go to therapy, more people learn about themselves and their families, why they do the things they do and why they feel the way they feel. At times, this learning generates blame and anger, which are expected parts of the process. However, when we find ourselves criticizing and judging generations before us, perspective taking can help us move a little more easily through this space.
In the present moment, there is a demand that we feel all of our emotions. While some are enthusiastic and excited, others acknowledge that this can be difficult. Many of us learned that we should not feel. There is a huge unlearning process that millennials are going through. In this space of resistance, let us not forget what it took to get here.
The more we understand our elders, the more compassion we have for them and ourselves.
They endured so that we don’t have to.
Be gentle with our elders.