"Racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism have no power over you unless you believe they do" says your favorite apolitical self-help guru.
Whatever negativity is in your life is there because of an energetic invitation." Can we dead these narratives for forever? The idea is that all harm and trauma that enters your life is there because of something you did, said, or thought to attract it.
While I truly believe that there is validity to the law of attraction, the essentialism of popular self-help narratives is short sighted and unproductive when systems that deprive Black folk, Brown folk, poor folk, queer folk, femme folk of liberties and human rights are not taken into consideration whatsoever.
So many of us who are vulnerable to state repression(s), and suffer from the often accompanied trauma, are not afforded the mental solace of believing that if we just think positive nothing negative will happen. What I look like telling a sexual abuse survivor that she attracted that negativity into her life?.. because it had nothing to do with rabid rape culture and a global systemic devaluing of women’s minds and bodies. Ok.
When we discuss concepts like “agency” and “accountability for our lives” without structural analysis, we erase the very real and particular vulnerabilities those of us on the political margins face. Yes, personal power IS real. And we must reconceptualize power – It’s important that we move away from the thinking that insists that power is forever and always this thing that exists outside of ourselves. But we can’t fully understand the capacity of internal power unless we acknowledge institutional power and the structures that govern so much of our daily lives.
Understanding our personal power does not mean that we proclaim that we aren’t subject to victimization – This type of thinking leaves repressive systems unchecked and unchallenged. Understanding our personal and collective power means that we have the ability to make decisions about how we will prevent and/or navigate trauma, and how we can imagine a new world, as opposed to just critiquing the one we got.
Self help narratives void of structural analysis are ahistorical liberal amnesia at best and unproductive erasure at worst. Iyanla offers us some lessons that are useful; this one is not. And while I don't believe in tossing away whole Black people as "problematic", I do believe in tossing away dangerous narratives. To the trash bin it goes. *Crumbles paper* "Jordan!