As I was out thrift shopping the other day, I came across a book titled “Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom: Creating physician and emotional health and healing” by Dr. C. Northrup. I have just been perusing the titles of the chapters and introduction since I have not had the time to read the entire 1000 page book. One theme that keeps emerging in this book is the coalescing of inner and external modes of health and healing. In a Buberian sense, Dr. Northrup emphasizes the immediate presence that combines past and future modes of living. There appears to be a temporal and spatial mending of embodiment that is lived in the moment that suspends some meanings from the past and future. However, the readings for this week remind us how significant the past is to understanding the meanings that will come to pave the future course of resistance.
Douglas discussed how embodiment, understood in relation to Black faith, is both the creation of good and embodied through our humanity. Douglas continues to explain that authenticity arises from our interdependent connections with one another and in relation to divinity. Authenticity is understood as the divine connection between beings and God. However, this authenticity is hindered due to White cultural exploitations of Black sexuality. Douglas explains that this creates a disconnect that alienates the body to achieving authentic embodiment. This article reminded me of Du Bois double consciousness, the idea that white stereotypes are inscribed upon black life even though through reflection different meanings emerge. However, Anzaldua takes this idea one step further in her exploration of mestiza consciousness.
I believe, like Anzaldua, the scars from our past may heal but we always carry them with us. Her idea of mestiza consciousness breaks apart binaries and reintroduces a polysemic understanding of identity. Each meaning carries a piece of the past that comes to inform us of who we are in the present and for the future. For Hogan, she was reclaiming the mythical past by recontextualizing the historical moments that connect us all together. For Al-Shaykh, she questioned how much the past is shaped by the culture relative to your experience and environment. This starts to become a question about identity-politics. As a white, middle class female, I have not experienced racial disparity. All I can do is listen in order to understanding differences we embody as best I can in order for as Douglas argues authenticity to transpire. By listen, I mean listening otherwise in the way that Levinas explores listening which involves: compassion, sympathy, and understanding.
The unwillingness to listen appears to be a problem in today’s society. When I teach, I use an entire day on what it means to listen otherwise. Some of my students are intrigued by this idea so I will send them additional studies. However, I still am not sure how or what we can do to promote active listening in today’s society. I do firmly believe that this might be one of the first steps towards answering Hogan’s plea that “We are in need of an integrity of being that recognizes this disregarded inner world” (1994, p. 168).