The University Record, January 25, 1993

Blacks need to deal with ‘race pain’

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

The civil rights movement of the 1990s must shift its focus to one of quiet reflection and emotional healing, says author Bebe Moore Campbell.

“We must love ourselves back to emotional health first and economic well-being will follow,” Campbell told an audience of about 500 who attended her Martin Luther King Day opening address in the Power Center for the Performing Arts. Her address was titled, “The Future of the African American Family.”

Campbell blamed “race pain” for the destruction of the African American family, which she compared to the riots that devastated Los Angeles following the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King.

“Race pain is part and parcel of being Black on this planet,” Campbell said. “Race pain impedes the ability of brothers and sisters to love each other and it is destroying our children. We are angry with the world, but we turn our race pain on each other.”

Campbell maintained that Blacks must confront the emotional anguish, unfocused anger and feelings of inferiority that are the legacy of slavery in America. She called for Black men and women, in particular, to stop “raging at one another on talk shows” and stop acting out their anger and pain within the family.

“We must begin a campaign for self-love and emotional healing as if our lives depended upon it,” Campbell said. The first step is talking about the pain in support groups, which she maintained are especially important for Black men who often hold pain inside until it explodes in violence.

“We must tell each other the stories that make us scream and talk about the pain that imprisons us before we will be able to break out of our emotional second-class citizenship,” Campbell said.

“The future of African American families lies in self-love and self-healing, not in government loans and enterprise zones,” according to Campbell. “It’s time to stop asking America to love us, and to begin loving each other.”

The author of Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, and Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad, Campbell also writes for Essence, Savvy, The Washington Post and The New York Times.