Fort Collins Constellation April 6, 2018
2 shorter constellations to first look back and then to see how that might be reflected into our current situation.
Working with this question for the first.
First Constellation: What is underlying the fear in so many Americans (of the other, the outside, the different)? How might we understand more by looking into earlier times?
Some Themes/Patterns being observed (constellation detail farther below)
With the presence of white people, coming onto the land and into the middle (a very prominent positioning), the one representing Native Americans felt some anger, suspicion, and like she was being pushed out. Before the whites came, she had felt a lot of space. While she felt threatened by white people, she also heard their humanness in needing help in this new place. So it seems some openness and a mix of feelings.
This underlying fear in America’s white people todaycould be a similar fear the Native Americans had of new and different people(immigrants), and feeling threatened that they could push us out (take over). And eventually the whites did push out, kill, and take the land of the native peoples, almost virtually annihilating them). Are American whites now afraid new immigrants might do that to them? Take their jobs, change the language, become a more powerful force? And possibly on a deeper level is there shame beneath this fear, of the wrongs to others never acknowledge or reconciled? There is also confliction in the society (like for the Native American in the constellation), seeing immigrants’ humanness (maybe even vulnerability) and needing help in a new place. Currently, the fear of outsiders who don’t belong seems the dominant societal force. The wanting to help, or protect the vulnerable, has not yet risen to be a priority, but is there. How might we shift this fear and shame?
2. The role of Christianity- The Native American was not sure about Christianity (blind representation in the constellation, so an unknown); it could be a threat or she could be drawn to it. She was uncertain. Christianity felt aligned with white European settlers and wanted to be close to them. I notice that Christianity was the religion whites brought with them, many having left Europe for religious freedom so Christianity was a strong focus of many early colonists, their settlements, and leaders. As history would show, Christianity did not seem to look kindly on Native Americans or Africans as it was OK to use them or even kill them to take control of the land or use them as slave labor (Doctrine of Destiny). In the constellation Christianity did not want to look at Native Americans or African slaves. So there seemed to be a fear or suspicion of anyone not a white European. This fear of others who are different(Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and other immigrants – anyone looking or worshiping differently) is still a fear by many Christians and white people in the US. What underlies this fear?
3. African Slaves were totally out of their element, fearful, threatened by everything, and wanting to stay invisible and as far away from the others as possible. Not knowing how to work this land, or even why they were here. This is a very difficult place to be emotionally and most likely this has impacted them into present day. It does not seem, however, that they have the same fears as white people - of immigrants or people who are different – at least not as evident – likely still trying to survive and be equal themselves. African Americans still have fear of white people, and through time have learned to stay out of the way.
2ndConstellation – What is underlying the fears today - fear especially in American white conservatives of the other, the immigrant, the African and Native Americans?
Some themes/patterns revealed. (constellation detail further below)
Status – White status, even privilege – fear of losing status or having it threatened. The White Trump Conservative did not want her view of Status (a painting on the wall) blocked. The African Americanand Obama (Blind) were standing together in front of her, almost in the way. She could still look between them to her status, and not have to look directly at them (they were it seemed, a threat to her status).
The Undocumented Mexican worker was off to the side near the Mexican border. Per the White Conservative it was fine for her to do work for her. It was hard to get good help, but not OK to work for others. There is obviously a need for workers, or so many would not find work. And yet she needed to stay out, as her being there was against the law. I wonder what is at work, that it is OK for the undocumented to work for some of us? There is some kind of “looking the other way” when it is convenient. And having cheap labor (kind of like slave labor) helps whites keep status and privilege.
The African American felt equal to the White Conservative, (another threat) and the latter didn’t like hearing that and thought the African American needed to know her place. The African American seemed to feel bad for the Undocumented Mexican and wanted her to come closer and be included. The Undocumented was not ready for that. It would be too unsafe. (so much distrustandfear) She wanted to stay closer to her people and her homeland. It did not seem she wanted to be included. She needed to work and send money back (which the white conservative said was wrong, “that belongs here”).
Distrust/Trust – From the constellation Trust is unfamiliar in the system as a whole but holds some attraction, like it is needed or missing (Trust was a blind representation)
The White Trump Conservativerelaxed slightly, took her focus off of her status/class, when Trust came in. The Undocumented Mexican seemed to be the least trustful of everything, unaffected by Trust. As we see what is unfolding today around ICE and immigration control and deportation, that is likely very much so. Wanting to stay safe with her own people.
A lot of dynamics in play– in these constellations very much seem to reflect reality here in the USA today. As we more deeply understand these underlying fears, (and hidden dynamics) how might they be shifted in the larger system? Is the strongest access point to acknowledge the white conservative and their fear, grief, loss, maybe shame, and the need to be recognized (status) – in some way that allows them to truly belong? Might they then, through opening their hearts to others, let go of controlling power simply to maintain their own sense of status (whether real or not)?