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Decolonise This VIII: Reawakening Black Power

Dream One (Early 2000):

‘The scene begins with me driving my car to a hotel. I park up in a space near the entrance and go inside. After I have looked around a bit, I look out of the large window to see that I have left my dog, a brown Labrador, tied to the car. As it is a grey day the dog is laying down underneath lest it rains.  A white woman in her 40s with curly hair appears along with two burly white bald men. The woman squats over the car and urinates onto the dog. I am furious and rush outside to rescue the dog, but the two men get in the way, manhandling me roughly. I know they are bigger than me and that I am outnumbered but I fight for my dog as I suddenly wake up.

Dreams are tricky things to negotiate within the psyche.  Although Freud and Jung in their own psychotherapeutic ways saw dreams and dreaming as an act of the unconscious, their approaches varied considerably (Giannoni, 2003; Pavlovic & Pavlovic, 2012).  For this blog though, what is most useful is two things; firstly, using a Jungian perspective on dreams, every aspect of the dream above is an aspect of my own psyche.  From the part of myself which is looking for a room to stay in a hotel, to the abandoned instinctual aspect which sits under the car, to the white woman and the two burly white men, who piss on me(self) and stop me from rescuing (my)self.  Each part of this dream talks of the internalisations of whiteness as presented in the dreamscape, internalisations which prevent me from accessing anything of my own power. 

The second part is that dream whilst often individual, is also a facet of the cultural collective.  There are numerous stories from Africa and the Diaspora, such as from Haiti, of where there would be a person within a tribe, or a village, who would bring a dream to the elders, or those at the centre of the collective.  The dream would then be considered for its meaning to all, and decisions would be made based upon this messaging from the ancestors (Brewster, 2023).

So, whilst I can understandably, and painfully, explore the internalisations of whiteness which sit in the dream above, because this month’s blog is about the distancing from our own individual, collective, and systemic power which Persons of Colour across the Diaspora have experienced for hundreds of years now, I invite the reader to explore their own dreamscape in relation to the dark and disempowered dream presented here.

I invite this as we will all have experienced something of this cultural, or racial, disempowerment. 

Diary Note (Undated)

My father was the kind of man who liked to rule the roost at home.  You could feel his malevolence when he arrived home, normally dead on 5.30pm, his key in the door signalling a total change in myself and my brother.  We knew then that we had to be quiet, to remove ourselves from sight lest we be singled out for criticism (at best), or a beating (at worst).  All dependent upon the kind of day our black father had endured in the white world.

We have all endured the trauma of disempowerment as black peopled.  We have all seen or experienced so many things, from being silenced, marginalised, or having had untrue stories told about us which have led to our incarceration or death.  We have been undermined in education, in employment, in our achievements, meaning we have often had to work twice as hard to get half as far in life’s multiple journeys.  We have been tokenised, exotified, vilified, with each meaning that we are given only a modicum of power whilst having to perform for our racialised the racial gatekeepers. 

Through all of this though, the Power of Blackness still exists, as it did not die away.  You can’t hide something which is natural, which is an innate aspect of the human experience.  What can happen to it is that it can be misused.  Our divorce from the power of blackness often meant we use(d) it against ourselves, or each other.  The abuses of self, through drink or drugs could be seen as one avenue, that blunting and blurring away from consciousness the pain of feeling powerless.  As could the abuses and attacks upon others around us, from how black patriarchs would hurt their spouses to how black parents would beat their children, with a shoe, with a belt, with a switch.  The (disem)power(ment) of blackness did not mean that it was not expressed.  It meant that is was (mis)expressed in distortion.  The pain was passed inwards or downwards onto others. 

The other means of said expression though was through the arts.  The notion was hidden in black artistry, in its music, in its performance, and in its secretive rebelliousness.  Capoiera (Kingsford-Smith, 2014) the Afro-Brazilian martial art, which was originally banned during Portuguese slavery out of a fear that this would encourage slaves to rebel, was kept alive by becoming a dance, an artistic performance, which enamoured and enraptured the slave owners in its beauty and elegance, whilst masking its fierceness.  Then another example is emergent out of the music of the blues, of Jazz, and of early Country and Western Music, which all had their roots embedded within the voices of black slaves in the Deep South of America (Peters, 2018).

Diary Note (Undated):

My father made it his duty as the colonised gatekeeper and unconscious coloniser to ensure that none of his children bettered him in life.  He did what he had been taught and (mis)used his power to ensure that we knew our place.  And if we ever spoke back, rebelled, or became threatening after any fashion, there would be the abuses, the physical and emotional, to force us or shame us back into that shape of compliance.

The cost of this disempowerment is that we, as black peoples, struggle to recognise, rediscover, or even own our own power.  From discovering that power to self-identify what it is to be black (whilst resisting the super-egoic power of the white gaze), to rediscovering our voices to so we can tell our own stories (whilst fighting against the stereotyping which silenced us first of all, the labelling of the angry black woman, or the othering of us as the frightening and aggressive black man), to the inner investigations of what power actually is for us (beyond the stereotypical media driven narratives which see our power as being part of a gang culture which needs a forceful police response to keep us in line).  Yet, Power, my power or our power, is by its very nature though is something which we all have access to.  It is phenomenological.  It is like the centre circle on a football pitch, taking central stage whilst two all black teams of sports men and women of colour stand around it taking the knee because Black Lives Matter.  Power is something which we all therefore have to explore in order to work out what it means for us, individually and collectively. 

For myself, rediscovering my power has therefore come in many forms.  From working out who I want to be, to how I want to dress, to how I want to express myself, literally, emotionally, sexually.  Power comes in concert with decolonisation.  It is, and this is the meaning of this wonderful final dream below, a facet of the stolen psychological ground which when emancipated becomes like the undiscovered country of ancestral lore.  It is politically correct in its original sense, just as it is woke.  It is all I have been, am now, and wish to be.  It is my intersectional body made real. 

Dream Two (March 2024)

Scene where I am locked in my parent’s kitchen in the basement of their home.  I am trying to escape a plague of very pale zombies who have become infected by something (I don’t know what).  They are outside and have cut off the electricity, so all the lights go out.

I think we are totally trapped, but there is a massive explosion and the kitchen is sent flying high into the air, rising until it goes into orbit around the planet Earth. I realise now that I am safe from the zombies and that as they have nothing to feed upon they will die. 


Brewster, F. (2023). Race and the Unconscious: An Africanist Depth Psychology Perspective on Dreaming. Routledge.

Giannoni, M. (2003). Jung’s theory of dream and the relational debate. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(4), 605–621.

Kingsford-Smith, A. (2014). Disguised in Dance: The Secret History of Capoeira. Brazil : The Best of Its Art and Culture.

Pavlovic, R. Y., & Pavlovic, A. M. (2012).  Dostoevsky and psychoanalysis: The Eternal Husband (1870) by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881) . British Journal of Psychiatry, 200(3), 181–181.

Peters, C. (2018). Black Music in Europe: A Hidden History. BBC Sounds.