Rhetorical Wheelies
Friday Ephemera

We’re Here To Care About You

As a Boston high school sophomore, Keondre McClay said he was pressured by the head of a district-sponsored youth advocacy programme to attend an overnight retreat in Newton, where white adults asked the black teenager to wrestle out his emotions on a gym mat with them. They said it would help him purge his trauma from experiencing racism.

Um. A little odd. But hey, we mustn’t judge. After all, these are progressive, caring people, tumescent with compassion for the brown-and-therefore-downtrodden

McClay fled to his room. Jenny Sazama, the programme leader, and other retreat participants chased after him. For more than an hour, he recalled recently, they hugged him on his bed and entreated him to return to the group “counselling” session while he hid under the covers screaming, “Please leave me alone!”

As you can see, they care an awful lot. 

When they eventually left, he locked the door, but someone got the facilities manager to unlock it. McClay called someone to help him get home at midnight. “I was, for lack of a better word, assaulted,” said McClay, now 21.

Boston Public Schools saw fit to endorse this programme of “Re-Evaluation Counselling” for fifteen years. And the counsellors declare that they are “dedicated to eliminating racism in the world,” thereby enabling “deep relationships across racial lines.” Hence, one assumes, all the chasing and screaming.

Students described the sessions as “weird, uncomfortable, and cult-like.”

But because things aren’t quite weird enough:

“Re-Evaluation Counselling”  has crept into progressive circles [in Boston] and around the country. Its founder briefly collaborated with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, and its core philosophy, which bears some similarities to Hubbard’s Dianetics, prescribes regularly relating painful memories to a peer counsellor or group and releasing strong feelings by crying, shaking, or screaming as the best salve for psychological wounds.

Because, you see, being pressured to declare yourself oppressed and racially traumatised, truthfully or not, while being chased into your bedroom and invited to wrestle, is an obvious path to both mental health and “social change.”  

Via Damian Counsell