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I embarked on a project to get more sleep during the month of November. I was doing well until the third week, and then it fell apart. I couldn’t turn my mind off. It was humming about nothing and everything at the same time. I couldn’t fall asleep well or stay asleep if I went to bed early. I also had a difficult time focusing on work.

One afternoon, having had enough of this state of affairs, I put out a request for a mini-session and got a response. Unbeknownst to me, I desperately needed to discharge on the Holocaust.

I am not Jewish. I am of Jamaican heritage and a practicing Catholic raised as an evangelical Protestant. Yet everything that frightens me about the U.S. election is directly related to every image I saw and every book I read about the Holocaust as a young person. I also saw television movies about it. There was no lack of material for my sister and me to consume.

While I now put much of my attention on doing research and writing about the impact of the transatlantic slave trade, as a young person I could not have been less interested in it. It scared me too much. However, I was pulled toward everything related to the Holocaust. In hindsight, it is clear that I was trying to work on something. Jamaicans have their own relationship to slavery—Jamaica was a hotbed of resistance [a place of much resistance]. Perhaps that’s why so little was said about it in our household.

My parents were born in Jamaica. They knew little about the Holocaust and had nothing to say to my sister and me as we consumed material about it. (They thought we were simply smart girls who were well educated and that this would reflect well on them.) We saw too much, too early, while too alone.

In the short term, I can sleep much better. However, I have lots more to learn about how the Holocaust impacted me as a Black Protestant girl. It’s a relief to have access to this.

Michelle Thompson

New York, New York, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of African-heritage people

(Present Time 187, April 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00