Counting the Stars – The Impact of Moral Harassment – Sitting with anger and transforming it into insight and wise action

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love” Carl Sagan

“I at least dream of a humanity that will have as its first goal the conquest of knowledge, a united humanity that will travel to the stars” Pavlos Kastanas

“Recently, a draft law was submitted according to which hazing is considered illegal and any act that humiliates or abases the individual in the school and social-educational environment will be punished. If we do not want our human relations to be completely regulated by laws, we must intervene preventively / proactively in children’s contexts” Marie-France Hirigoyen

“Step back from red zone reactions and observe them, like stepping out of a movie and moving twenty rows back in the theater to watch it.” Rick Hanson

This post is a continuation of the previous two, and it also reflects some of the things I have been engaging with in recent weeks. So, in today’s post I will refer to Dr Marie-France Hirigoyen’s book again, Ethical Harassment: Perverse Violence in Everyday Life, a beautiful cultural event that I attended, which concerned astrophysics and music created by Pavlos Kastanas and Yiannis Roussos. I will also give a link to Dr Rick Hanson’s new newsletter on anger and how we can “sit with it” and turn it into wise action and insight. Finally, I will share a slice of a painting I am working on this month.

Α. Ιn a previous post (August the 6th) I made a brief reference to Dr Marie-France Hirigoyen’s book, which covers a range of topics related to psychological violence and manipulation and the red flags that could warn someone about destructive communication dynamics in a variety of contexts. In that post I focused on this type of perverse communication. In this second part today my focus is on some of the severe consequences of this type of relating and communicating. Hirigoyen discusses the various ways moral harassment can impact the person who has been victimized – often over a long period of time. She talks about the consequences during the influence phase and the long term consequences. The different stages of the influence period are: resignation, confusion, doubt, anxiety, fear and isolation. Long term consequences include shock, dysregulation, separation or resignation from work, for instance, depending on whether it is a personal relationship or a work / educational situation, and finally, empowerment and growth. 

Before I carry on I’d like to briefly say that like Hirigoyen I use the term victim to highlight the factual reality of injustice or abuse of some kind having taken place, but I do not imply that the victim identity comprises the totality of a person or that an identity is permanent and fixed and not open to change and expansion. The field of victimology might be important because events can be anticipated and potential victims can become aware of and alert to their own unhelpful attitudes, limiting beliefs, vulnerabilities and gifts, red flags, unsafe situations and potential perpetrators. In the workplace knowledge and awareness helps the individual resist and reduce the possibility of being accused or further undermined. One definition of victimology suggests that it is among other things concerned with the integration of individuals that have experienced victimization. Hirigoyen also notes that ultimately anyone could be victimized. She writes: “According to Rene Girard, in primitive societies rivalries between individuals of the same group created situations of undifferentiated violence that spread through imitation and culminated in the extermination of one person or group of people. The death of the scapegoat caused the heroization of the victim. Nowadays the victims are no longer heroized, but if they are not considered innocent they must definitely be considered weak…. Here, on the contrary, we will see that the victims are usually selected because of a characteristic that they have and that the perpetrator seeks to appropriate….” Even if someone is not “scapegoated” to death, when a member of any group begins to change and become more empowered and more of themselves this threatens the homeostasis of the group / s they belong to, whether familial or societal. When someone decides to not read from the old scripts anymore this calls for change in the roles of those around them, which then leads to pushback with many detrimental short and long term consequences.

In the introduction of the chapter on the impact of moral harassment Hirigoyen writes: “As in a Hitchcock film, but also in Derveny Mamet’s Spanish Prisoner (1997), the plot is always the same: the victim is not aware of being manipulated, and only understands it when the violence is obvious and third parties intervene. The relationship begins with charm and seduction and ends with frightening psychopathological behavior. However, perpetrators leave traces that are interpreted in retrospect, when the victim has somewhat escaped the influence and has realized the manipulation. Hirigoyen writes: “As it has been proven, in the first phase the victim is paralyzed. Extermination comes in the next stage.”

Initially, the exercise of influence causes a) confusion in the victims who often complain that their mind is empty, that they find it difficult to think, that they feel a decrease in their abilities, and a mutilation of every spontaneous part of themselves. Hirigoyen writes that: “In this psychic battle the victim “empties” completely and gives up their identity…”. Confusion causes anxiety and immobilization. In the part describing b) doubt, Hirigoyen writes that “this is an inconceivable process. Victims and potential witnesses cannot believe what is unfolding before their eyes because this kind of violence and analgesia is unthinkable for any normal person and difficult to perceive. There is a tendency to attribute to the perpetrator feelings (guilt, sadness, remorse) which are unknown to him / her. The victim is stunned, does not understand anything and denies the reality… “. It is important to emphasize that the acceptance of the extent of submission by the victim is difficult and causes intense stress.

In the part of the book where reference is made to the c) stress experienced by the victim, Hirigoyen writes: with stress the body reacts, is put on alert, produces hormones, the immune system is taxed and the neurotransmitters of the brain are changed”. We know that when stress is not chronic and the person succeeds to deal with it, the body returns to a certain level of balance. But when a condition is prolonged or repeated at regular intervals, it exceeds our ability to adapt and so the constant changes in the nervous system and the prolonged production of certain hormones in high percentages have chronic effects on the physiology and psychology of the individual. Chronic stress can take many forms and affect a person’s health and life in a multiple ways. In the stage of d) fear the person is in a constant state of alertness as if walking on eggshells. The perpetrator avoids stress, fear or pain by loading / projecting them on the other, and victims have no way to escape until they understand the process and the dynamics. Finally, e) isolation intensifies all of the above. In addition, the victim does not talk to anyone about what is happening, so no help comes. Hirigoyen writes: “This underground extermination cannot be described in words…. Violence is obvious only to the victim. How can those around them imagine what is happening….?

Secondly, the detrimental long-term effects include shock and disbelief as the victim becomes aware of what has happened. Everything seems to be falling apart. Hirigoyen writes: “It is a sense of savage transgression, astonishment, overwhelm, collapse, which the victims describe as a physical assault…”. The person also realizes their pathological perhaps compromise and tolerance that were a fertile ground for the manipulation of others. Hirigoyen reminds us that human abilities are not inexhaustible and the victim will often be led to mental fragmentation and exhaustion, disorientation, dysregulation, health deterioration, post traumatic stress, intense loss weight or court procedures and other tangible losses. Also, during this phase the person might end up in psychiatric care or show suicidal tendencies, especially when they realize the extent and depth of the victimization, that there will not be any restoration and they will probably not find justice. The perpetrator at this stage will often push people to their limits, preferably in a public space.

At this point I will interrupt the narration because the next stages, of separation or leaving the workplace, healing and empowerment are part of the solution, treatment and support, and that is another big conversation and maybe the topic of a future post.

Β. In the previous post I included a quote by astrophysicist Pavlos Kastanas both because it was relevant to the bit about our planet and the universe and our human capacity for destruction, but also, because last week I attended an original cultural event with the title Children of the Stars. It took place out in the open under the trees and a bright lit night sky. Astrophysicist, teacher, speaker, Pavlos Kastanas or Astronio, as he is known, talked about astrophysics, the galaxies, the universe, the Big Bang, and other interesting things, in such a delightful way that could potentially engage even those least keen on science, while his friend musician, Yiannis Roussos, sang songs from the Greek repertoire that referred to planets and galaxies, many of which were poems of well known poets (there has been a long tradition of setting music to poetry in Greece).

Pavlos Kastanas also has a channel on the internet to spread scientific knowledge and news. He believes in the necessity of the democratization of knowledge and is concerned with the fact that we have created an elite of knowledge, which stays in the universities, while the rest of the world who does not understand much or knows what is happening, nonetheless influences the developments on the planet. In one interview he mentions that bridging the gap between scientists and the general public is the main goal of his effort. He says: “Astrophysics has revealed a fascinating universe and has radically changed the way we perceive our place in it. But this knowledge does not reach society and I consider this a huge problem. It is as if there are “humanities of different speeds”. That is, on the one hand, you have people trying to understand what is happening inside a black hole and through what natural processes the universe emerged, and on the other hand, you have people who do not know what the stars they see in the night sky are. This frightens me, it shows that we are divided as a humanity in a very fundamental part of our existence.” (ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ – 4/3/2019).

C. Finally, I will end by sharing a link ( to Dr Rick Hanson’s weekly newsletter, Just One Thing, in which he explores both the importance of feeling and exploring our anger, and also, the negative effects of anger on our physiology, behaviour and relationships. As we know anger can motivate us to act, to set boundaries, to become aware of injustice or abuse, and to alert us to underlying feelings like helplessness, fear and grief, but we need to sit with our anger for a while and pause before we act in order to avoid getting hijacked by our anger or other intense emotions, so that we may act wisely and effectively, both in our private lives and in larger contexts.

As Rick Hanson says: “Anger is a particularly powerful trickster when it plays out inside and between groups. You can see this at all scales, from cliques in high school to office gossip to politics to war. A group will often form around shared grievances, and then defend and proclaim those grievances no matter what the facts are to maintain its cohesion and identity. Whether on the schoolyard in 5th grade or in nations throughout history, authoritarian leaders have exploited our social primate vulnerability to the appeal of grievance in order to acquire and hold on to power, inflating and even inventing grievances while promising to protect the group and avenge it against those who have wronged it. It is no small thing to find your own way inside such a group with such a leader. Or to find a way to relate to those in such groups with moral clarity and strength of heart – without being clouded or infected by anger yourself…… In my meditative tradition, I’ve heard it said that anger is like throwing hot coals with bare hands: both people get burned. In relationships, families, organizations, countries, and the world altogether, there has been so much burning already in our shared human history. Too much burning. Too many minds burned up with anger.”

Internal and external climate                       (Edited)

“Τhere is a human capacity for good-natured cooperation that is simply not encouraged in modern society. That must change.” Carl Sagan

“My great fear is that, out of enormous human stupidity, all this knowledge that we have built up over the years will be destroyed in some way. We have the ability to prevent disasters on our planet, as long as we sow the seeds we need. Wouldn’t it be terrible for this hearth of consciousness that we have, this hearth of life that exists, to go out while it has the ability to survive? This scares me more. As far as climate change is concerned, is it not terrible, for the temporary gain of some countries, to condemn humanity to disaster while we can prevent it? Humans think about the short term and temporary gains, which, of course, in the long run are not gains, but a loss of their very existence. And this is a good answer to those who ask us why we are interested in physics or astronomy.” (From an interview with astrophysicist Pavlos Kastanas or Astronio in Lifo magazine)

“Fulfillment is like the climate rather than the weather. Over time, we can shift our inner climate toward greater wellbeing. Then, when the storms do come, they aren’t as severe” Rick Hanson

Skies of acrid smoke    

Over the last eleven days or more extreme heat has engulfed Greece and temperatures have been breaking record. In some parts of the country the temperature has hit 47C (117F), while the ground temperature in the centre of Athens reached 55C. And then over the last eight days entire tracts of suburban forest around the capital went up in flames. Ash rained down in Athens, and was also, blown further away. By Saturday a huge blaze had burned through forests and houses towards Lake Marathon, which is Athens’ main reservoir, advancing up the slopes of Mount Parnitha, regarded as Athens’ last substantial “green lung”. . One official claimed that “These mountains around Athens are our life support……We’ve taken a huge step back. A vital part of our green infrastructure has gone. With all these trees no longer there, we’ll be faced with new climate conditions and have higher temperatures and likely floods in the metropolitan area of Athens for years to come.” The losses are multilevel. Forests and fields are a home to rich flora and fauna. The fires that have swept across the country and those of other countries around the world do not only burn down trees and houses, creating economic havoc, poverty and post traumatic responses to humans and animals, but also lead to countless innocent domesticated and wild animals to die horrific deaths.

But fires have not been raging around the capital of Greece only, but nationwide. The situation has been evaluated as without precedent in the country, both in the intensity and wide distribution of the wildfires (approximately 586 fire sites within a few days). Fires are still raging around the country as I write this bit today (9/8/2021), despite the effort of firefighters, the help sent to Greece from abroad, and the locals, who have been heroically battling the fires. Titles like “biblical destruction” and “apocalyptic scenes” populate news outlets. Watching the News causes visceral emotions and sensations.  Politicians and experts are now finally talking about climate change suggesting that the exceptionally high temperatures have turned the country into a powder keg. Athens is the hottest capital in mainland Europe and meteorologists predict that annual mean temperatures across the Mediterranean will increase by up to 2C over the next three decades.

Further south in the Peloponnese peninsula, fires have destroyed large parts of several states and threatened ancient Olympia, the site where the Olympic flame is lit every four years. On Evia, the island east of the capital, where fires have also rampaged across rugged woodland, firefighters and residents are still fighting a titanic battle to contain the fire and bring it under control. So far, at least 888,280 acres of land have been reduced to ashes throughout the country, according to data from the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment of the University of Athens. According to the data of the European satellite system “Copernicus” (EFFIS) in Evia, the burned area is estimated at 507,950 acres, while it is anticipated that it could even reach 700,000 acres. This is the biggest disaster of all time in Greece from a single fire. Evia is one of the bigger Greek islands linked to the mainland with a bridge. It is not  very prosperous and the economy is heavily based on agriculture and tourism. Its biggest asset was its natural beauty: forests, farmland and beaches. The video below on YouTube captures part of the devastation that had taken place a few days ago:

PTSD and natural disasters  

Here on the Cycladic island where I reside the sea has provided a cool respite from the heat wave this week. The evening scarlet sun in the sky is surrounded by a smoke like fog. The smoke has been visible in the sky for days and it’s not easy to get away from the reality of what is going on in other parts of the country and the world. I think of what keeps us from responding collectively to the levels of earth destruction that has been taking place for decades. Is it simply that we are apathetic when it comes to issues like climate change? Is it ignorance, disbelief and indifference, or are we also, so overwhelmed by existential fears about the future and a sense of powerlessness that we become immobilized? On a personal level, denial or apathy might sometimes be a skillful psychological response, but collectively we need to allow our grief and fear to motivate and mobilize us.

The more I read and watch things revenant to the fires the more I think of the immediate, but also long term effects on people’s lives: financial and livelihood issues, work prospects, forced dislocation, abandonment of homes and farmland, loss of property, and something that is often not discussed at all – post traumatic responses created by natural disasters. Disasters are traumatic events that can result in a wide range of mental and physical health consequences. Those who experience natural disasters: floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, fires, volcano eruptions, etc, are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress symptomatology. This can manifest itself as recurring flashbacks or nightmares, fearfulness, anxiety, depression, irritability, headaches, nausea or trembling, sleep difficulties or eating issues, chest pain, avoidance, withdrawal, difficulty making decisions, and other health issues, among other symptoms. Research conducted after disasters in the past three decades suggests that the burden of PTSD among people exposed to disasters is substantial. In one paper I looked at it was claimed that research that looked at PTSD survivors between 1980 and 2007 found that those who were the direct victims of disasters were 30% to 40% more likely to have PTSD, compared with the average of 5% to 19% in the general population. There have also been observations of suicide increase after large scale disasters like hurricanes.

Psychosocial stressors associated with the natural disaster are present both immediately after the event, but also as time progresses, intensifying when help isn’t available. While we may initially disassociate ourselves from what is happening and provide heroic efforts, both of which can serve as protective factors, eventually the reality of the destruction and its aftermath do set in and this can create feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and disillusionment. Also, post-disaster PTSD is associated with a range of correlates including socio demographic and background factors, event exposure characteristics, personality traits and social support factors. Various factors can affect how likely it is that an individual would get PTSD, including the degree of physical injury they incurred, the immediate risk it posed to their own life or the life of loved ones, the severity of destruction to their property, whether they experienced loss of family members and whether they were forced to relocate.

The risk of our civilization destroying itself

I also think of how we have as a species, despite our capacity to accomplish unbelievably complex and wonderful things, somehow managed to arrive at this place of indifference, harsh exploitation of and disconnect from planet earth, the home that sustains us all. How did we get so disconnected from the simple truth that we are all part of, and also, heavily dependent on our natural environment?

In relation to our human capacity to cause destruction the scientist Carl Sagan (you can read the whole interview at: says: “Sixth-century Ionia was, to the best of my knowledge, the first time there was a generally accepted view that the universe was subject not to the whims and vagaries of the gods, but to generally applicable laws of nature that human beings were able to understand. There’s a serious danger of our civilization destroying itself. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the first photograph of the whole earth was taken, and you saw it for the first time as a tiny blue ball floating in space. You realized that there were other, similar worlds far away, of different size, different color and constitution. You got the idea that our planet was just one in a multitude. I think there are two apparently contradictory and still very powerful benefits of that cosmic perspectivethe sense of our planet as one in a vast number and the sense of our planet as a place whose destiny depends on us.”

He continues: “Life has had 4 billion years to develop through tortuous trial and error. But unlike biological evolution, which is fundamentally a random process and extremely wasteful in terms of lots of organisms dying, we don’t have that opportunity. If we destroy ourselves, it may be a minor tragedy for life on the planet, but it’s certainly a major tragedy for us. So we have to foresee the mistakes and avoid them. We can’t stumble and then say. “I guess next time stockpiling 15,000 targeted nuclear warheads is not a good thing. I’ve learned from my mistake.” I think there’s a serious danger of our civilization destroying itself, and at least a possibility of our species destroying itself. But the destruction of all life on earth is unlikely, and certainly we can’t destroy the planet. There’s a hierarchy of destructibility.”

Relatedness and connectedness of all universal material

On relatedness he says: “The matter we’re made out of was cooked in the center of stars. We’re made of star stuffthe calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes, the nitrogen in our hair, the silicon in our eyeglasses. Those atoms were all made from simpler atoms in stars hundreds of light-years away and billions of years ago. It’s an astonishing thing, we’re so tied to the rest of the cosmos. Cosmic rays that are produced in the death throes of stars are partly responsible for the mutations that have led to usthe changes in the genetic material. The origin of life was spurred by ultraviolet light from the sun and lightning, which in turn is caused by the heating of the earth by the sun. The connections are intricate and powerful and lovely. For those people seeking a cosmic tie-in, one exists. It’s not the one the astrologers pretend, but it’s much more elegant, and it has the additional virtue of being true…..

People certainly love their families, then distant relations, then friends; then they have some degree of affection for their community, their tribe. One principal level of human identification right now is with the nation-state. Now, the obvious next identification is with all the people on the planet. But why is that the end? I mean, especially if we understand our common heritage, our genetic relationship to animals and plants. Why not a set of absolutely continuous dissolves, one animal to another? Don’t we have some degree of sympathy and respect for all the living things on the planet? They are our cousins. It’s such an obvious idea…….. It’s the time perspective point again. Most of human history was spent in hunter-gatherer communities. And in these kinds of communities todaythere aren’t many of themyou find a degree of cooperativeness, an absence of alienation that is unheard of in modern society. To ignore our social heredity is a serious mistake. There is a human capacity for good-natured cooperation that is simply not encouraged in modern society. That must change.”

Fulfillment is like the climate rather than the weather 

Finally, I’d like to share a new episode of the Wellbeing podcast (, on which Forrest Hanson and his dad, Dr Rick Hanson, discuss fulfillment, which they define as the inner “climate” rather than the “weather”. The basic themes they touch upon are: authentic fulfillment in the self-help space; the tyranny of low expectations, but also the pitfalls of constantly chasing fulfillment; the difference between eudemonic and hedonic wellbeing; the importance of nature, individual variation, and circumstance; the upper reaches of possibility; dealing with “low fulfillment” moments and existential dread, and finding meaning and carrying on.

Communication that alienates and children’s books

“Life-alienating communication both stems from and supports hierarchical or domination societies, where large populations are controlled by a small number of individuals to those individuals, own benefit. It would be in the interest of kings, czars, nobles, and so forth that the masses be educated in a way that renders them slavelike in mentality…… When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.” Marshall B. Rosenberg

“Do what you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are” Nkosi Johnson (a South African boy born with HIV who became an advocate for children with AIDS before he died at about age 12)

Perverse communication – red flags

A. In today’s post I will make a brief reference to Dr Marie-France Hirigoyen’s book, Ethical Harassment: Perverse Violence in Everyday Life, which I mentioned in the previous post. In relatively few pages, the book covers a range of topics related to psychological violence and manipulation and points out all the red flags that could warn someone about the destructive communication dynamics in a personal, peer or other professional relationship. In the workplace or in educational settings, for example, the attack often takes place underground in the context of nonverbal communication with sighs, indifference, destabilizing implicit and malicious comments, slanderous lies, in order to push the targeted person into isolation and to their limits so that they are more likely to react and make mistakes. Concerning the workplace Hirigoyen writes: “In order to exterminate a worker, he /she must be isolated – all alliances are dissolved – so that he /she cannot defend him /herself. “When one is alone, it is difficult to revolt, especially when one believes that everyone is against them.”

Marie-France Hirigoyen opens her book by writing: “In life there are exciting encounters that motivate us to do our best, and others that wear us down and possibly break us. One person can destroy another through the process of ethical/psychological harassment. In fact, at some point, this persistent effort can result in real mental / psychic annihilation.” She discusses the necessity of using the term perverse and what it suggests in this context, and also, clarifies that her discussion will be informed from her expertise as a victimologist. She situates herself on the side of the victimized person from the start. The first part of the book focuses on both our private and professional life, psychological violence within the family and the couple’s relationship, as well as, in the workplace. The second part analyzes perverse ways of relating either in our private lives or in the public space, and describes the victim and the attacker, and the characteristics of this perverse violence and communication. The rest of the book is devoted to the effects of these tactics on the victimized individual both during the influence phase and in the long run, as well as, suggestions and advice on how to get help. In today’s text I will focus on this type of perverse communication. Hirigoyen writes that this kind of “influence uses means that give the illusion of communication – a peculiar communication, which does not bring together, but removes and prevents exchange. With this distorted communication, the perpetrator intends to use the other. To maintain and intensify the confusion, he must manipulate verbally. Hiding the real information is important in order to make the victim weak.”

Firstly, in this type of communication there is a systematic denial of direct communication through the avoidance of direct answers and minimal verbal communication. Refusal to name a situation or problem, refusal to dialogue and explain, avoidance of open conflict and finding a solution together are used to prevent the victim from thinking, understanding, reacting. This ultimately leads to alienation. A second characteristic of this type of communication is the frequent distortion of speech. Speech is contradictory, cold, vague and intimidating. A third characteristic of this communication is the frequent use of lies, especially indirect lies and an intense attachment to details, avoiding the essence of the issues (in order to distract the other), vague hints, tall stories and falsification of the truth. Hirigoyen refers to a 5th century BC treatise with the title: The Art of War by the Chinese Sun Che, who writes: “The art of war is the art of deception. In fact, when someone presents himself as different from what he is, he increases the chances of winning “.

A fourth characteristic is contempt. Hirigoyen writes that contempt is a weapon of the weak and provides temporary protection from unwanted emotions, and is often addressed to women. The person who systematically uses perverse communication implements destabilizing moves in public while trying to find allies in their environment. A fifth feature is the frequent use of paradoxical messages. For example, something is expressed verbally while something else is implied non verbally, which results in many messages not being immediately perceived as aggressive or destructive, because they are confused with others, which are transmitted simultaneously.

The sixth characteristic of perverse communication is the constant reducing the other, making them feel smaller. The attacker takes away talents and strengths from the other and because the attacks are indirect it is difficult for the victim to perceive what is going on. Hirigoyen writes that in general, in order to destabilize the other, one needs in the long run to ridicule one’s political positions, values, ideas and preferences, not to address another person often, to undermine one in public, to deprive one of the opportunity to express oneself, to exploit weaknesses, to undermine abilities and self-confidence, to make the person doubt their abilities, to sew discord in their social environment, to create doubts about one’s thoughts and feelings so that one gradually loses one’s sense of identity. The seventh characteristic of this destructive form of communication is the “divide and rule” tactic. The attacker provokes rivalries and envy and then watches with pleasure the exhaustion of the others, as he feels victorious having achieved his goals. This is a tactic that the attacker uses to impose power, inflict punishment, hurt, exhaust, distract and unload their own intense envy. Also, the attacking person, by projecting their intentions and behaviors onto the other person, shifts guilt (embolism of guilt onto the victim).

Finally, a key feature of this dysfunctional and destructive form of communication is the imposition of power. The process is systematic until the other person is subjugated, enslaved, rendered obedient, silenced, deformed. Hirigoyen clarifies that perverse violence is different from direct abuse of power by tyranny. There the oppression is obvious, while in this case the violence is exercised underground. It is “pure violence“. She refers to Reynaldo Perrone, who calls it “violent punishment” because it is asymmetrical, hidden and without respite.

B. Two children’s books on the daily life and joys of Black children

Every now and then I might treat myself to a children’s book. I recently got two illustrated books that celebrate Black children’s daily lives and joys. A little girl and her Mama walking in the rain. A little boy, his Grandpa and the bright yellow moon. Stories of nurture and our natural environment…. Two short extracts below:

Me and Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera

“Outside a pecker pecks. /The side walk is longer than it is wide. / I love the grass that grows in the in-between. / It’s moss, Mama says. / It’s velvet, I say. / A hole is where a branch was. / Nests are left behind in winter. / Some things don’t let go. But for what? / The stores are boxes filled with people.”

Max and the tag-along moon by Floyd Cooper

“Then slowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow. The clouds faded away and the moon peeked through! Max gazed up at that ball of light and thought about what Grandpa said. “That ol’ moon will always shine for me….on and on!” Max knew then that whenever he saw the moon, he would think of Grandpa, on and on. And he slept soundly embraced in soft yellow light.”