My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
What sort of community is envisioned by the first-person plural ‘we?’ What do ‘we’ within this community hold in ‘common’ and how is that holding-in-‘common’ socially and politically organized? And what is meant by ‘humanity’ and its corollaries: ‘the human,’ ‘humanism,’ ‘humane?’ The anti-racist invocation of ‘our’ ‘common’ ‘humanity’ is evidence of a belief in – or more likely a longing for – a state of being that is deeper than and anterior to the imposition of race. If ‘we’ are all ‘human’ after all, then surely racism and racist violence are illegitimate; it will not do for one ‘human’ to oppress, exploit, torture, kill another.BACK TO TOP