Electric Dreams

Reply to Anthony Shafton's
"Why So Few Blacks in the Dream Movement?"

Strephon Kaplan-Williams

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Kaplan-Williams, Strephon (2005 March). Reply to Anthony Shafton's
"Why So Few Blacks in the Dream Movement?" 12(3).

To comment on the above article, Why So Few Blacks in the Dream Movement? I would have to suggest that the title itself is misleading.

First, Shafton assumes I think that the dream movement is centered around ASD, and around whites, but even this is fallacious thinking.

In terms of individuals interested in dreams and dreamwork I don't see that the broad categories, black and white, apply. Among those of African origin I have known as a Berkeley, California dreamworker in the sixties, seventies and eighties, conducting as many as seven dream groups a week, I never found that being of African origin made a difference, or united all of African origin in any way. Nor did I find that among the whites I worked with that there was anything universal in being of lighter skin color.

So, trying to put millions of people into the general categories of black and white, and drawing conclusions, such as in this article, does not work for me in my experience or in my ability to think through issues. Let me illustrate.

I have had people of African genetic origin in my dream groups. But also of Spanish genetic origin, Mexican genetic origin, Jewish genetic origin, Catholic, Chiristian, non-religious, wealthy, poor and so on. I have had women in my dream groups, and men. I have had homosexuals and lesbians and non-sexuals in my dream groups. I have had students and professionals and family people, mothers, housewives and so on.

Am I then to ask why there are not more mothers in my dream groups, or homosexuals, and so on? Each of these sub-groups are minorities when placed in opposition to the rest of the members called dream group members.

Categorizing blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles and so on, I consider a form of prejudice. For the categories do not hold and therefore are based on labeling others, a subjective way of viewing people.

So if I viewed by numbers blacks and whites in my dream groups then I would see far fewer blacks in the groups. But the same would happen if I saw the two categories as homosexuals versus non-homosexuals. Why are there not more homosexuals in the dreamwork movement than there are? What a wonderful speculation. Not really.

My fundamental position has always been to see people as persons. I of course looked for cultural differences but I did not find any of these influences as clearly definable or crucial.

I have had whites who have had murdered family members and blacks who have had murdered family members. Many have not had murdered family members. A number of dream group members have been raped, as well as suffered other types of violence. All have wanted and needed help in how to problem-solve life issues.

Using the method, Following the Dream Ego, it is fairly easy to see that in many people's dreams they are not effective as problem solvers so this is one area we focus on. If your racial or cultural influence is important to you in terms of self-identity, then we deal with this as it shows up in dreams.

In this objective and functional approach we use the dream as the primary focus. We problem-solve. We look at the conflicts and inadequacies in the dreams and work at new ways and solutions for handling these problems which apply to dream life and to waking life.

We don't worry about cultural or racial issues. We deal with the problem.

I would be far more concerned about the different approaches to doing dreamwork with the dream. I have just stated that one strong emphasis in doing the functional approach to dreamwork is teaching problem-solving. What then are other dreamworkers teaching in relating to dreams? I don't know, frankly, and would like to.

Sticking to our focus on dreams seems the best. Why create problems impossible to solve?

Strephon Kaplan-Williams

Strephon Kaplan-Williams had his Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Institute in Berkeley, California from 1977 to 1988. This area was a multi-cultural environment. The experiences of his students have been written up by him in the Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual and in the later Dreamworking - A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Dreams.