The Silent Epidemic of Silence
Most, if not all epidemic's are silent when they come to minorities. We are killed, hunted down by both law enforcement and citizens of a nation that sees us as visitors despite our years and generations here. By minorities I am not only speaking about Black, and Brown individuals. I am also speaking about the First Nation People, individuals with disabilities, Femmes and non cis-gendered Males, and many others that do not fit the Wealthy White Catholic Able-Bodied Males that are the true beneficiaries to the systems in place to oppress us. Our epidemic's are silent, with a ravenous and biased media washing our stories away and replacing them with those of fear, and entertainment.
But there's an epidemic that we rarely speak about. Silence.
When a community is traumatized, like each and every single one of ours is, it's important to heal our wounds collectively and individually to move on.
This requires many things: support from top to bottom, acknowledgment, empowerment, changing the environment that caused the trauma, and change. All of these are extremely linked, but none can happen without acknowledgment.
Unless we acknowledge our collective pain, addressing that it is in fact real, and we have the right to our pain, we will not heal.
We are denied our trauma, and at times our existence.
I grew up in a country that wouldn't acknowledge the existence of my people or the genocide and atrocities committed against them by a settler state, simply because that state is their ally, and they did the exact same thing. I grew up in a world where my name had to change because when anyone tried pronouncing it they made it sound like a bomb threat. I grew up in a world where I yelled, and screamed, and clawed my way begging anyone to see the Mental Illnesses and trauma in my life, and the collective answer was no. I grew up in a world where I had to fear law enforcement and the citizens those law enforcement could've supposedly protected me from. I grew up in a world that did not want me. I grew up in a world where it didn't matter that we were all dealing with the same oppression, we looked away, hid our scars, and smiled in public to avoid any kind of conflict. I grew up in a world filled with more fear than hope, and a world that was ultimately not created for me.
And when I grew older I was asked to justify my existence everyday. Asked to justify my mental illness, suicidality, need for education, lack of terrorism, the color of my skin, my orientation, my pain, and my trauma. People of color and Femmes are rarely taken seriously, and we are constantly asked for facts and figures about our oppression, abuse and trauma.
But we are conditioned to believe that our suffering is shameful. That when we are raped, bullied, or suffer from anything, we need to hide it. We need to hide it, act like it never happened, and forget about it.
And as communities we shame the survivors and 'pray' for the abusers.
We forgive, and we forget, without ever asking for justice, or supporting the individuals that wake up in the middle of the night with tears streaming down their faces.
And when the survivors try to take charge of their lives, we are ostracized, and abused again and again, and we're told that we are the ones bringing shame and pain to our communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are in pain. If you're not then great, but chances are, more often than not, you are, or at the very least those around you are. We struggle, and we are not being heard. We are not being supported. And for us, all of us to heal, we need you to see, and listen to us.
If that's not enough to convince you then hear this. Today, we do not suffer alone. Sexual assault victims do not suffer alone, black men being murdered by police officers with their hands in the air do not suffer alone. We pray for families, and friends of the victims and survivors, but we all suffer. We have built a network of visibility into each others lives that allows trauma to transcend personal experience. Through computer screens, phones, visuals and writings we all feel the gun shots, the unasked for touches, and everything else. We do not suffer exactly like the victims and the survivors, but each and every single one of us feels the trauma in one way or another, and it has made its way into every area of our societies.
Systems of oppression make acknowledging our collective pain difficult, because once we acknowledge our pain, and begin healing from it we challenge the system, and the system is not infinite. It can end. We can uproot it, and build non-oppressive societies like we've had in the past. Many individuals disagree with the Black Lives Matter movement, but regardless of your thoughts at the very least it has brought a community together, and allowed them to acknowledge the pain and trauma they deal with every single day. Ultimately, validation is revolutionary, and that's what the BLM movement has done.
We still have a long way to go, but acknowledging that we're in pain, and this pain is literally killing us in some situations is the beginning to healing from wounds we collectively carry, and carry on our own.
In the end of the day, we must heal, not recovering is not an option when we seek to eradicate these systems of oppression.