I Am Because We Are

This has been a considerably difficult blog to write. I have been mulling over the issues and ideas I will share here for at least a couple of weeks. I've been meditating on them for even longer. The quintessential gaining and maintaining of spiritual, physical and mental wellness weigh heavily on me personally and seems to weigh on Black Folxs collectively. It has occurred to me in my reflections that Black Folxs are subsisting off resilience. The reasons for this are numerous and complex. I will not examine all of them but rather just focus on the particularly devastating aspect of trauma caused by abuse and how it poisons our perceptions and by extension our relationship to one another. More importantly I seek to offer a pathway towards effectively confronting and overcoming this impediment to our progress.

I have always been quiet and observant. A characteristic trait that I considered a weakness when I was younger. I now value this capability as a strength and use it as it was intended; to gain valuable knowledge. My observations as of late have revealed to me a deeper understanding of internalized anti-Blackness. To my dismay I have come to realize that it is prevalent amongst those who consider themselves astute or cunning enough not to fall into this abyss. Even though our intersections as Black Folxs are beautiful and have strengthened our connectedness I find that they can also harbor toxic strains of anti-Blackness. We become locked in these battles fueled by trauma and its potent byproduct; rage. Many of us have been harmed and abused by those closest to us and it shows. The generational patterns of abuse and trauma are rampant. We often avoid acknowledging this fact and consequentially fail to seek the vital healing that must take place in order to keep the abuse from being passed on and down again and again. What I have observed is that when traumatized people are stressed or challenged, they often lash out at those that resemble in some way the perpetrators of the abuse they experienced. The traumatized victim of abuse will strike out at those in the closest proximity to them, their people or their loved ones. They are unreasonable at the point that they have been triggered and the behavior is often erratic and irrational. They feel justified in inflicting harm on those they believe have harmed them. It is a vicious cycle where everyone involved or anyone who has been forced to bear witness to this senseless conflict is left bloodied. It is tragic but true that in some instances the abused becomes the abuser. In the Black community this tragedy is played out way too often. It is frequently at the heart of the intercommunity violence that white supremacy uses to vilify and criminalize all of us. Our internalized anti-Blackness is an intentional and essential component of white supremacy and its foundational principle of oppression. We have been conditioned to hate ourselves and distrust one another so much so that instead of it being imposed upon us we now willingly inflict the wounds on ourselves, and often unconsciously on one another. *

How do we break these last binds of enslavement? Firstly, Black Folxs can and must love each other unconditionally. Throw off the shackles of fear and doubt that compel you to emulate the brutality of white supremacy. Believe in your people! We are capable of taking care of one another. We are brilliant. We have what we need. Secondly, be intentional about supporting each other. When we show respect and lift one another it cultivates trust. With this trust we build lasting and meaningful relationships. These relationships strengthen us. We are now ready to not just simply survive but to thrive. Thirdly, stay dedicated to and seek inspiration from each other as we all strive to be better and to do better by one another. There will be moments of divisiveness and despair but let those moments pass. The movement for our liberation is stronger than that, we are stronger than any type of adversity. As an abolitionist and a warrior for the liberation of my people I live my life based on these beliefs and treat my people accordingly.

If you are ready to rediscover our sacred obligations to one another join us. We are designing the blueprints for lasting and meaningful change right now. Black Lives Matter Sacramento has constructed Abolish and Rebuild as a pathway to freedom. This strong tree is rooted in abolitionist, revolutionary thought and has five branches; they are Education, Disability Justice, Cop Watch, Family Support and Community De-escalation. We, meaning all of us Black Folxs in the chapter and our community meet together to develop and put in place the structures we need that will benefit us. One of the most important branches I believe we need to strengthen and develop is community de-escalation. Given my analysis I provided already, our ability to recognize trauma and how it alters behavior is critical to how we engage one another. As we become proficient in this critical skill, we will be better able to potentially circumvent the cycle of abuse and halt some of what manifest intercommunity violence.

 I will provide my own experiences as an educator in utilizing both trauma informed techniques and de-escalation strategies. Being confronted with someone who's ability to reason has been hijacked by fear, rage, grief or a combination of all these powerful emotions is always challenging and can seem overwhelming. In some instances, I have felt like I might lose control and lash out in anger but the most important and empowering thing about utilizing de-escalation strategies is that it requires you to stop and think. Instead of being defensive and confrontational you seek to address the issue at the moment. You can recognize that you are not the source of what has triggered the individual your engaged with. You are ready to seek understanding and will ask questions for clarity. You can be reasonable and open in your tone of voice and body language. If necessary you understand and are willing to disengage from the erratic actions and offensive language that's fueling the other person's behavior. **

Yes, this may seem like too much of a burden and you may interpret what I have shared as lofty or even inconceivable. I argue that we are worth the effort. Acquiring knowledge and then using that knowledge to benefit each other has always been our way as a people it has been the bases for our resiliency. Being courageous and humble enough to confront trauma and its devastating impacts on our community is empowering. Our wellbeing is linked always has been and thankfully will continue to be.


Sources read and interpreted:

* "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome" by Dr. Joy DeGruy

** Articles and training manuals provided by the Crisis Prevention Institute


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