The DSM-5 definition of trauma requires “actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence”. Stressful events not involving an immediate threat to life or physical injury such as psychosocial stressors (e.g., divorce or job loss) are not considered trauma in this definition. For those of us living in this virtual landscape our definitions of trauma are being reconstructed. We continue to experience recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing messages every time another black life is taken by force. It is constantly replayed in the news and the social media. With each view our spirits seem to be wounded once again. The same vehicle that is driving the revolution, making the atrocities real for those who have denied it for so long, and rallying allies to the cause, is also steering the already wounded community into a mental “car crash.”
On September 23rd the grand jury in Louisville Kentucky came back with a decision that highlighted the flaws of our current legal system. Breonna Taylor did not receive justice. Even after more than 100 days of protests and investigations, none of the officers involved in this incident were charged with the killing of this beautiful 26-year-old emergency room technician. She was shot six times in the hallway of her apartment by officers executing a search warrant. Her name has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement. This failure was both egregious and abhorrent.
America has used Black women as a pinnacle for which to rest its “laurels” upon. Never recognizing the strength of her shoulders.
Yet we continue to be disrespected, disenfranchised, villainized and devalued. The system continues to fail us. “The angry black woman” oh how I despise this categorization. Used to label strong assertive black women who remain vocal and unapologetic. Who refuse to step back and be quiet but carve out their niche, take up space and take a seat at a table that had no intention of inviting us. “Oh, she’s angry.” “Oh, she’s bitter.” “Oh, She’s aggressive.”
If you have found yourself saying any of the above about a Black woman you need to CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE! Your privilege has clouded the fact that the Black woman in America is tired!! She has birthed your nation, breastfed your babies and sewn your flag. Fed your children and communities, cleaned your homes and supported your visions while she was constantly overlooked, forgotten, abused and disrespected. What you see as aggression, is really the Black woman asserting her rights as a human being. The institutional, unconscious, and blatant bias that exists in every facet of our lives makes it difficult to ascend “the ladder” and achieve our dreams. What you see is the culmination of repeated traumas, passed down through generations. The form of the trauma may have changed from whips to warrants, but it is painful all the same.
Echoing through the diaspora are the words of Malcolm X in 1962: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” These words are still true. This should upset you. Our rate of complications in pregnancy and birth should upset you! Our marginalization and lack of equal pay in the workplace should upset you! Our pain should upset you! Our Murder Should upset you! OUR TRAUMA SHOULD UPSET YOU!