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Our Pain

Many of us are in pain. Humans. That’s who I am referring to. We may not identify, acknowledge, or even feel it; but it is there waiting for release. We live in a world filled with the glory of pain and death. We somehow manage to romanticize the intentional deconstruction and separation of families from the degrading Trans-Atlantic slave trade to the suffocating patriarchal policies openly enacted against women as head of households. But our pain can no longer be captured, and then reproduced for various forms of entertainment without consequence. I believe we are living out the results of unhealed pain, outright lies, ignorant denial and suffocating fear. I believe we are all impacted and influenced by the inhumane acts of violence perpetrated against those stolen and those deceived during the early occupation of this land.

In my world I cannot separate my belief in racism, systemic oppression, or even our human ability to overcome and transform our experience without acknowledging the truth of where we started. How do we ever hope to heal and grow in a way that produces empathy, compassion and equity for ourselves and our fellow human being if we refuse to openly own the facts. Slavery in the United States of America happened. Racist, sexist, homophobic and economically focused exclusion laws and policies were created, implemented and in many regions are still active. The generational pain and success afforded to groups based on the social construct of race was and remains the most significant source of continued pain for those with marginalized identities. The structural support enacted so many generations ago continues to work its awful power in splintering and fragmenting the efforts of the oppressed to reach a collective experience of equity and safety. The pain and legacy of this requires no explanation here. The facts have existed for generations. It's all in what we choose to believe. Who we choose to believe and who we believe we are.

Many of us are in pain. Humans. That’s who I am referring to. We may not identify, acknowledge, or even feel it; but it is there waiting for release. But I think release from those people, places and things that bring the familiar fear and pain is daunting and frightening. Release from our internal and external oppression, both individual and systemic requires a tolerance for pain and discomfort beyond words that many of us are wired to run away from and all of us are socialized to avoid. The actions we may call out ourselves to take have the potential to change our lives for the better and possibly provide a positive influence in the lives of others; but that doesn’t mean they aren’t scary to walk out in real life.

I am in pain that is being healed and will be healed. As a black, queer woman I understand the origin of my pain and how it can show up in everyday life. If I don’t engage in self-care as a micro-resistant response to the systemic oppression and interpersonal violence, I must commonly navigate I know the personal and professional ramifications for myself and my family. I’ve learned that if I am not caring for myself in ways that are healthy it impacts my sphere of influence. I can trace my reactions in the moment to past trauma, current circumstances or just having a bad day.

I wonder often how much time others spend considering the impact of their own past trauma and daily participation in systems which devalue humans categorized by marginalized identities on their perceptions, beliefs, and actions? I wonder how much space is intentionally created to examine our part in conflict, not our defense but the role we played, the space we held or didn’t hold to hear the other person or group? Most of the time, we are only holding space for our own pain.

I am still learning. I am not an expert in anything except my past. I am learning more about myself all the time. We all move through emotional, spiritual, and intellectual evolution at our own pace and based on our openness. We are all different and that difference can be scary for some, interesting to others and of no importance to many. Our reaction to the perceived and real pain that comes with change is varied and influenced by circumstances both within and beyond our control; but our response to pain can be transformed by the depth of our awareness, our honesty, and our courage.

Many of us are in pain. Humans. That’s who I am referring to. We may not identify, acknowledge, or even feel it; but it is there waiting for release. We can change, we can help others heal and we can transform the space we occupy if we are willing to begin with ourselves. Changing ourselves first from the inside out is the best gift we can bring to ourselves, our families, friends, and those in our communities. We can choose to believe in something better for ourselves and the world around us. We can choose to believe in our inherent good instead of evil. We can choose to believe that racial categories are an inherent lie that we have been made to believe and forced to navigate. We can choose to use our own sphere of influence to nurture and facilitate healing and change. We can choose to believe in the humanity of one another and value that humanity with just laws and policies which center inclusion as the norm not the by product. We can choose to believe in our ability to reach and maintain peace without death or the threat of death or some form of pain as the primary means of accountability.

We each occupy a unique space in this universe. We will act out of exactly who we believe we are. We can choose to be humane, even in our punishment. We can choose to be humane even in our pain. We can choose to be humane in our disagreement. We can choose healthy dialogue or even a time bound silence instead of violent verbal and physical altercations. I know we are different. I know that as humans we are all in different stages of learning but wherever we find ourselves, whomever we are, we can change the space we occupy. We are who we believe we are. Selah.

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