Calling myself out

A very smart and cool friend of mine posted a link to a powerful blog post recently.  To sum it up briefly, the article explains that many people of color no longer feel empathy when reading about bad things happening to white people because violence against people of color is constantly ignored.  The author said the fact that white people often ignore violence and/or oppression against people of color is becoming increasingly obvious due to technology and the large quantity of postings by white people on outlets like Facebook about violence endured by white people but few to none about violence endured by people of color.

As I read this post, I found myself agreeing with so much of what the author said but also tensing up and feeling… what?  Defensive?

Yes, I felt defensive.  I’m embarrassed to admit it now.  But that’s how I felt.  As the author discussed how enraging it is that so many children in Afghanistan and Iraq are killed, I thought, ‘Absolutely!’  But when she mentioned Trayvon Martin, I thought, ‘That’s not fair… a lot of people cared about that, his murder was big news.’

But then I reflected on how infrequently similar stories make it to national news.  I also thought about whether or not I’d ever posted anything on Facebook about Trayvon Martin and I regret to say that I never did.  As much as I talked about it with friends and colleagues, I never once took the time to broadcast articles and posts about him to my broadest social network.  And how often do I post articles that are specifically about violence against non-white women and children?  Not very often…

And that concerns me.  It would have always concerned me for many reasons, but these days, it concerns me even more and because of this reason:

Over the years, I have come to understand that negative experiences are often traumatic.  And to me, it seems that being subjected to institutionalized racism is traumatizing.  I once heard that just as there are institutionalized oppressions, there is also institutionalized trauma.  And if I remember correctly, institutionalized trauma refers to the ways in which trauma survivors are re-traumatized at the institutional level and/or by systems.  Systems and institutions do this in so many ways but I think the most common ways are to deny the trauma or blame the victim.  And unfortunately I think institutionalized trauma and institutionalized oppressions often go hand in hand.  People are traumatized via institutionalized oppressions and then re-traumatized by institutionalized trauma when the systems dominated by the oppressor then deny or minimize this oppression.

I don’t want to deny or minimize the experiences of people of color by acting defensive or not prioritizing their well-being.  Doing this likely only leads to further oppression and trauma.  And that is not okay.

So I want to make more of an effort to prioritize and discuss violence and injustice against people of color.  And this blog is certainly a means for that and it can certainly be used to hold me accountable to this.

Hopefully, I’ll be back soon to start on this – though I am gonna be pretty busy the next couple of weeks so no promises there will be many posts in the immediate future.  But soon enough!!


oppression (Photo credit: McBeth)

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