It’s been 137 days of resilience and love. Every day, activists leave their homes to fight for justice not knowing if they’ll make it back, if they’ll be detained, if they’ll be physically harmed, if they’ll be harassed or followed, or worse, if they’ll be killed. Despite the risks, we fight. 137 Days, we fight. We know the price we pay for freedom is nothing in comparison to the rewards reaped for future generations. We won’t settle for the crumbs of justice we’re given for “PR” purposes. Ferguson activists showed up to the table for a full course meal of justice. I am in awe of my community as they consistently display such bravery and sacrifice, but while in admiration, I’m also concerned.
The people of the Ferguson community faced guns and police dogs in response to our mourning. We exhaled tear gas in response to our cries for justice. We were hit with rubber bullets in response to our assembly. In response to a demand for justice, our community has become a warzone. My heart is burdened knowing that the psychological trauma we’ve endured has made us mentally wounded warriors. It has recently become apparent to me that this isn’t a new phenomenon; we walked into battle wounded on August 9th. I’ve spent months reflecting on this system of oppression and it’s intricate design. From childhood, oppressed people are taught that in this society we are worthless and invisible. As children, we received the subliminal messaging in “the black character always dies first” IF there is one. In public education systems, black children often face harsher punishments than their white peers. This application continues to prevail throughout our adult years in the justice system. These discrepancies in the value of our lives in media, and the consequences we face in comparison to our white peers, don’t go unnoticed by us, regardless of our age.
In addition, the colonial history fed to children in public schools; often strip us of our identities. From childhood, we’ve been taught that our only existence is as slaves; being beaten, being raped, being torn away from our families, being nothing more than our bodies. We’ve been taught the only notable black leader is Martin Luther King, Jr. Neither of which is true; however, imagine how this ahistorical context impacts a child. How that child sees his or herself. Imagine that child being developed by the racist micro-aggressions in this society. Now imagine this child growing up as an adult and pushing to contend about the value of their lives. While they would have the capacity to be passionate and resilient, an emotional and mental healing must take place for us to really lose these chains.
This blog isn’t designed to be “bible thumping”, however I am a woman of faith. And as a Christian, I stand on the teaching that my mind must be renewed daily. I believe that applies here in the context of dealing with oppressed people trying to obtain freedom. As activists in this movement, we’ve repeatedly said, “let’s get free y’all”; well my freedom isn’t merely defined by legislation, but my freedom is also being free of all forms of psychological trauma that living in a racist society has caused me as a black woman.
This is why planning a Ferguson self-care event is a priority to me. After having several conversations with my comrades, I realize we need this in order to progress. We need this in order to sustain the movement. Activist burn out is not an option for us. Protestors such as myself, Diamond, Alexis, Ashley, Spann, and many others, know in our hearts, we’re in this movement for the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s get free y’all. Judicially, legislatively, economically, physically, and mentally, let’s get free y’all. This is a call to action for protestors and supporters; let’s prioritize self-care.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”- Audre Lorde
Written and edited by Angel Carter, December 24th. All rights reserved. No reproduction of this work permitted without authorization. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. © 2014 Angel Carter
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