There are days when you wonder if your work and worth will ever be enough to make a difference, make a dent. There are days when you see that you are a part of a process, a community, a movement that changes lives, one day at a time and it’s inspiring and wonderful to contributing. There are days, when you wonder if the layers of pain, and each time we unravel a layer, how much more will it take to be ‘recovered’ or ‘healed’.
Today is a day, where at the end of Day 1 workshop by magical performer, healer, activist and storyteller, D’bi Young Anita Africa, on self-love and healing methodologies for members of the Tambourine Army, WE-Change and other human rights advocates; I am feeling pensive on the road ahead. At the end day 1, one of the things that came up was how we internalised traumatic experiences from slavery until now and back then, took no time to process and heal because there was none, time was not our own, because we were not being treated as human anyway, survival was paramount, even if we knew our humanity; we had to survive in an environment that denied our humanity every single day. We acknowledged that that behavior came from the plantation and wrested with how we can break this cycle in this century. And then the young girl that died because she refused sexual advances been swirling around in my head. Reaction and expression of outrage cannot be enough.
The journey looks long. I wonder how our enslaved and indentured ancestors kept the hope of freedom alive for over 300 hundred years? I wonder what Marcus Garvey thought to keep going anti-colonial in the midst of other black people telling him that he must behave?
There are days. And there are days. And these days, it is hard to figure out the direction, when who is Babylon is not so clear because Babylon is we, like my friend, David Pilgrim’s song – Could be, could it be, could it be, that we are Babylon?
There are days when there is hope. And there are days, when it feels hopeless. Today is not a hopeless day, but it is day of throwing hands in the air, wondering – wa fi do? There are days when we see straight through the trauma of an incident, like the murder of the young girl who died fighting for her right to live free from violence; fighting for a life without sexual violence. Or the girls who got shot by gunmen, one dead, the other in hospital. What must it be inside a body that is so broken and disconnected from himself that he can traumatise another? What layers of pain has he inherited that he feels so disconnected from the young girl that he can kill her so brutally? Why couldn’t he see her
humanity? What absence of love that fills him empty where he can act so unlovingly towards another human being? What did he go through to have no love? What is he feeling then?
What layers of self-hatred does he have that he cannot see himself beyond his organ as a weapon of punishment or a tool of torture? If he saw himself and his potential, maybe he would have seen her too? I don’t know. But there is no love that is for sure.
There are days when i see through the absence of love and what this absence of love causes and allows violence to happen without murmur or protest or protection. Black love. And dat black woman mus tek everyting. Every lik and burden and carry it all because “we are strong”. No. Love us. See our humanity and love us as your fellow human friend. No, not in romantic sense. Someone can appreciate our body parts but still hate us. Not unu dat living at low chakra levels. No, I mean love that black people mus have fi one aneda and treat we one aneda wid tenderness. A love that should have extended to that girl child from the older men in the community to allow her to grow into herself and choose her yes or no; and protect her on that journey….Not punish her.
I know that what we are experiencing now is not specific to us…In a way, humanity is not very loving right now…that is another discussion. And a nex day i will talk about the whitepeoples self-hatred and how it extends to planetary levels. But in this precise moment, i am concerned about the absence of love that blackpeople have and the self-hatred we have internalised, blackpeople in this post-emancipation, post-colonial, in-dependent stage that we are stuck in. Reclaiming love (and time) and moving beyond survival in the sense that Rex Nettleford spoke of. We are here, we are free to be, literally. So we must really practice love.
I am not sure what that looks like from a governance perspective, but justice, a good burial and support along the healing journey for this girl and her family are what immediately come to mind. Support that is unencumbered by bureaucracy or is at at least helpful. And certainly, beyond the political symbolic manipulation of social media to mek it look like seh de governament doing something…ah really hope that for the sake of the family, there is substance beneath the pontificating.
As for the men, I believe that it is time for the men who say “not all men are like that” to help the ones who are “like that” – paedophiles, rapists, sexual harassers, predators, the ones who do shit and unu hear about it over dominoes, football game, over drinks, and such tings and unu trivialise as conquering women’s body parts, lik dat, tap dis, battery de gyal, share up de tings; and tek it as a rites of passage into manhood; and toxic and disgusting manhood. Blackman unu fi do betta. I have seen the purity of this heart, the kindness of spirit, and warrior loving strength of blackmen in a collective sense. But this
other crap dat mix-up…this brokenness that is embedded in male privilege and entitlement to the female body is toxic and brutal. Plantation days are over, stop being niggas. This brutality is not your true expression. So toxic that i really think that is man fi solve dat. That smell and energy of consumptive brutality are familiar to me. Far too familiar and I refuse to engage in conversations with men that justify it.
Black woman can’t do every striking ting. We have to work on self-love too. Time for the men to do their part in the healing journey. So all a de warrior man dem wa a raise dem yute an talk de truth… I encourage you to do more.
About the Author
Taitu Heron is a slasher: MamaQueen/ Gender and Development Specialist/ Human Rights Advocate/ Performance poet/ Activist scholar. She is co-founder of the Tambourine Army and technical advisor to WE-Change.