I don’t know what I’m fighting for anymore.
The amount of fear I experience every day as a queer person of color is unnatural. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is the overwhelming threat to our own psyches, so dangerous that it has the power to change our everyday patterns and how we forever see and feel the world. I had a good friend make a profound observation one day: “we are all traumatized beings colliding with other traumatized beings.” As members of our society, we have lost feeling for the amount of violence we take in everyday, we cannot hear the severity in the harsh curse words of our neighbors, and the constant abuse upon ourselves comes in all forms. Tell me a day you have looked in the mirror and didn’t see your dark skin as a mark, or your accent as noise, or your presence as someone else’s waste?
I don’t know what I’m fighting for anymore.
There is one phenomenon in the history of humanity that takes me into the dark, damp realm of fear and hopelessness. As a social worker, I chose (then paid a lot of money for a degree) to ram into trauma head-on. Sexual abuse, neglect and all out inhumane wrongness are the things that I help people steer away from. For it to be positive is a tossup, and honestly a choice. I’m just providing a space for the person to do the driving. Usually individuals struggling with everyday issues are no different than me. We are two people tasked to hold onto the intimate wrestle with life.
Yet again, it is one thing that frightens me deep into my core that I can’t and hopefully, never will comprehend. To me, the day that I do, the day that I understand why it happens, is the day my consciousness dies and I accept it as an experience commonplace in the world with no solution. Mass extermination of a collective group of people. The constant and consistent extermination of a presence and population that one or many we know may belong to, along with ourselves, and there is nothing we can do to change it. The Metropolitan Area of DC (including Virginia and Maryland) has been hit hard particularly recently with a horrifying rash of killings, attacks and mishandlings of crimes against queer people, particularly transwomen. It has even gotten to the point where the people who are supposed to protect us, laugh in our faces. To them, our cries and pleads aren’t real. Our ability to express ourselves, the very essence of our souls through material things such as clothes and makeup, the unbelievable ability to embrace our femininity no matter how we came into the world, leads to death. Each loss makes me pray harder with bleeding knees for what has happened and what there may be to come. I’m terrified for my friends, people I know and people with whom I don’t know yet. I cross my heart my brother holds his temper in public and understands that yes, we all have a right to speak about injustice, but being a 6’7″ black man, some people feel the only way to bring you down is a bullet right through you. I am nervous to walk down streets even in the daytime as a smaller stature black woman, in hopes that my path won’t be riddled with street harassment. How much longer can I stay in panic hoping my friends who are trans, or even appear to be trans, aren’t pulled into the slaughter of young lives expressing their inner most truths? It’s getting to the point where I can’t feel anymore.
What is there, with hope, left to fight for?
Existence. The right to exist. The ability to step out of our doors and breathe, knowing that our next breath won’t be taken by someone else. If there a capability to own the freedom is there to express the you that only you feel like you can see, to the world? What does that even feel like? Why can’t I feel that? Why can’t I know my place is right here, right now? But the thing is, everyone else thinks their right to exist doesn’t include us. The ideals that we have to existence are removable and can easily be exterminated.
Yet, we can’t cry freedom without sacrifice. I have been told some words recently that have changed my perspective on any and every activity that I put my energy into. That I must “fight for my healing and transformation”. That if I want to make space for change, I have to fight for it. Just making time for it doesn’t count anymore. If I wan’t a sacred hour, I must push away all the distractions, silence the noise inside and outside my head. Gather my materials and work. Work every second of those 60 minutes, then make space again. Each step has to be two steps ahead. Our well-being is not a part-time job. “When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime,” says Angela Davis. “We persevere,” says bell hooks, “because we believe our presence is needed, is important.”
We have to remember, what we do, has a reward, and a consequence behind us. Many more of us will die before the rest of us will get to live. But let us all unselfishly live as if our presence, our footsteps, are making space for the next person behind us. The thing to fight for is you because is it making space for us. The right to believe is to seek, the right to exist is to do.