You decide to take a risk.
You say to yourself, “well maybe this place will be safe. Maybe they will accept me for me even if they don’t understand every bit of me.”
Testing the waters, you expose a little of yourself. Vulnerability and honesty for the sake of growth, relationships, and genuine transformation. You hold your breath and wait. You exhale. And then you wait some more.
At first, everything seems to be okay. You are finally thriving in a place that seems warm and inviting, loving even. At first, people find your uniqueness, well your otherness, charming. They don’t seem disturbed by who you are or what you carry, mainly because they are caught up in struggles of their own. It’s not a perfect situation, but you say to yourself that it could work for the time being. You settle in.
You reach to find your voice, to speak your truth. While you are not an expert on the matter, you have enough first hand experience to at least be able to speak about your own identity, your familiarity with…oppression. And the space? It looks as good a space as any to begin to verbalize your own understanding on the things that affect you the most.
And then, just like you knew it would, it happens. Words, thoughts, and looks are exchanged and you wonder what just transpired. You question yourself saying, “Wait, I thought this was a place of learning and sharing, a place where a mature exchange of ideas could take place even if they were not agreed with.”
The silence and distancing proves to you it’s not!
Sadness begins to set in and it hurts like hell. Grief over something lost that was never really yours to begin with. The feeling is familiar and that provokes a sense of anger because the same scenario plays itself out over and over again. No matter how careful, how polite, how accommodating and how understanding you try to be, it just keeps happening.
But you long for community. You long for human connection. For the sake of connection, you’ll choose silence. You say to yourself, “next time I won’t speak. Next time I won’t preach. Next time I won’t write, go, or think. Next time I will mind my place.”
But don’t do that. Don’t let this beast, this burden, this curse of white supremacy silence you! Even if no one is listening, refuse to be silent about your pain and oppression, refuse to be silent about the suffering of many at the hands of a few.
So you’ll move on. You won’t let feelings of defeat set in. At least you will try not to. You’ll keep pressing forward and try a new strategy or two even though the scars, like the imprints of the nails on Christ’s hands, remain. Against your better judgment, you’ll take that next risk.
The cycle continues.