I woke up screaming loudly only to realize my screams were silent. Once again, I went to bed crying and woke up angry because I still feel like my voice has been silenced. Although in reality, it hasn’t been. I can still write, I can still speak but unfortunately, I, like my words don’t have any sound.
I felt this way a few months ago, when the pandemic started. My world was change within a moment’s notice. The words I wanted to speak would come out but they had no sound. Fast forward a couple of months to the murder of George Floyd and they became even more silenced. Fast forward again and they would form but they would not leave my mouth.
Do you know how painful it is to have so much to say but the words just won’t come out right and when they do, no one is really listening? It is not the best feeling but the key to your survival is to keep talking and to keep letting them form. Write them down, record them, do whatever it is that you think will be the most impactful and one day, the volume will come.
Being silenced is one of the most uncomfortable feelings. I have been silenced on many occasions recently here are some examples:
I am in an organization that has been challenged to do the right thing and make sure that all of the employees are treated equally and fairly. However, this has been lost in translation due to the motive and objectives of others, oh and don’t forget timelines. Somehow once again, the timelines have taken priority over the needs of the people and what needs to be done. I can tell you; the concern and compassion has not been genuine. It has all been textbook responses in nature. The appearance of compassion and concern has been there, but it is quickly followed up by,” oh and I need this by the 25th of this can’t be affecting you because there is work to do.” The other way my voice has been silenced, no one has decided to truly look at the problem of racism head on. Everything but racism has been addressed, we have been speaking about this for years. The fact that racism is the key factor, the things that people have done to us and continue to do to us is conscious…they know exactly that they are doing. They have just found a way for it to look like it is being done systematically, you know it is racism covered by a policy or procedure. Then there is the blatant racism that is just there, but it is so overt that people won’t believe you if you told them. We are expected to “push through” and “be resilient.” How so, when the very organization that I have served for over 20 years never really addressed the situation, they just glossed over it, created buzz words and kept it moving? If you look at the structure in the present day, strategically, it has all been done right. However, we have still only scratched the surface. There are people still crying out for true change. We are over the buzz words; we are over the unasked-for policy changes. We are over the appearance of change. We are tired of the band-aid fixes. We NEED, LONG FOR and DEMAND real change. Our voices are silenced even though it looks like they are listening.
Silenced voices are the loudest in the mental health arena. During this time, I have asked for help and advocate for others to reach out to mental health professionals. In some cases, I have been successful and in some cases, I have not. Reaching out is important. It is important for us to get help in a time when watching and reliving trauma daily has become the norm. How can we normalize watching people die or get shot every day by the hand of people who are supposed to protect us? We have even normalized the encounters of those who hate us. This IS NOT normal. However, we have learned to deal with it as a part of our survival. All while trying to survive a pandemic where thousands of people are dying daily. We are having to deal with all of this while raising our children in this “new normal” or what I like to call unnecessary exposure. How do we make sure they are okay from a mental health standpoint? How do I explain to them that their life truly matters, even when they can see otherwise? I will continue to pray for them daily, but I do know, there will be 2nd, 3rd and 4th order affects after all of this is “over”. We can never go back to normal. The normal as we know it will never return again. Keep speaking your words will eventually regain their volume.
Over the past eight months, the only constant thing has been change. So it was no surprise when a beloved actor and person, Chadwick Boseman passed away unexpectedly. This was something that took the world by surprise. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of great people have left us this year and we are or have mourned their death. However, this one is fresh due to his age and his medical condition that none of us knew about. Not that it is our business as fans but it was unexpected. I know for me this hit extremely hard based on the impact he had on the world and the appearance of him being healthy. This also hit hard for me because my father died from cancer and lived for two years after his diagnosis. This hit hard for me as most things like this do because it showed us once again, time waits for no one. We think we have time to say, “I Love You” or “Thank You” or “You mean the world to me” and in some cases we don’t. We are not promised tomorrow and neither are the people in our lives. This situation is a reminder to live your live everyday as if you are not promised tomorrow, because we aren’t.
Hold your loved ones closer. Communicate how much they mean to you and if nothing else, live each day as if tomorrow will never come. It is time to break the silence in this area. We can’t wait to say things tomorrow. We can’t put off for tomorrow the things that we can do today. We must SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT AND SPEAK LOUDLY. If for no other reason than to make sure our loved ones hear us. This is one area where our screams cannot be silenced.