Do You?

Because I didn’t really understand how important it was for me to hear Black folk speak and connect on conversations of racism and abuse and the generational trauma that come with the above listed until I rejoined WEOC and the 1619 Book Club project the WEOC Executive team is putting on every Tuesday through Twitter Spaces.

The educated ones leave, the ones with the potential to right the wrongs. They Go Back To Help.
―Devon J Hall

It is without a doubt one of the most important experiences of my life, and even as I sit here with my broken tooth in incredible amounts of pain, I sit and I listen and sometimes interject my own thoughts on a project that I haven’t had the chance to read yet, and then I see the vitriol and hatred that comes from the outsiders.

There are people who hate this project, they don’t hate the truth of it, they don’t hate that the history is real or that it’s still affecting descendants of the victims of slavery, what they hate is that it’s true, and because it’s true, they hate that the project exists.

TOO FUCKING BAD

I am so tired of feeling so completely alone in the world when it comes to Black culture. There is almost zero representation of Black folk in Canadian media, and often times we’re getting shot in Degrassi, or we’re talking about sports, we are excluded when it comes to conversations about mental health, trauma, generational curses, because we’re Canadian’s so how bad could it be?

Look at my history, for example, it’s bad. We need books like the 1619 project to foster these connections, ESPECIALLY in 2021, we need these books, these stories, these rich histories filled with trauma, in order to remind us that we no longer need to ask permission, to take time to heal.

When Black folk are isolated from each other, when we tear each other down instead of lifting each other up, we stop having these conversations and people keep thinking that they are unimportant. No, I haven’t read the book, but I am learning about the book from the WriterS and Editors that are teaching about it every single week.

I am learning by choosing to deliberately surround myself with people of color like my friend and sister writer Nada, who writes about her life escaping a dangerously unwanted marriage and life. I am learning from Hal Harris a former professional educator and a Pulitzer Prize winner in the making. I am learning from Allison Gaines and all these amazing people who are teaching me for free, that MY voice matters.

I am the Loud Mouth Brown Girl but don’t think that just because that’s my brand, I am comfortable with it. I would be much more comfortable if I were a mother, a wife, a person who could just write for her own amusement instead of needing to be the person who writes for money. I am GETTING comfortable with my voice being important to others, but it’s not easy.

I grew up being told to “quiet down”, told I was “too intimidating” and that “You need to tone yourself down to make other people comfortable”. I was thirty-something when I finally said “no, I will not be less intimidating. I will not be less of myself to make small people feel big.”

My whole life was filled with people who underestimated me, who said no when I said yes, and yes when I SAID NO, and when I MEANT NOT TODAY NOT TOMORROW, NEVER AGAIN MOTHERFUCKERS, they laughed and said “we’ll see.”

Well now, here I am surrounded by some of the most amazing writers in the world, from WEOC to former Roleplayers, turned activists, journalists, teachers, mothers, fathers, and they are all in their way changing the world with their voices, so why not me too? Why not you as well?? Why not all of us?

Because…..Y said so…..

Well, tell Y to kiss your ass and move on, to keep going in another direction, because you don’t need their negativity. X will help you, whoever they are, whatever their names, or their color or creed or nationality, there is SOMEONE out there, who wants to help lift you up, but you have to do the work and go and find those communities you missed out on having as a child.

If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.
― Zora Neale Hurston

I actually remember the day that I became colonized, the day that I gave up on being my true Black self, and it was long before I dyed my hair back to black. It was the day that I decided to stop seeing my life as a science experiment and a learning lesson and started treating it like an albatross. I hadn’t been raped again yet (oy!) and I was just so ….alone. I was moving into this new “adult” phase of my life, but I never felt like I got to graduate from the old life.

I didn’t have a celebration to say goodbye to my childhood friends, I didn’t make plans for the future, I was so traumatized, I didn’t know how to make plans for the future, and that’s precisely why in 2021 I am so proud to be a part of the group of Black women around the world, speaking out about our experiences.

Knowing there are girls out there wondering if their voices matter, Brown and Black girls specifically, I want you to know that it absolutely does. There are women out there, who matter to you, who matter to themselves, who need to know that you think they matter, and there are girls out there thinking they will never matter.

I don’t know what the majick formula for success is, but I know if sharing my voice is a part of it, then I am already there. Why aren’t you joining us?

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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