Beyond the captivation existed captivity.
Eyes capture everything; they hold all secrets, truths, joys and pains. They are the most striking feature of any living being. If, indeed, eyes are the gateway to the soul…Did they ignore? Or, did they see and feel shame? Possibly they were so captivated, they needed to possess, in search of that missing part of themselves. Maybe they did not know how to help; maybe they needed help themselves. Maybe, as someone once said to me, we all run towards what breaks our hearts.
Girls like me do not wake up one day and simply decide to be a girl like me. They do not plan to spend the better part of their lives lying on their backs in return for survival and visibility; all the while completely invisible. If they are anything like me, it’s more like ‘child interrupted’. Once a child full of light and innocence, wonder and creativity, something happens to alter their course in life. Someone steps into their path, turns the lights out and steals their very souls. In such cases, their brains are re-wired, nerve endings permanently affected, and their lens for how to both view and engage with the world is blurred. This is what trauma does to a person, especially a very small person who is still developmentally at large.
Pain is stored in the body, but it feels ‘normal’, so they move forward gravitating towards other people and situations that feel both normal and comfortable to them. Loveless situations; ones that reiterate to them their lack of value and worth. Imagine if this child once interrupted, continues to experience various traumas throughout the course of his/her life, compounding the effects of the original trauma, creating layers upon layers of faulty wiring and processing. With their vision stifled, crack upon crack, how can they begin to navigate any sustainable course in life?
There is no simple explanation for how this became my life. There were too many interruptions to imagine how it could have been different. The point of my sharing here is to bring awareness not to what we see/think we already know, but to provoke thought into things unseen, not looked at or imagined, in order to shed light on the truths people are afraid of. In saying this, I want the world to know, the truth really will set you free. It will, at minimum, set you on your path. Do not be afraid to remove your masks and use your voices. There is no other power equitable.
As the subject of racial slurs and marginalization for choices to procreate outside of my own race, I experienced first hand the pain of being mistreated over a simple preference in no way harmful to anyone.
Where deep Southern religiosity was fervent, the interplay between the psychology of the people and their beliefs was heavily present. My mother informed me I was doing my unborn child a “terrible dis-service by bringing it into this world.” I guess now looking back I understand. She knew my plight would be difficult; my colorful children’s ever the more manifest.
During 2003, I spent six months in jail awaiting trial for my non-violent participation and witness to a crime involving a high profile figure, who had admittedly solicited my time, abusing his position of power. Having repeated denials for a bond reduction, I witnessed how society values property (money) over a child’s innocence per say, where a petty robbery involving an actual criminal as the victim, can result in a bond of half a million dollars, while the sexual assault of a child would have a man out on $25,000.
I later lost two children to a foster system, initially placed there as a result of my incarceration, because I could not afford to provide substantial housing and the necessary financial support as a felon no one would hire. Poverty is the root injustice powering our justice systems now. Our justice system is at best, full of systemic failures. The United States houses the largest prison population in the world, otherwise known as modern day slavery. Historically and notoriously, we have ripped families apart whether families of color, or poverty stricken ones. We turn a blind eye to the connections, the corruption and conspiracies to keep certain groups marginalized…certain groups powering the monster…certain groups slaves to the monster.
When everyone else said no, there was a small private part of the population who always said yes. From literally nothing, I became the master of forging my own destiny, leaving all morals and societal opinions by the wayside. I do not regret today what society made me, and what I made of being made. There is a gift to every curse.
While lying on my back, I realized two things: power corrupts, and deep down everyone wants it. Whether it is power over finances, power over emotions, power over someone or thing, we all seek power either overtly or covertly. What we are all missing is the idea of “power with”. We are constantly pitting ourselves against something, some one, some group, something. Activism for instance, has its place no doubt, but honestly is no more than one group against another, fighting over whose ideas are right, and rarely focuses on how to build a bridge, locate and patch the gaps as needed. In reality, we would fare much better if we understood the stealth of power when two things come together, rather than fight against.
While lying on my back, I started to see the systems at play behind why power is such a sought out entity. I witnessed how socioeconomic status influences a person’s behavior in a privatized sphere, both theirs and mine. I realized how dominant standards of masculinity intersect with a man’s relationship between himself and society, both women and other men, and how widely held ideologies about what it means to be a woman play into a patriarchal culture set up to keep women subjugated, or as otherwise explained, “protected.”
I spent 13 years of my adult life paid the top rate for companionship in this part of the United States. Men will give away fortunes to keep you silent/complicit while validating their own positions of power. This of course, was a result of my ‘privilege’ to be a fair skin woman, with “eyes like water”…one who is extremely well read who used the gift of financial flexibility and took the time to continue pursuing her education in spite of hardships, possible future rejections and nearly immovable mountains. It was never as if I did not long for a legitimate position in life…they all just preferred me vulnerable. The felony following me around like a scarlet letter etched my perpetual fate in stone, and each new benefactor manipulated it in full. Everyone wants to be a savior.
As the survivor of many physical and emotional abuses, I watched as family, communities, and society in general, repeatedly turned their heads. If anyone knew the greater social implications of their negligences, they would have interjected at some point and stopped the vicious cycle of inhumanity at its worst, occurring right before their eyes.
We idealistically believe as humans we are of all importance, the top of the food chain…the most intelligent of species. We dominate all deemed lower life forms and use our power over their assumed lack of intelligence and physical abilities to resist our capacities as humans. We further use our ‘superior’ status to dominate one another, so hungry for more power over something that our abuses trickle into relations within our human interactions. When you are on the bottom, looking up into the face of power at its most corrupt, you see clearly the look in their eyes and sense of hunger fulfilled, and all you want is to eat. It is sickening really. When you are on top, all you see is what is beneath you. Two sides of the same coin rear clearly different heads, all in search of the same thing, at the expense of dignity and respect, morals and truths.
We live in a society where morale and truth only exist as figments of our imaginations. Yes, we are all corrupt in our search for power…all of us. We have created an infrastructure as such that it prevents most all of us from being innately who we are and expressing ourselves in a manner truly aligned with our souls. With such creative power and expression suppressed, we gravitate towards the next best thing to make us feel validated as humans. Supreme power. “White capitalist supremacist America”; a phrase coined by the renowned bell hooks referencing our dominant society. There is little to be modeled after here, yet the rest of the waking world hangs on our coat tails hoping to achieve a Western way of life (maybe that’s questionable today, given our present body of government).
As a felon, I still experience unending rejection for choices made 15 years ago, with no account for, or regard given to, any circumstances leading to my ill-guided choices. Today still, sometimes it matters not in the least, the significant strides I have made against improbable odds. That letter speaks loud and clear, marking a clear barrier in many respects to what I am allowed to do.
There are few social injustices I have not experienced or witnessed in all my vicarious years. I understand deeply and resonate with the struggle. Had I been born in a different place, with different cultural values, religious beliefs and mindsets, my life may have been different. My children’s lives may have been different. Had it been different, I would not be here to share the story that speaks volumes to both social and cultural issues faced right here within our own society. I am a living testament, with a unique lens into a number of issues in need of sincere attention and improvement.
Finally using my real voice, I say to a world continuing to misunderstand why I am here–I will continue the struggle. There is no security in security to me. I know too much, have experienced too much, to bow down and play small in this life. I am not interested in anything common or ordinary. I am here for one purpose alone…in service to others. There were many things I had to experience so I would better understand later, how to affect change. With real change comes the deepest understanding, one necessitating the other. I had to know great moments of powerlessness to become the powerful woman I am today.
I would like to thank each person who has encouraged me along the way, validating my purpose and existence. I absolutely would not be here today were it not for the love and support of a few. Who are we in life if not in relation to one another? Not simply drops in the ocean reflected in the moon…We are the ocean. We are the moon. We are.