Your silence will not protect you. Your silence will not protect you. -Audre Lorde
Those words were rolling around in my mouth as I read through the several blogs posts and articles chronicling the untimely suicide of Karyn Washington, founder of For Brown Girls. Immediately, my bones stiffened like concrete and my heart began to thump briskly behind my breasts. This response is familiar; it arrives as a protective warning and physiological memory of trauma. Karyn and I had never met but in solidarity we carried a kinship of resonant armor. I was distressed by the reality that the darkness of mental health had taken another one of us. A darkness that has also visited me.
Here lies a complicated conversation surrounding silence. It truly demonstrates the abstract space of the individual, the shadow that seals the body in tight, discoloring our vision and making the world appear to exist very far away from us. A scrim used to protect and sometimes hide behind, but cannot always be removed. Her singular experience may never be able to be examined. The private qualities to mental illness. The darkest parts of vulnerability. The depth of repressed pain. These complexities are difficult to pattern or describe. They are real. Real enough that her emotional experience most likely existed like a violent, but familiar enemy lashing out unexpectedly. As we have seen. Some may believe that Karyn had the resources and belief systems she needed to rise above social naysayers and tackle the dense barriers inside of a black female body.
Is this proof of our silence not protecting us? Continue reading