Trauma. A word that we’ve all bonded with more frequently over the last few years in large part due to the pandemic and its innate ability both drive us crazy and force us to take a long hard look at ourselves and redefine what mental health looks like. 

We’ve had to interrogate ourselves with the hardest questions and take charge, holding ourselves accountable for the way we advocate for our mental health, emotional well-being and ability to positively contribute to the spaces we occupy. That process usually brings us back to where we started, home. 

Many of us who sit at intersections of marginalization usually find ourselves overwhelmed or looking for solutions beyond our grasp, and find solace in being able to talk to our therapist, be it a professional or our bestie. 

However, we rarely examine the cause of the issues at hand. We don’t usually embark on the journey of self-discovery by leveraging the distress we experienced that left most of us seeking to figure out who we are and what we stand for.

“What happens when we realize that big mama’s messaging on how to keep a man was degrading to your self-worth, and pop pop’s idea of masculinity was and still is a product of a social construct curated by white folks who worked to create the margins that forge the issues in the first place?”

The dependence minority communities have in regard to the family dynamic is in a lot of ways problematic. It causes generational trauma that lives through the expression and decisions made by members of the family thereafter, but what happens when what you know to be true for yourself and what you’ve been taught are conflicting?

In a generation of folks willing to do the work necessary to be the best version of themselves, what happens when we realize we have to re-raise ourselves? How much time do we lose furnishing space to “get it wrong” to make way for thoughts and behaviors seemingly etched into the fibers that tell us who we are as people? 

The answer appears to be that we thrive! Black boy joy is at an all-time high and the ability and willingness to have conversations that don’t begin and end with an excuse are amazing. On the flip side, is Black women taking up space for themselves in ways that don’t center the male experience as a guidebook. 

We are learning that there is nuance in our ability to experience both the world and our blackness in ways that feel more authentic than we imagined we could. At the same time, we have felt more liberated than we’ve ever been allowed to experience, and because of this our relationships are flourishing, we’re traveling in record numbers and taking hold of our financial freedom like never before.

I say this to say that grandma and “nem” weren’t wrong, but their methods of life are outdated and in most instances, they cause more harm than good. What they lacked due to an oppressive and extremely destructive system we make up for with our willingness to be defiant rather than complacent with change that happens incrementally. 

This doesn’t change the effect that it has on the way we navigate the world as human beings. It doesn’t change the way that our bodies respond to the violence that we see every day on social media and in our communities, but it does help us to understand ways to better navigate them and how we will move forward in the future. The goal, however, isn’t to continue to feel like backtracking once we get to a space where we feel the freedom to navigate our own lives on our own terms.

The goal is to create spaces that make sure there is less of a need to re-educate ourselves once we come of age simply because the work will be done correctly the first time. You’ll be able to discern for yourself the first time, read for yourself the first time, and interpret what the truth is for yourself the first time. Gone are the days of therapy sessions that discuss performative upbringing tactics that only serve the elder in question. Gone are the days of therapy sessions that discuss having to rework how we’ve been taught to think based on ideologies that won’t age well. And hello to the days of having a conversation for comprehension and moving forward in ways that help to impact future thinking that continue to elevate the way we see blackness and how we show up.