NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 48

But there are solutions to the three Cs: We have to understand that there are stories within stories, some more complex than the other. Stories many of our cultures deny happens. Stories that, when left untold, leave us with a community, with a society without proper representation. When we tell people that they should be quiet because their stories do not fit what we know, we deny the importance of diverse narratives. We deny the importance of hearing about what others have survived; like when I sat with my friends years ago and listened, they all felt less alone. Like when I connected with Chinwe, I felt less alone like she did. We should seek to encourage people to tell their stories by listening to them with an open mind. If someone confides in you, telling you that they are depressed, do not brush it off and say depression only happens to certain people, not to us. Encourage them to tell their story. Sometimes listening is giving them power to own their story and break through the tradition of silence. Remember your vocabulary; you are not “allowing” or “letting” anyone tell you their story. You are encouraging them. Allow or let is placing power in your hands; it is not your story to tell. You are not in charge of how they decide to tell it. Encourage, not allow. We should not tell others that their experiences, though different, need not be told. In dismantling the tradition of silence, we understand it is not a weakness to seek help, and we should encourage people to do that, to go and find help. In Black communities, this is important. Yes, we can suffer from depression. Yes, we can speak to a therapist. No, we must [not] break our backs carrying silence like a badge of honor. Remember, how we heal from pain is different. As different as our lived experiences. It is important to understand that normalizing pain is a tragic cycle that must end. Another solution is localizing the issue. For instance, in Zimbabwe, there are friendship benches in certain townships for people to sit and talk to mental health advocates through an ngo using a model program from Canada. They are trained to know how to speak to people with anxiety and depression. They are not psychiatrists. Instead, these are citizens who care and want to help. Here, people sit and discuss with advocates who will listen and not judge. For the first time in their lives, people who have been told their problem isn’t big enough, women who are at a disadvantage, who carry pains and just need to be listened to, can sit and understand their pain is valid. This is how we shift something in our society; this is how change happens. Their stories are just as important for them to own it and to tell. For power to be given back to the survivor. These stories are part of the human experience. If our silence continues, how can we add our lived experiences to the human story? We have to use bigger lenses to see the world. As people with a story, as people with a pen, as people with a platform, we must tell it, because we are witnesses to it all. The daughters of the women who hide wars every morning are slowly getting tired. I am proud to be a witness to this political culture where dismantling silence is encouraged through owning and telling our stories. This is an act of civil disobedience. n 23 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE poetry U P O N T H E G I V I N G O F T H E W. E . B . D U B O I S AWA R D TO D E R E K WA L C OT T AT T H E B L A C K W R I T E R S ’ C O N F E R E N C E , M E D G A R- E V E R S C O L L E G E , B R O O K LY N M A R C H 2 9 T H , 2 0 1 4 By Mervyn Taylor Port of Spain or Castries, No Greeting Is Casual By Mervyn Taylor I had hoped you would read past the first ten pages or so, getting to the good stuff, glasses reflecting the evening light coming off the Vigie headland, making sure my endings were no longer shrill, that they stopped like the wooden wheels of a donkey cart, the animal knowing where better than the driver. I’ve been practicing, Derek, holding each word like a dancer before the dip, in the backyards where we boys readied ourselves for the girls. I did not paint at an early age, as you did. I looked at the living portraits of uncles and aunts, what the sagaboys made of their rough-stitched, determined selves. These are what I sent you, Sir, in disguise, hoping they would get through, that the winds might carry them to where you sat facing the sea. I had no idea they had already arrived, and you had thrown up your hands, impatient with one small error. 3/17/17 after Derek Walcott She sat in a pew near the entrance, in an aisle seat, so that leaning a little to the left, she had a clear view of the casket. 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