For awhile now, I’ve been bristling when I hear people, writers, artists, celebrities, and politicians say they are the “voice for the voiceless”. Or they’re giving voice to the voiceless.
In so many respects, I would be considered a “voiceless”. I’m Mixed Blood, Indigenous and Black. I’m over 50. I’m a woman. I was born into poverty and raised by a single mother in a small white town in Minnesota where I could count the families of color on one hand. Statistically, I probably wasn’t supposed to make it out. I definitely shouldn’t have the education and degrees I have or the healthy family and relationships, a strong career, and a sense of self value.
I get that I beat the odds. Am beating the odds. And that it’s a privilege to be a storyteller. And a greater one to be able to do this job everyday, honoring this creative life I have. And yet, to be clear, even though I write about women of color, pain, violence, healing and survival, I don’t believe I am giving voice to the voiceless because…they…we are not without voice. My job is to create and hold a loving space for them.
Our voices have been oppressed. stamped out. We’ve been silenced by racist and misogynistic systems and institutions designed to keep us quiet. We’ve been beaten, our voices strangled. It’s been forcefully driven into us that our voices don’t matter so we should shut up. We must shut up. Be quiet or else.
But all that doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice. We did. We do. And it scares the shit out of some folks. That’s why they work so hard, so violently, to shut it up. Shut us up.
We have been whispering in the dark and singing into the winds. Preaching and laughing, crying and screaming. But have you been listening?
We are not without voice. We just might not have been heard. Yet.