I’ve been grappling lately with the concept of rage. When does anger get classified as rage?
What does anger and rage look like expressed from a Black body?
How and/or is this more deeply feared than anger from other groups?
I’ve been reading the text Killing Rage ending racism by bell hooks which has prompted me to question this concept deeply.
In her first chapter she discusses the danger of silence for ourselves as Black folx and the potential to end racism. Specifically, she addressed the systemic/structural ways racism has silenced the anger and rage of Black people.
“To perpetuate and maintain white supremacy, white folks have colonized black Americans, and a part of that colonizing process has been teaching us to repress our rage, to never make them targets of any anger we feel about racism. Most black people internalize this message well.” – bell hooks
So, why am I writing about this? Recently, someone said to me “You carry a lot of anger!” I laughed it off, because most of the time I’m operating in a calm, peace and light bearing manner. What I realized in that moment however, is that for the longest I have repressed anger. Why? It is an emotion I do not know how to deal with well, I’ve always seen it or understood it as expressed through fighting or violence, a response that is not necessarily natural to me.
As I reflect on the words of my close friend, I recognize that I fear my own anger. I unwillingly release it through uncontrollable tears when I fail to articulate it directly to the source causing the anger. What does this mean? It means that I carry unresolved trauma, due to my uncomfortability with the emotion our society has labeled “anger.”
Where did I learn to fear this? The news that depicts angry Black people as primitive, relentless and savage? Religious dogma that teaches turn the other cheek, when in fact God, in most faiths demonstrates righteous anger? In a home where women were secondary, invisible, or silenced? Do you silence your anger? If so, why? How?
Today in trauma training we were asked to map out a “river or life,” where we identified particular instances of trauma in our life trajectories. As I drew an image resembling both trauma and resiliency I didn’t feel much. Even in discussion, I did not express a response. It wasn’t until my parter acknowledged my progress in dealing with such a recent trauma (2-3 years) that I began to cry, shake and become angry. I had to take a walk. In this walk I wrote the following:
Most days, it no longer crosses my mind.
YOU no longer cross my mind.
And for that, I am grateful.
Because to walk through the nightmares again
makes me shake.
It’s been over two years!
It’s only been a little over two years…
Some days I applaud myself for the growth, those days I’m not thinking about you.
Some days I have to work much harder.
Because part of me, deep down inside is still afraid.
I am making up for time I feel was stolen from me,
Under a false premise, a walking, talking, breathing lie.
Sure, you were carrying trauma too.
Sure, I made decisions with you.
But Fuck all the feelings.
Fuck all of that.
You fucked me up and you got me fucked up.
Yes. I’m still angry.
No. I will not forget. I cannot forget.
Yes. I still feel your trauma too.
No. I never wanted any of this to happen to you.
Yes. Some days I wish I had just hit you.
So you could feel
Just an ounce.
But that’s exactly what you wanted
A reaction, connection. The feeling behind the crazy passion.
I refuse. To give that to you.
I hope you leave me alone for the rest of my life.
I can’t even visit home comfortably anymore…
Because when I’m home there’s an ever present FEAR you will pop up somewhere near
And if I EVER see you again…
I pray for us both that does not happen
For they say anger is not the way
I say my anger is righteous and you should hope it stay that way
Yes. I’m angry. But most days I choose serenity.
Because I’m done, have been done, for years, giving you THAT energy.
I write this, to tell you. Don’t let anyone diminish your anger. You’re not just another angry Black person. That mess comes from some mess. And in order to heal, release it to the creator, and create change, we have to revel in that RAGE. All power to the people.