People of Color Need People of Color
It Forces Us To Step Up Our Game And Focuses Our Aim
I have been included in an amazing group of writers who call themselves simply Writers and Editors of Color. They do not have a website, but each of them combined (forty-eight and counting), have an interconnected platform of thousands.
We follow each other on social media, we support each other’s writing by reading each other’s articles and commenting and sharing them when we can.
I am one of the few for instance, who do not have a paid subscription to this Medium platform because I can’t afford it, so we all come from different economic backgrounds, but the one thing that we have in common is that we are all people of color.
Specifically, we are Black people.
This is important because until 2020 I didn’t know a single person that was Black, or mixed race, who was writing about topics that interested me. Like mental health, racism, sexual abuse, and trauma.
These things matter to me largely because that is what I’ve had to deal with in my lifetime, and it’s important for me to know that I am not alone. It’s important for me to know that other people have had to deal with these issues so that I feel better about sharing my own experience.
It can be exhausting when you are a person of color, to share your story and have people tell you that you are a liar, or that you’ve replaced real memories with imaginary ones. When I first started sharing my story at the hospital my doctor told me that I sounded psychotic.
He inferred that I had made it up, and no matter how many times I told him I was having nightmares of the things that I went through, he refused to believe that I might be telling the truth.
So yes I switched Doctors, but my current doctor, even as a woman of color herself, refuses to acknowledge my experience and instead spends our sessions talking around my trauma, instead of allowing me to address it directly.
This can be incredibly frustrating when there are people in the world who are seeing your brand being built on the idea that you’ve experienced trauma, and doctors are ignoring all the evidence that you’ve compiled in order to discount everything you know to be true.
I have worked incredibly hard over the last four years to build up my brand, and to heal the trauma that I have experienced, and the worst part of all of this is that although my Doctor is seeing me get better, she still refuses to say “Devon, I believe you.”
That can be utterly debilitating, and it can make you think that if a registered, certified, Doctor doesn’t believe you, then perhaps no one else will otherwise.
Here’s the thing that I have learned about Doctors however, they don’t know everything about mental health, sexual abuse, and trauma, and that’s largely because even after all the evidence that we’ve compiled about sexual abuse and trauma, they still refuse to acknowledge that things like gang-rape, and sex cults actually happen.
I don’t know if it’s because they don’t want to talk about it, or if it’s because they are afraid of feeling trauma themselves if they open themselves up to discussing it, but what I do know is that far too many doctors want to deny that these things are actually happening to women and men around the world.
Having people who look like me tell me that they too have been victims of sex cults as children, in Canada, as women of color, is important because it qualifies that if it did happen to them, and I believe that it did, then maybe my memories are not full of shit either.
It’s important to have people believe you, to understand that what you say from your point of view matters, and it’s hard to do that when you are surrounded by people who do not look like you.
It’s more than having people just look like you, it comes down to shared experiences. Black people understand what racism feels like, they understand what it means to be abused specifically because of the color of your skin. Chinese people understand this.
Malaysian people understand this. Anglo-Saxon white people do not however understand this because they’ve never had to deal with being hated for the color of their skin.
White people like to tout the idea that the dislike of them is reverse racism, but people of color know that this is not the reality. It’s not your skin color that people of color dislike, it’s the people who have similar colored skin as you, who behave abhorrently, that we do not like. That’s the difference.
When George Floyd died I made a concentrated effort to surround myself with people of color who are also writers, editors, and educators, because I wanted to feel like I wasn’t alone. I wanted to start creating a network of people who look like me to insulate myself from people who do not.
In many ways, the people of color that I am meeting these days, although they are quickly becoming friends and allies, are also becoming a shield against a world that hates me because of the color of my skin.
The opportunities that are coming my way are a byproduct of associating myself with people who genuinely understand the struggle, and think that what I have to say should be spread as far as wide as possible.
This is super helpful to me because it bolsters my self-confidence and reminds me that I am on the path that I have always said that I wanted to be on, but it took me a very long time to find my way here.
For years my social media connections and even my friends and family were all white people. This wasn’t deliberate, I just didn’t think about the importance of including people of color into my circles. I didn’t know I needed them because no one told me growing up that I was going to need people who looked like me.
It was only when I started speaking out that I realized the importance of people who look like me, being around to inspire me, challenge me, push me, and teach me, to do and be a better writer than I was yesterday.
Stepping up my game means knowing what to say about myself when the opportunity arises. It means understanding US Tax law so that I can get paid for doing all the work that I do. It means understanding that I am not just a writer, I am a freelance writer, who is doing what I can to get my name out there so people will want to eventually pay me to add my name to their product.
I have found in the past when white people offered me advice about how to advance my career as a creative person I didn’t honestly listen to them because there was always this invisible wall of “you just don’t understand my experience”.
That was absolutely true, but when that same advice comes from people of color, specifically Black people, it’s easier to digest because yes, they do understand my experience. There’s no excuse for me to not take their advice, there is no invisible wall because we (POC) are all behind that same “white people just don’t get it” wall.
When we surround ourselves with people who look like us and understand our experience, we become more confident in being ourselves. We feel more confident in expressing ourselves honestly and openly.
That gives us the opportunity to become happier, and ultimately healthier human beings. And who on this earth doesn’t want to be a happier, healthier, version of themselves?
I will say that I have wonderful friends, wonderful, inspiring, challenging, beautiful friends, who absolutely push me and inspire me to be the best version of myself, but that’s largely because although they accept that I love them, they also understand that sometimes there are just things they will never understand.
Not every person of color on this earth can say that. Not every person of color has had the opportunity to sit down with white people and have them actually listen to the experience of the person of color.
But because I am, because I have been surrounded by white people who have accepted me while simultaneously encouraging me to seek out others that look like me, I am more comfortable being myself than I ever have been before.
People of color need people of color.
It is the only way that we’re truly going to be well-rounded human beings who know how to connect to all kinds of people from around the world.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall