Black, indigenous and women of color are not your sin-eaters, we don’t exist to endure pain for the sake of our communities.

The 1st of May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, and Wear Your Voice’s writers and editors have always worked on shedding light on the mental illness, health and the stigma attached to both. Mental health is a feminist issue—it is inextricably linked to oppressions like misogyny, queerphobia, transphobia, racism, ableism and a multitude of others.

Studies have proven what we already know through our experiences: racism is literally making us sick. Micro and macro-aggressions take a toll on our mental health, and for those of us with mental illnesses, treatment is often difficult, heavily stigmatized or ignored. In our worst moments, mental illness can lead to the police killing us rather than helping us.

Our pain goes unnoticed or untreated because there are limits to the empathy people feel for us, especially for indigenous and Black women and femmes. Resilience happens to be the thing people praise about us rather than our vulnerability or softness. But when do we get to be open, honest and broken without being discarded because we cannot take care of everyone around us? Why is it that people expect us to fix everything without taking the time to heal from our own wounds?

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The expectation of emotional strength and resilience in the face of different kinds of abuse and trauma is taking its toll on us, and when we push back to say that we are centering ourselves—our emotional well-being, our goals, our self-love—we’re accused of being selfish or abandoning our one true calling to bear the sins of others while we quietly suffer in the darkness of pain.

Black, indigenous and women of color are not your sin-eaters, we don’t exist to endure pain for the sake of our communities—we deserve to exist for ourselves, for our own happiness and as vulnerable beings capable of feeling pain, expressing why and how it hurts us, and healing from it. Making space for ourselves and our mental health is crucial in a world that treats us as if we were made to be step-stools for white women and men.

This month Wear Your Voice will be featuring pieces about OUR happiness, OUR achievements, OUR healing and pleasure. We are more than the pain you put us through, we are more than the resilience you praise so much, we are here for ourselves, not for you.

 


 

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