Throughout my life, I have struggled with anxiety. In my younger years, most of it was a result of social discomfort and a fear of other people. I didn’t speak unless I was spoken to and I rejected the world before it got the chance to reject me.
I was the little girl in the corner using a chapter book as a shield and finding new ways to disappear. As of the past few years, my worries have shifted. As I’ve gotten older, much of my anxiety has been directly related to my identities and what they mean to these other people. I’m afraid of what “me” means to “them”. It overwhelms me to think of all the reasons why people deny each other humanity and the weight of the target on your back can be haunting.
So it seems that now I am afraid of myself.
Queer. Black. Woman. Terrified.
Photo Courtsey of CreateHERStock
I’ve always had a hard time articulating this sense of inherent danger in one’s body to those who may not sit at the same intersections as I do, and when I try I often leave having been made to feel as if I’m being paranoid. But in the wake of the Orlando shooting, I have officially been hit with the true weight of my fears: their validity. I was right to be afraid. And I wish I wasn’t. This is no insightful revelation. Anyone paying attention would've learned fear like I did. The lesson is always the same.
In the past few years, I’ve been repeatedly taught two things:
1) Bodies like mine and people like me are magnets for violence. Brutality never forgets our address.
2) Safe spaces are conditional. Refuge can be confiscated. Churches aren’t safe. Clinics aren’t safe. Clubs aren't safe.
I always had my hunches, but as of late I’ve been right more times than I’d like to be. Charleston cemented for me that I wasn’t safe in this black body. Colorado Springs taught me that the world was willing to snatch my woman body from me if I attempted to establish autonomy over it. Orlando reminded me that all of me sits in one body and that there are times when all of you is a target. Being Black isn't safe. Being woman isn't safe. Being queer isn't safe. And I’m so tired of being rightfully afraid. It’s hard not to feel like that scared little girl these days. The world can seem so unwelcoming at times and for this reason, I cannot bring myself to begrudge those who retreat in response to its cold rejection. I’m having a hard time retaining hope and believing in the future as a more promising destination for historically (and currently) unsafe bodies. I don’t think things will get better anytime soon, but I’d love to be proven wrong on this one.
Written By: Jordan McDonald