How we react to injustice is valid
Last week’s events at the U.S. Capitol were horrifying. I will say that while I’m not surprised, I was still affected—very affected. My emotional reaction made me emotional. It made me reflect on my privilege. It made me confused and angry and sad. It made me tired.
I learned of the news from my boyfriend, and I immediately ignored it. I talked about this trauma response, and how it was similar to when I heard about 9/11, in this TikTok video:
Some commented that it was delayed processing, someone else said that they shielded themselves from it, and others said that they dissociated. You can also say that avoiding this news was a coping strategy or mechanism. I think the language you use to describe this response relates to what you’ve heard from others, how you feel in your body, and how you’re relating to it. For example, if you say you “dissociated,” that’s what happened in that moment. But if you say it was a “trauma response,” this describes a pattern of behavior when your body senses overwhelming information. Calling it a coping strategy or mechanism describes the “dissociation” as what you did to avoid the news, but it doesn’t necessarily connect it to a traumatic pattern.
I think it’s important to understand the language we use when we describe our emotional and physical reactions to news we didn’t really expect.
Our privilege, personal identities, lived experiences, community influences, humility, vulnerability, and critical thinking all contribute to how our bodies and minds react, respond, and process this information. This guides the language we use, the people we turn to, and the decisions we make.
After I decided to accept this news, I couldn’t look away from the reports, live footage, and social media reactions. It was a lot to take in. It was the middle of my work day, and I could barely respond to emails. My body was exhausted. I stopped my day at 4:00 p.m. and took a nap. I’m glad I listened to what my body needed instead of burning myself out.
But the thing is, I’m still overwhelmed by this display. Because the thing is, it takes more than one nap and more than a few days to just “move on”—especially when we are expected to work through and “move on” on from systemic injustice. This is just not viable, and it’s not fair. What happened in Washington, D.C. is a result of centuries of enslavement, capitalistic industrialization, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and white supremacy, that separate the haves from the have nots.
I think what frustrates me the most is that the world gives us so much, there isn’t that much more to have. Yet, greed and the desire to be supreme, masked as “achievement” is a natural byproduct of capitalism and it’s the process that feeds it.
So I don’t plan to “move on” from this. This has given me more resolve to embody my values of equity, anticapitalism, community, vulnerability, unlearning, and compassion. It makes me more curious about transformative justice work. And it helps me see why abolition is more important than ever.
Some say that the “woke” are pushing the right toward extremism. But I say that their reaction is fueled on the fear of change, whether it’s real or not. This is what happens when you hold your boundaries. This is what happens when you stay firm. You make the abuser, the violator, and the gaslighter uncomfortable. No matter the counterargument, if our actions are rooted in decolonization, community care, and justice, you will find your trajectory.
Our reaction and our resolve is valid. Whether you rested, whether you mobilized, and whether you crawled into a corner of your room, your reaction is valid. Just as we are different people with different experiences, we will have different reactions. And we also have an opportunity to make a decision. What will your decision be?
I am deeply committed to mutual aid, looking at relational frameworks, trauma-informed care, and learning more about transformative justice while working with others to attend to their nervous system and connect to their bodies. Collective and individual action work in concert, always.
How have you been moving through this week? What decisions will you make?