Friday Feature: Kimyata Black
Who Am I When Everything is Muted?
When I was very young I fell out of a two story window. My leg was broken and I had a head injury. The results of these injuries were physical rehab and hearing and speech therapy. I barely spoke as a child because I was afraid others would make fun of my speech which meant most of my time was spent alone. My mother would consistently encourage me to speak up and read aloud whenever she could. One thing my mother said that truly resonates with me even to this day, was her insistence that I always speak up when I feel mistreated. However, as a child with a speech impediment and hearing issues I was insecure in the world around me. I feared the consequences of speaking up, worried that my voice, my truth, would hurt someone I love. I ended up keeping a lot of secrets about my childhood to myself. Then, one day, I spoke up. I spoke up because I was tired of being hurt by people who claimed to love me while concurrently forcing me to keep their secrets under threat of harm to me and my loved ones if I dared tell. The burden of keeping all these secrets was killing me.
I spoke up. I spoke to the very person who emboldened and encouraged me from the very beginning, my mother. After all my dark secrets had been thrust into the beautiful light I saw how angry she was that she had been unaware of all that I had kept from her and sad and disappointed that I didn’t trust her enough to speak up sooner. She wanted nothing more than to protect me from dangers known and unknown and here, I thought she needed my protection from the consequences of secrets that were not mine to share.
As an adult, we are asked to do some things we don’t agree with. Lie here, cheat there, add a little and give a little. I have a strong sense of integrity and deeply resent being asked to do things that go against my beliefs (specifically when my professionalism can be questioned). I have come to embrace the word “No”. If it is unethical and does not support my foundational beliefs, I will say no. Saying no to adults can be bittersweet. Once you stand up for yourself and refuse to allow the masses to silence your voice, relationships get tense. However, just as my mother reassured me that she would handle any difficulties that came up in my life when I was a child, I believe Jesus can handle all those things that I am unable to mend as a social worker. I believe if I speak up for myself, in the most loving and professional way possible, God will handle the rest.
The lesson my mother taught me was that my voice is the most powerful weapon in my arsenal. Being silent can propagate morally unstable environments where everyone ends up hurt because no one was willing to speak up.