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Silent UnPrivileged Stories

When I was a Big Brother
for Jason,
an African-American 10 year old male,
we went into his apartment
so he could look around
for a long overdue library book.

As I accompanied him
from room to sparsely furnished room,
looking in nearly vacant closets,
cupboards,
drawers,
the only book we found
was a phone book,
looking silently neglected
much more than actively abused.

My first white male privileged
feelings about his Mom
had to do with blaming her
for probably not even feeling ashamed
for her irresponsible choices
while economically and politically administering
their bookless house
in this pre-WWW information age.

But, then I began asking questions.
What could Jason tell me
about his Mom’s life
when she was his age?

What were stories
familiar to her,
read
or retold
or experienced
and re-experienced,
therapeutic or traumatic?

Through this widening narrative moment
of multigenerational conjecture,
hypothesis,
questioning,
contemplating,

I also learned to question
what traumatic straight white male stories
are experienced by gay
and bisexual
and transsexual 10-year-olds,
regardless of racial identification,

And by 10-year-old girls,
perhaps regardless of racial identification,
or even further amplified
by being doubly,
and silently, outside
straight white patriarchal privilege.

I found myself
suddenly
tearfully
incapable of briefly imagining
much less deeply,
unflinchingly contemplating
the trauma
of growing up poor
and lesbian
and black or brown
or too red
or too yellow
without any books
or stories,
read
or retold
or experienced
about how her 10-year-old life will matter,
could be healthy, someday,
would ever be felt safe,
unless held shamefully silent,

Not appropriate material
for books
or retelling
or experiencing straight
white
male dominant stories,
economic
and political narratives
about retributive trauma
and not multicultural
restorative
democratically inclusive therapy.

Standard

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