“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields, and lovely flowers, and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But, I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.”
“That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s,” she said. “And let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You can not win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
– Viola Davis wins 2015 Emmy for Outanding Drama Actress
When I read this quote, it reminded me of a concept called race related trauma. I experienced this term in researching the sources of depression in people of color back in the early 2000s. It’s a little like the “I can’t breathe” mantra that was prevalent after the murder of Eric Garner by choke hold at the hands of an NYPD officer. For generations, women of color (and others) have been striving to cross a line that seems visible yet is no less impossible. In fact I would argue that this is primarily WHY race related trauma is so insidious. We feel we SHOULD be able to cross the line. Hell, it’s been over 200 years since Harriet Tubman uttered these words. Our country is in a dream that suggests ‘Post-racial America” is evenly and fairly distributed. We get what we earn, and if you are poor, it is because you deserve it. If your accomplishments are not recognized, then perhaps you should work harder. Yet, black women across the globe are the hardest working of all humanity. Despite generations of sowing and harvesting, they were left with little to feed their own families after making sure everyone else’s babies were full. So now, we must ask ourselves, what is the line that we are struggling to cross? What is the opportunity that seems nearly impossible to grasp? What losses are we grieving? Depression is made more powerful by the silence it evokes. Tell your story. Write your story. Be bold. Erase the Line.