Tag Archives: Racial Trauma

OPINION: Where Service Begins

by Sophia Malik

I spent my earliest years running barefoot through freshly cut grass. The border between my Brown skin and the brown earth was indistinguishable. My unruly dark hair billowed behind me, curling in no particular pattern, as did the branches of the oak tree holding my treehouse. My father was usually doing yard work nearby. A post-war child, born out of Partition, who was trying to nurture seeds in a new land, his eyes were often heavy with worries he struggled to communicate about. Sometimes he shared painful stories with me. Other times he chose to say nothing, bringing my attention to the present beauty around me while sharing a box of oranges or mangoes as we rested under the shade. In the evenings, he would walk with me on his shoulders, helping me touch the sky and understand the stardust we all are. He found healing in the nature around us, and encouraged me to do the same. 

My mother was an artist with a deep knowledge of ancestral traditions. She brought an element of subtle transcendence to the most mundane tasks. A true village auntie, she constantly shared unsolicited advice with others in hope of uplifting those around her. She had a recipe or remedy for any illness, emotional or physical. Neighbors recalled, with gratitude, her teas brought in the dark of night to their home to aid a sick child. She had learned love and service from her mother and, with her actions, was beginning to pass teachings down to me.

In my adolescence, I lost both my maternal grandmother and my mother to cancer. I fumbled my way through this already inherently challenging time of life. With their eternal prayers, supportive friends, and pure luck, I got into medical school. As a chronic daydreamer, the studies were really difficult for me. When I transitioned to the practical, hands-on part of my training, I was so overwhelmed by white medical culture, that I’ve considered labeling my memoirs of that time “The Angina Monologues.” The culture prized speaking loudly and with authority, having a firm handshake, hiding doubt, and assumed all things could be known, fixed, proven, and plugged into an algorithm if we obsessively intellectualized and collected enough of a specific type of data. There was no space for the unknown. I was encouraged to fake it ’til I made it, but to my own detriment, I have a distressing inability to be fake. 

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Japanese American Redress and African American Reparations Intertwined

by Kamna Shastri

When Satsuki Ina’s mother received her reparations check from the US government in apology for incarcerating over 120,000 Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1945, the check ended up somewhere in a stack of papers piled high on her desk. Instead, a framed apology letter leaning against the wall caught Ina’s eye.

“What does this mean for you?” Ina asked her mother.

“I feel like I finally got my face back,” her mother replied.

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How Seattle Therapists Make Space for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

by Suhani Dalal

Since the start of the global pandemic, one Seattle therapist said that roughly 90% of her new clients are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), compared to before, when about 70% were white. 

“There are so many people coming into therapy for their first time — first in their family, first in their history,” said Asian American psychotherapist and codependency therapist Ivy Kwong. “I always tell them: ‘I’m so grateful you’re doing this work, it’s not easy, but it’s the most important work I believe you can do in this lifetime. The work you are doing [honors] your entire lineage because it will heal past and future generations.’” 

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OPINION: Fighting Racial Dialogue Fatigue

by Ralina L. Joseph

While I was facilitating a racial dialogue session today, a white woman expressed what so many of us are feeling around racial justice work right now: she said she was exhausted. In response, a BIPOC participant respectfully sighed, “I’m tired too, but I don’t have the luxury to lie down.” 

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How a Weed Store Became a Symbol of Seattle Gentrification

by Elizabeth Turnbull

Since the Seattle protests began in late May, demonstrators have gathered in front of various police precincts and city buildings to protest police brutality and systemic anti-Black racism. Two protests this summer, including one held two weeks ago, have shifted to focus on the issue of gentrification in general, and on one pot shop in particular: Uncle Ike’s. 

On the evening of Aug. 7, a rally organized by the Engage Team, a group of young activists who posted their first rally in July of this year, gathered in front of the pot shop’s newly-opened location on East Olive Way, and marched to the original Uncle Ike’s storefront on 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, in the Central District (CD), calling for a boycott of Uncle Ike’s weed shops and a halt to predatory development.

“The main goal is to pretty much expose gentrification, expose what’s going on and how it’s working in Seattle,” said Peyday, one of the organizers with the Engage Team. “We want to expose the little details of racism that people don’t really understand, and so now we’re trying to expose gentrification as well.”

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Seedcast: Indigenous Ways of Being — Reclaiming Authenticity in Storytelling

by Taylor Hensel

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Powerful, prophetic teachings can be found in our stories which explain reality but also give us the momentum to imagine and make urgent change. Among these lessons, there is one that tells of a time when Mother Earth will be in pain and Indigenous stories and teachings will be needed for healing. I firmly believe we are in that moment now. In the midst of a global pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, the world is on fire and we are faced with the challenge of confronting deep truths about inequity and injustice. This challenge must be met by a solidarity between Indigenous, Black and Brown peoples speaking up for change. In this spirit, the South Seattle Emerald is proud to launch a new monthly column in partnership with Nia Tero as a creative platform for Indigenous voices and narratives. Our first story is an op-ed, by colleague and Indigenous creative Taylor Hensel (Citizen of Cherokee Nation), who brings light to the power of story and the storyteller. Her analysis of narrative as power encourages us to ask — What new stories can we tell to help create the better world we desire?

—Tracy Rector, Nia Tero Managing Director, Storytelling

One of the most effective ways to disempower a group is to disturb its unity. The ongoing systemic attempt to erase Indigenous peoples through division has deep roots in the foundation of government and most western constructs, including storytelling. As a Cherokee filmmaker and journalist, this is a reality I know to be true. 

For centuries, false narratives imposed on Black and Brown people about themselves and their communities have been used as tools of disempowerment. In the midst of a pandemic and civil rights reckoning, the need to rebuild and reform systems that continue to promote injustice is clear. One of the ways institutionalized oppression is continually reinvigorated is through the misrepresentation of marginalized peoples. This is done through the stories that have been told and continue being told about our past, present, and future. 

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Pediatrician Ben Danielson Sees Stress in Children Visiting Odessa Brown Clinic, but He Still Sees Cause for Hope

by Sally James

For pediatrician Ben Danielson, a doctor at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle’s Central District for 21 years, everything has changed. 

The adorable toddlers he sees there in a brightly-painted room, can only see the top of his face — just his eyes and eyebrows. They see him gowned and masked. Danielson is accustomed to winning over most of the wariest kids with his smile, but that’s hidden behind personal protective equipment. The pandemic has made him an alien — more of a stranger than he has ever been — when he needs to connect with his patients the most.

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When You Thought You’d Seen It All … Healing From Racial Trauma

by Ashley McGirt

When I first saw the scars so deeply rooted into the back of an African American slave, I thought I had seen it all. When I viewed a photo of Emmett Till for the first time, I thought I had seen it all. I can still see his mother’s face, the cries that were captured on film, the crevices in the corners of her eyes that would form valleys so deep no one would ever dare travel through. I studied her face, then went back to her son’s face that no longer bore a resemblance to anything human. In that moment I saw how Americans can, and still do, view Black people as less than human. I remember Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Charleena Lyles, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless others who we have lost to police violence. You continue to think you have seen it all until the newest tragedy is unveiled.

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