I walk the streets of Japan till I get lost because it doesn’t remind me of anything.
Triggers and Painful Memories
This song bumps hard—hell, Chris Cornell’s voice has always moved me. From the first time I heard Black Hole Sun to when I Am the Highway played on repeat all day to help get me through one of my toxic office jobs.
Plus, this late musician shares a name with my son and my father.
My father was gunned down when I was only 7 years old. Many years later, my brother met a similar end. My twin sister called me that morning. I stood outside my dorm on a very white college campus and performed black grief.
To Love a Black Man
Why is being born a black man equivalent to being given a death sentence?
I decided from an early age that I would never love a black man. That way, I would never have to worry about losing someone that I loved to violence.
That way, if I saw something on the news about a black man being shot, I’d have enough emotional distance. No more trauma.
So when my son Chris was born, I reminded myself that although he is a little boy right now, he will grow up to be a black man. Mexiblack, Blaxican, biracial, mixed—he’s still black.
But when I look at him, I’m not reminded of anything. Or anyone. His hair is unique, his skin tone is one that I’ve never seen before.
In the morning I love to watch my husband Javier sleeping next to our son. I’ve never seen a Mexican man embrace a half-black, half-Mexican baby. The sight doesn’t remind me of anything.
Trailblazing: A Treatment for Trauma?
Maybe grief is what pushes me to try to be different. To do things that I’ve never done before. New experiences can help us repress, relieve. But some of us are never allowed to forget.
No one likes to be reminded of unpleasant things. But when that “unpleasant thing” is your own racial identity, placing distance becomes difficult. I can’t make myself lighter. I can’t erase my skin, my blackness.
I do like to forget that I’m black and remember that I’m “Errol” first. When I’m studying Japanese or watching my husband Javier speaking Spanish to our son Chris.
When I recall the stories behind my skin, sometimes I’m filled with pride. Other times grief.
We all have painful memories that we can’t forget.
But it’s always nice to do things that don’t remind us of anything.
Listening to Bad Bunny’s Si Veo A Tu Mamá over and over, connecting with strangers on LinkedIn, or writing non-erotic fanfiction (brownie points if you get the SNL reference).