When I was a child, I lived in a house where I was told that what goes on it, stays in it. We were not to discuss with anyone the workings or happenings of our home life. We were also not permitted to talk about it with our parents because children were to be “seen and not heard.” We were not to ask questions, to seek after justice or to challenge lies but were often told to “stay in a child’s place.” What this communicates is that a child’s voice is not valuable, her experience is not noteworthy and that children have no rights that an adult is bound to respect. They are invisible until one chooses to see them for one reason or another.
Even as adults, we don’t talk about our treatment as children even though it has shaped who we are and malformed us in some places. It’s still not respectful or polite or appropriate to talk about what went on in our house. It’s still no body’s business. It’s still not our place. But, how long? How long do we pretend that we have nothing to say about what is being said about us? Does there ever come a time when we have a say in our lives and the social forces that are acting upon it? Or, do we simply trade one cloak of invisibility for another more age appropriate one?
Maybe this is why we don’t talk about race. What we say in our community as socially colored people, brown/ red/ yellow/ beige/ white/ black, about race and incidents that are racially informed or incited stay there. It’s none of their business. It’s not our place. It won’t make a difference anyhow because we, too, see ourselves as invisible in one way or another because of race. We are also seen and not heard.
No one wants to talk about it. Even after all these years, we remain in this American “house of bondage,” a society stuck in its childhood memory and position. Shhh.