A Dreamer. I’ve always been one, even well before I knew being labeled a “dreamer” was actually a cool thing. As an adult, you soon learn how the term is often applicable to the type of person that is also ambitious, future-oriented, innovative and open-minded. Sounds fancy right?! Before I could fathom adding any of that to my own personal resume, I was just the girl sitting in my elementary school class staring out the window visualizing all the things that I enjoyed the most.
Having tea parties with my sisters who were away at college. Playing “church” with my cousin, whom I’d always make sure was another mouth to feed on a Sunday afternoon. Riding my bike down the sketchy, rocky alley of my inner city neighborhood. **Laughs to self. I wasn’t scared of anything! Growing up in North St. Louis where drug needles were frequently found in our front yard and “abandoned” homes were a staple fixture in the neighborhood, I found myself de-sensitized by the things that others may have known to be dangerous.
But interestingly enough, I found myself then and even now most afraid of the dreams that occur when my eyes are shut. Some people laugh when I tell them that I literally dream EVERY single night. And let’s be clear, they ALL aren’t scary. Lately, however, I have had a few Armageddon’s here or there and just last week I jumped off a cliff again. I’ve had that dream so many times now that I don’t get scared anymore!
I can recall writing them down as soon as I’d awaken, most of the time with beads of sweat dripping down my face. I didn’t realize till I became an adult that my dreams, often times, were a direct reflection of the things I was experiencing in my own life, or that were occurring around me.
Three months ago, I was jarred from my sleep with a shirt soaking wet. I had to pinch myself, just as a reminder that I was no longer dreaming. With tears in my eyes, I realized that I had been crying. Hard. With yesterday’s mascara smudged all over my face to prove it. My stomach was still uneasy, and as I leaned over to the side of the bed I grabbed my faithful “Dream Journal” to begin writing everything that I could remember.
I started writing in what I like to call my “Dream Journal” as a way to possibly try and make sense of my dreams the next morning. I utilized every source one could think of – the Bible, Google, friends/family or an elder mother from my church. Whatever or whomever at the time I felt could help me make sense of things. Because you know, the person that I am tries to make sense of EVERYTHING, often driving those around me crazy…including my boyfriend.
But I digressed didn’t I?! My apologies. Any who, as I began to write I could feel the hairs from my arms stand at attention and a queasiness in my stomach that told me the magnitude of how real the dream felt. I stopped several times, in disbelief at the extent of my detail.
So I continued to write…
I was outside on what looked to be a football field, similar to one I had seen before in college. A significantly smaller one however, that was closer to the size of my African-American parochial high school’s lot. I remember standing by myself, on a warm summer’s night wearing my short shorts and a camisole that flattered my tiny, petite frame. The stands looked scarce and the game, which I am assuming occurred, appeared to have ended. Most of the people had left, however, there were still a few students lingering in the stands and around on the field. As I stood inhaling the fresh air, I skimmed the field watching the people as I’d enjoy doing from time to time. Some faces were familiar as they were possibly classmates, dorm mates or random people I apparently knew. I say this because, at not one point did I feel like I was totally alone. There was at least SOMEBODY (particularly a P.O.C.) in my presence that I felt would recognize who I was as I would them.
A rustle in the grass behind me startled my thoughts as I turned around and saw a group of young men a few feet away. None of them looked familiar, but they appeared to be gazing in my direction. I suddenly began to feel very unsure of myself and my whereabouts, looking around franticly only to realize that the scarce crowd within minutes had dwindled down to a faithful few. A faithful few that at that point included just myself, the group of weirdos behind me and a group of guys whom I was familiar with standing adjacent of me. As I looked over my shoulder again I realized the guys were walking towards my direction and began to circle in around me. Quickly at that! I didn’t know what to do.
One would’ve thought (and yes, I questioned it myself when I had awaken) that I would’ve immediately ran but there I stood in the dream, paralyzed and helpless for a few initial seconds. But once I realized what they were trying to do, I panicked and immediately went into survival mode, kicking, fighting and screaming. Their strength overpowered me in a way where all I could do was just give in to whatever was to occur. I can’t recall everything once they successfully removed my pants exposing my slim frame, but by that time you can imagine I was shaking vigorously in fear.
I do, however, remember one thing. In fact, it was probably the most vivid part of the dream I could recall. To this day, it still haunts me and brings tears to my eyes. As the young men began to drag me closer to the bleachers searching for a more inconspicuous space, I looked to my right into the eyes of the group of men. The group that were familiar to me, some I’d refer to ethnically as “bruthas,” who were just standing there and watching me scream to the top of my lungs begging for them or someone to help me. They simply stood there, as spectators, watching as the guys pulled my under garments down attempting to violate me in a way that no one could ever be prepared for.
Without thinking twice, I furiously began to yell repeatedly, “my big brothers would’ve NEVER let this happen! You hear me! Never!”
And you better believe, I meant every word of it. I continued to yell those words, until I was jolted from my nightmare. Tears, began to pour down my face. I was angry and hurt, but most of all I was disappointed. My heart ached, my chest tightened, and when I looked down at the palms of my hands I had gripped a fist so tight that my acrylic nail prints had left a red bruise in my palms.
One, because I realized in my case, that this was merely a dream. But to imagine, there ARE women (millions) who have lived a similar experience like this as their REALITY and it breaks my heart into pieces. A moment where, they too, had to fight for their life to protect their temple, to protect their womanhood or maybe to protect loved ones around them. And in my dream, it was people I did not know, however, often times victims of domestic violence and rape find their predators to be the opposite – people that they actually know like family, friends or acquaintances. This dream served as a wakeup call and reminder that sexual abuse is REAL and is STILL HAPPENING! To our loved ones, our friends, colleagues, or people that we may simply cross paths with in life.
Two, where were my friends?!! Why was I alone after dark? Why would I have even put myself in that predicament? When I was actually a student in college, my circle of friends vowed we would always use the buddy system after a former classmate was found dead on campus due to domestic violence. We were horrified to say the least and decided to always make sure we traveled in pairs and were aware of one another’s whereabouts.
“But, why would I put myself in that position?” I frustratingly asked myself. Sometimes, as women we can be so hard on ourselves and are conditioned by society to always take the fall for bad things happening to us, giving excuses to those that don’t deserve it. Even though I made a careless decision in my dream, it still doesn’t negate the fact that what was done to me was WRONG and should’ve never happened regardless of my circumstances, be that I was alone or not.
Lastly, what hurt the most was looking the men, the BLACK men (to identify the elephant in the room), in the eyes that stood and watched, but did NOTHING! Interestingly enough, in the dream, I connected their representation/role in my life similar to a brother – someone in my family or in my village. Someone(s) I considered as MY people – bloodline or not.
As a child, I was blessed enough to have strong black men in my life, whom I was taught to identify as my protector or my provider. He is the person who is going to advocate for me and fight on my behalf as I would for him. And even though the black men in the group of “familiar” faces did no harm to me, their failure to be a part of the resolution, by default, made them a part of the problem. Their silence hurt more than the attack itself.
Coincidentally enough, I do acknowledge the similarities of the circumstances to the representation of the black man linking as far back to his role in slavery. In which, often times placed in him in powerless positions that forced him to witnessed violence (mentally and physically) and sexual abuse of black women for others’ personal gain and/or pleasure.
I can only imagine that my female ancestors felt the same way – disappointed, violated but most of all alone, asking the hard question, “Who’s going to protect me now?!” Maybe that’s why as women we feel like we have to be EVERYTHING. The father. The mother. The provider. The nurturer. We have been conditioned to fill in those gaps that are lacking within the structure of our lives for ourselves and families.
I find it heavy on my heart that, even today, I can’t definitively say that we as black people are totally free and have gained back all of our power. I witness daily how systematic oppression structurally and politically continues to marginalize our people in ways that render us powerless. But even knowing this, I still have hope. I still believe that we have made great strides for the liberation of black people by creating a voice, and making loud, bold statements that can impact our lives and the lives of others in a major way.
Earlier, I stated that I enjoy finding meaning in life and understanding these “visions” I reflect upon. One of my main takeaways, was the importance of protecting our village. This includes men AND women. It was not to bash or condemn my black men, but is a reminder that we need each other. We can no longer live in fear and sit back, allowing certain things to happen to OUR people. In the world we live in, experiencing the Sandra Blands’, the Mike Browns’, the Colin Kaepernicks’, we are learning that we are a FORCE when we stick together.
So tell me this, do you chose to be silent and merely spectate or are jumping in to fight? Black Panther leader, Eldridge Cleaver once stated, “You’re either part of the solution or you are part of the problem.”