Families often have strong defense mechanisms when it comes to their portrayal outside of the home. They fight to maintain a strong face and record for their friends and other parts of the family. When you’re forced into that old tradition of staying quiet and avoiding saying too much you keep that negative energy stored inside of you and it builds resentment towards them … another no no.
Censorship is a large and forever building issue when it comes to families of color. Apart from my own household, I have seen similar scenarios spawn in friends’ households as well. You’re free to say what you’d like online about whoever, but as soon as family enters the equation everything has to change … why?
Because of my autism, I don’t hold many emotional attachments to what I write, although I still care deeply about whatever I choose to write about. When it comes to family I feel something. I have been through so much with them. I have something to say and I’d like to say it, but sometimes the pressure and fear of what others might think — fear that doesn’t come from me — are overwhelming and make you think about whether you want to create a rupture within your family. I’m supposed to stay marginalized within the family, so when I try to speak my truth and help some people who read my work relate to what I write, my family puts a hand over my mouth.
I didn’t ever think my family would dislike what I write. Not to say they hated my original piece because they had to know some if it was true, but when you write something strong that airs out family occurrences you have to be ready for possible backlash. Backlash was something I was ready for, and if I wasn’t then I needed to be, but perhaps my family wasn’t. They weren’t ready for the public to understand how I felt, resulting in a rather strong censorship.
Instead of being angry, which I undoubtedly am, I need to be thoughtful; I need to stand my ground and take responsibility. I hurt some people and I’m sorry that it ended up that way, but I cannot change how I feel or how they take it. I’ve learned that when you have taken too much within your home you don’t have to continue — you can and should voice how you feel. But you also must understand how the people around you might feel, and if you feel as though your feelings and opinions are still strong, then you push forward and deal with the consequences — a bravery I wish I had.
Families are complex. You work and confront things as a collective, but if that has proven to be unsuccessful then we have to take a different look at things. Writing is my outlet for my feelings and having my writing suppressed has changed my outlook on how I deal with my family in any setting moving forward. Use your voice, and if your family comes around and sees how you feel then their unconditional love for you should hold the bond together. If not, perhaps what you said or want to say truly needs to be heard.