Generations of Trauma, Generations of Change
Posted on May 26, 2021
Ive been pretty numb lately and have been compartmentalizing a lot of the pain and trauma in the moment. I’m reminded by my somatic practice that these are actually important human survival superpowers that protect ourselves and keep us going in these times.
But Collin is also always a great reminder of my humanity and what it is to be alive and feel. From being misunderstood, picked on by other kids to the racist and fascist history of our country, Collin feels things (most things) very deeply. This is his superpower.
In this moment of hyper visibility of anti-Asian violence, I’ve been keeping it chill on sharing and “educating” him about oppression in the United States. He already knows because he’s living it. In fact, his generation of little ones have lived through Trump and took that red pill early. At such a young age, he stresses out about many things already.
Last month, on our spring break trip in San Diego, we spent the day at Balboa Park and went to the Nature Museum and Air and Space Museum. The Nature Museum was smooth. But we got to the Air and Space Museum, things started to unravel. First, it was, “Why do all the planes have missiles and bombs?!” and then there was, “Why did the US want to kill the Vietnamese, my ancestors?” I wasn’t trying to spend my Saturday doing political education on war and militarism so I re-directed and asked, “What would you and your friends want, war or peace?” The conclusion was, “Kids are smarter than adults because we all want peace.” That did it. Whew.
I wasn’t trying to spend my Saturday doing political education on war and militarism so I re-directed and asked, “What would you and your friends want, war or peace?” The conclusion was, “Kids are smarter than adults because we all want peace.”
THEN as the museum was about to close (literally they asked us to leave) and he saw at the very corner of his eye a very provocative video of airplanes flying and blowing things up and said, “Baba, what is that??” I tried to downplay it. “Oh, those are just some planes in a war.” In a louder voice he asked, “What war? And who are THEY!! (ie Hitler and Nazis). I was really trying to not get into it but he just kept pressing, “Who are those people??”
So I got into it and it was a moment. I explained who the Nazis were (and the Japanese too) and what the Nazi’s stood for… He got SO enraged and hurt like I’ve never seen before. He immediately began shouting, “why would they think that?? Cant they see I’m Asian??” Lifting up his hands and showing me the color of his skin. “Why do they think that they are better than us???”
Tbh I was pretty off my game and was trying to de-escalate and exit the museum. There were harsh words about what he would do to Nazis. It was deep. And at that moment I made the choice to surrender, I just let him feel it all. I also started feeling his feels as a little 6 year old who is so passionate and empathetic. How it must be living in these times. How do we channel all our righteous rage and anger??
And at that moment I made the choice to surrender, I just let him feel it all. I also started feeling his feels as a little 6 year old who is so passionate and empathetic.
We eventually got to a better place that included a more transformative path. Since jails are bad… he came up with a school for Nazis to be kinder to people. Then this continued with drawing space ships to destroy Nazi ships (he’s into transformers right now.)
I could go on but here are some lessons…
Lesson 1: parenting is hella political and is essentially political labor especially as the world get more and more hectic and complex. I never know exactly what is age appropriate and if I’m doing it “right.” Parenting has taught me a ton of self compassion and humility. PROPS to all the parents, guardians, caretakers and educators!
- Lesson 2: There is a lot of trauma! Trauma from war and militarism. Trauma from state violence. Trauma from each other. Trauma from a young age. I’m taking this time to unlearn and relearn from the bold abolitions movements to reimagine and transform society. Check out this resource hub that was just launched!
- Lesson 3: There’s a lot in this moment about restorative justice and healing and it is daunting to think about. But after listening to this “Lady Don’t Take No” podcast episode, I was inspired. It is not “healing” per se but finding, struggling and building a path forward to our collective liberation.
Right now, my somatic work is learning how to create choice for myself. Letting myself CHOOSE to feel or stay numb. And this is not a theoretical exercise but something I practice everyday in my parenting and my politics. For me, it opens up the possibilities to transform generations of trauma to generations of change.
Note: To all my San Diego homies, we were keeping it COVID safe on this trip but will hangout the next time around!