You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in the court of law.
Justicia y paz. (Justice and peace) No Justice, no peace…
This reflection on truth-telling, knowing when to share and when not to share, is one of many downloads from these dark days of the winter solstice. Through rematriation, colonialism, climate disaster and pandemic, silence and me have built a deep understanding.
Justicia y paz is a greeting between spirits disincarnate and incarnate. Concepts that transcend time, space, dimensions. They know, in a brief visit here to deliver a message, that these concepts are hella distorted on Earth. They come in justice, they come in peace, for those who come benevolently, and they wish us these very things.
Earthly conversations be a whole tribunal. Everyone speaks a different language and not just because we come from different places. People’s different perspectives and levels of awareness got the same languages sounding foreign. Various versions of the truth, a spectrum of realities, both accepted and resisted, sometimes render conversations impossible. Casual conversations become spaces for “resume-reading” (as my love calls it). Folks listing their credentials like they need to convince others (themselves really) of their right to take up space, their right to speak, be heard.
Years back, I anxiously awaited my turn to speak. Raged at being interrupted when I finally got the courage to do so. Shouted to be heard. My father always said, “el que no grita, no se oye.” This year I let my family know that I’m done with shouting to be heard. With the dynamics of life as of late, I sometimes only have energy for a whisper. If I must battle for it to be heard, I’d rather not speak. I was once desperate to be heard. Not being heard is the same as invisibility. A large part of my work is bringing visibility. This part about hearing however plays out a little differently.
I am no longer desperate to be heard or seen, having learned to fully see and hear myself. I now require reciprocal exchanges. If they are not mutual, I can excuse myself. Years back, I persisted in unsafe spaces, not entirely aware of better possibilities and the right to bring these into existence. Today I know the difference between staying, committing to do this work, and exiting when the work will be rendered impossible by others, sometimes your own people.
Conversations coopted by subconscious ulterior motives running rampant from unhealed wounds. Concepts left in the air with no response because the other person isn’t ready to receive or hear something you’ve shared. Or simply they don’t agree and aren’t willing to engage in discussion. Other times they are needing to assert themselves as initiator, the TV host who asks the questions and decides which points they can permit on air, which to edit, which to censor. All curated to protect their vulnerability, suppress triggers, and present them always as expert, cool, calm, collected. All this containing any possibility towards expanding conscious understanding. All this stifling the true purpose of conversing.
Though we’ve been warned that silence is complicit, won’t protect us, silence is sometimes a strategy. Since childhood, I knew there were things I could not share. Incriminating details of survival strategies maybe. Or intimate thoughts of my own mind and spirit that would not be heard or understood. It is when I discovered journaling. In early adolescence, I discovered painting. It was my way of reflecting on the outside world, the environment, and especially justicia y paz, or the lack thereof. But writing was making sense of my inner world. The darkness I alone had to process. The shit I could not admit. The pain no one had time for cause they were processing their own shit. Writing was salvation. In the chaos of colonized lineages screaming to speak, silence was rebellion. In a world of conquest where we live incessantly under siege, forced to survive clandestinely, policed by our loved ones, policed by our own selves: silence is safety.
So, I developed this practice of writing to remain silent. Write without the threat of persecution, without judgment. Write freely for me and my own healing. Despojarme de estos pensamientos dolorosos, rabiosos. Get that shit out my body. Writing as ceremony, as cleanse, as healing. Writing as medicine. Writing as liberatory.
Witnessing the spirits transition out of the bodies of loved ones; knowing the battle of a last breath; pushing out life into my home and hearing the cry of a first breath: breath is precious. The complex unit of energy, of life pulse that is a breath is not to be wasted. Like the pain of speaking words of spiritual labor into a vacuum of lovelessness.
In my love/ hate relationship with all things social media, I admit a blog becomes a refuge. A place to curate and release selected writings. Words unread sting less than words spoken to another soul, unheard. Words written and released is a subversion of silence. Release, engage those willing to commit to read, see, understand. Liberate yourself from another expected outcome, response, gesture, expression. The freedom to state what must be stated while maintaining the tranquility of one’s silence. A safety from engaging with those stifling truths not theirs because all is deemed a threat. An opportunity to process and absorb the lessons, the messages without the pressure of working at someone else’ pace or tailoring to someone else’s level of understanding.
I write this in full awareness of the devolution of human conversation and connection and how my choosing to opt out periodically might make me complicit. But yo, survival is a necessity and thrival is the mission. When every conversation becomes a battle, we have already burned ourselves to the ground. Many of us do this without ever having made it to the real battlefield. Extinguished by the impossible feat of fighting our own selves. And because the planet is still doing war in 2023, it forces those of us working for justice and peace to inevitably engage in war strategies. We must enter battles strategically. Not waste precious energy and resources on what won’t bear fruit, not walk willingly into an ambush. Strategic silence, and the occasional practice of writing to subvert it, become necessary.
Brooklyn-born and raised, Yasmín Hernández rematriated to her ancestral homeland of Borikén in 2014. Her practice as an artist, writer, activist is rooted in these islands and their Diasporas, our suppressed histories, healing, and liberation. CucubaNación in Mayagüez is Yasmin’s art/ community space dedicated to Boricua bioluminescence. She shares her art at yasminhernandezart.com and chronicles the journey home at rematriatingboriken.com .