Peanut Butter Sandwich
I feel that the essence of healing trauma is to be pluralistic about it; that trauma-healing relies on an intersection of modalities.
When I think of my experience of trauma, I reflect on "intersectionality" and the ways that Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, who so aptly put a name to the ways marginalized identities and experiences interweave and ripple out with each other, leaving us feeling constantly unsafe, in fear, anxious, etc, the complex web of, what I think as, "emotional intersectionality."
Why peanut butter? is a seemingly simple but complex question for me. When I decided to write the first post about peanut butter, I was reminded that it was not part of my upbringing. I was birthed into a low social class family. Peanut butter sandwich is something only "rich kids" would bring to school, a not-so-significant highlight of going through an education system segregated not only by "intelligence" but mostly social class or more definitely economic class. Rich kids got to eat peanut butter in fancy plastic (harmful) containers during recess while the rest of us settled for canteen food, schmoozing the chef to give us more each time. For my family, peanut butter was a luxury.
Around 6 to 7 years ago, I met an elder who conveyed his troubles about the world with me. He was speaking to the loneliness that he feels about today's world. In the midst of recollection his childhood in the UK, he lamented about the absence of stories of upbringing. He said that people used to gather and ask each other about their upbringing stories. Through these snippets of family life, folks got to connect, bond, and develop deeper understanding. Needless to say, I have carried this story with me on deep contemplation. Why don't we ask about each other's upbringing? And what about the fact that racism can be embedded into the ways we ask people about their upbringing?
Questions of curiousity, such as "where are you from?"
Zoom that to today. The question now conjures up our implicit biases and most of us are unaware of these biases until pointed out. I used to ask the same question to white folks, because I was curious. I was interested in white culture because mine was "exotic, oriental, and spicy", according to white people. I wondered what kind of flavour white people would be for us people-of-colour?
My father fed me my first peanut
It hurt my tender tooth when I bit on it
The same way my heart hurt when my father
bit on my innocence with lashes
I did not scream
for I was supposed to enjoy the hurt
the way a "man" would
the way a "person-of-colour" would
the way a "poor person" would
the way a "child" would
For 17 years, I chased after my father
Finding every opportunity I could
To hunt for those delicious peanuts
Even though it hurts me to taste them
So I can share a conversation with him
A tea, the newspaper, an observation of his battered
All for a "how are you doing, kid?"
Peanut Butter is a
faux safety sign
And I feel creamily
with my teeth