Journey to unsilencing my voice; by Sandrine Ndahiro
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
"The moment I let go of my fears of being silenced the more I felt free as I understood the importance of hearing narratives from those that had been silenced for so long"...
The last few weeks have been overwhelming, to say the least. If you would have told first-year me that I would one day be in a comfortable stage in my life that I would freely talk about the racist experiences I would not have believed you. Since if I moved to Ireland in 2006, I have been made aware of my blackness from a young age. Racist experiences would continuously happen whether they were casual racism, micro-aggressive, or subtle racism they all had left me crippling with fear of speaking out. I went through the motion of life of thinking that my blackness was something that would inherently leave me permanently silent. I started finding my voice slowly when I enrolled in an elective in college called Introduction to Contemporary African Literature in English. Taking that class, I found a new sense of power and love from my African background and I started to enjoy all the complexities of being Afro-Irish. Finally, I was celebrating and learning more about my duality. My newfound of self-made me more confident to call out racism that I experienced. When I would experience any instance of racism, I no longer remained silent I would stand my ground and call it out. By calling out I saw that I was making some of my non- Black friends uncomfortable as I started to convince myself that maybe I was too sensitive and returned to being silent. This all changed again on May 25th, 2020 with the senseless killing of George Floyd. I was paralyzed with a mixture of emotions which all ranged from anger, sadness but the one that stood out the most was frustration. I soon began to understand that these emotions also resonated with other members within the Black and Irish communities. I made a promise that I was never going to remain silent ever again when it comes to the issue of racism. I began confronting all the memories tainted by racism that I had made sure to suppress. When I started talking about my experiences the more, I realized the power in my voice. The moment I let go of my fears of being silenced the more I felt free as I understood the importance of hearing narratives from those that had been silenced for so long for something that was out of my control. Voice equals power. I vow to never remain silent when it comes to the issue of racism again. My voice matters.