The fact that Patton identifies as a member of a group that has been traumatized leads me to Trauma studies, and the word “trauma” as an exclusive state of being. Richard Crownshaw, in a chapter entitled “Trauma Studies,” explains the history behind the field. Trauma, he writes “can be defined as that which denies witnessing, cognition, conscious recall and representation- generation the belated or deferred and disruptive experience of the event not felt at the time of witnessing” (167). Trauma is stored in a collective cultural memory, from historical events and acts of witnessing, and manifests in a contagious, unlocatable, reoccurrence within individuals. Crowns haw goes on to describe the hegemonic conception of traumas; different traumas across cultures may be placed in dialogue with one another, but some traumas are recognized as such, and others overlooked.

Because of the not-that-long-ago history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the conquest of the Americas, the Jim Crow era, genocide of Indigenous peoples, sexual violence against women of color, and continued mass-incarceration and slaughter of Black and brown people, people of color should be allowed to claim trauma as something they experience. However, after “whitesplaining” and derailing, white people also enjoy controlling the meaning of words and historical narratives. While the holocaust and sexual assault of white women and other atrocities that happen to white people get to be called traumatic, no “trigger warnings” are afforded to Black viewers when the video of Walter Scott’s murder is shown repeatedly on television and social media.

In a post entitled “About Images of Black Death and the Groundhog Day of Police Brutality” blogger Luvvie critiques the huge number of images depicting Black death and pain on the internet for viewing, saying that they are hurting more than they are helping. She writes “[d]id these pictures come with trigger warnings? Not often. People trigger warning EVERYTHING now. *trigger warning* GLUTEN AND SUGAR. But shit. Trigger warning THIS. Trigger warning the fact that a trigger from a cop has taken another Black person’s life. It seems that a Black person dying is no longer graphic enough to warrant a warning.”

She goes on to describe the trauma that she felt after being inundated with the images and videos of dead Black people; “I had to check out because I am not a “Strong Black Woman.” I bleed. I cry. I hurt. I am reminded of the timeless words of Joan Morgan in her classic, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: ‘The original “STRONGBLACKWOMEN” and her alleged “super strength was a myth created by whites to rationalize their brutality'” 

@bad_dominicana and @ChiefElk, Twitter Killjoys, both discuss trigger warnings. @bad_dominicana, an Afro-Latina, is a fierce critic who focuses her tweets on racism and neocolonialism in the US, mostly within activist circles and in other spaces she occupies, virtual or physical. In a tweet on April 9th, she explained that her bio says TW 24/7 ” coz its triggering shit all day every day. please mute, block, unfollow as needed. i will understand.”

@ChiefElk similarly has a “TW” in her bio, and, similarly to @bad_dominana, regularly posts about racism, with biting critiques of racists and hegemonic institutions. She focuses often on those people she interacts with (or interacts “at” her) online that are posers and tweet subtle (or overtly) hateful and problematic things.

 

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