When Fear Dances with Stereotype

I am awake, I am alive, although truth be told, I am still immersed in the feelings invoked by last night’s dream, a vivid reminder of just how potent a combination results when personal fear teams up with stereotype.

Case in point – those that follow my career, know I am a 10-year domestic abuse survivor. I have done my healing work. I do not see men as the enemy, nor do I assume them all to be problematic. I let the abusive carry that burden on their own.

But, as a result of my personal history, there are certain things that make me nervous. For context, women who have experienced domestic violence were suddenly faced with a partner “they did not recognize”, having been led to believe that the man they loved was anything but the monster now threatening them. Thanks to that experience – lies, half-truths, conversations or diction that do not match the persona presented as truth – all those things set off warning bells for me, as my mind quickly scans the information and my references to determine if a threat exists.

Such a conversation happened last night, with a man I did not know, who presented himself in one way, but common sense implied something very different. Not negative other than different from what he had said he did or where he said he was from, but enough for me to notice. I was on guard.

The conversation was short and late, so bedtime followed shortly after. It was in the early hours that the nightmare began. A man of an incredibly misunderstood descent, married to a friend of mine, father to a friend of my son (who was a child in the dream). My normal outspokenness quickly painted me as a threat, as a woman who “did not know her place”. I will not go into the horrors that followed. Suffice to say that all were intentional – to teach me silence, respect, and subservience.

With morning light, my logical brain returned. I know men of this culture – good, respectful men of absolutely no threat to me but here I sit, still shaken by the dream as I now begin moving the experience from dream to useful information. Trust that I will not soon forget this experience. Trust that I am well aware of not only how many stereotypes exist, defaming so many groups, but of just how many adults are afraid, and they are not just women.

The journey continues. Today, my unpacking and unlearning will continue, fueled by a dream that I very much needed to have. Such is the work we must all do these days, as communities and countries attempt to embrace diversity. We must look at our fear of others through a rational, intelligent mind. We must unpack the stereotypes we carry, often inherited, often based on coffee shop mistruths and misguided hate speech of present or past eras.

Why? Because stereotypes are inaccurate at best and deadly at their worst. Personally, I am not the Indigenous stereotype in so many ways. Perhaps I am in others. I have family who are and aren’t. I would assume the same can be said for any man or woman of any culture or ethnicity.

But fear must not be projected on the innocent based on accent or melonin levels. We must keep clear in our minds the fact that the stereotypes are the problem, not the humans they attempt to pigeon-hole.

I love you, my friend.

#ibelieveinyou #ibelieveinme #icreatesafespace #repairingfeathers #celebrateandsurvive