We are not immune to our parents getting a divorce or to the fights that led up to it. We are not immune to the fact that we grew up with only one parent in our homes.
We are not immune to our father hitting our mom or to the fact that she stayed and let him do it. We are not immune to the fact that our mothers and fathers have had men and women in and out of our lives.
No, we just don't talk about it because nobody wants to. If we ask questions, we get yelled at.
Why? Because where we're from, people are more comfortable with expressing anger than the truth. So, we learned early on to not ask why and we certainly know not to bring up issues that touch nerves.
We are forced to be silent, whether intentionally or inadvertently, and now the rest of society frowns upon us.
Our silence has not been silent at all. No, we are crying out, but nobody hears us.
You see, they refer to girls like us as being promiscuous. People think that we are stupid because we fall for the wrong kind of guys. We give ourselves to them and they leave. They abuse us and we stay.
And guys like us? Well, they call us thugs and womanizers. People think that we are lowlifes because we don't respect authority and we mistreat women. We trust no one, so we stay in control. We commit to nothing, not even to finishing school, so we are never disappointed.
We are not immune to any of it. It's just that where we're from, we have to find a way to cope.
Therapy? That's not for people like us. They tell us all we need is the good Lord. "He'll be your counselor," they say. Around here, the church is the backbone of the community. No matter the trials we go through or issues we face, we just go to church.
The pastor's prayer line is the most therapy we get. That's nothing but a drug for us because as soon as our high comes down from church services, our reality is staring us right in the face.
Nobody wants to talk about it and we don't. We just wait until the next service.
To us, dysfunctional is a synonym for family. Do you know when the first time many of us ever had an adult man or woman to embrace us? It was while they used their bodies to hold us against their car as they placed the cuffs around our wrists.
We don't get to ask questions about the things that go on around us. We see it. They see it, but nobody deals with it.
Our voices are silenced, yet the language we create is deemed inappropriate and immoral. Can't you see that we weren't immune to any of it? Not talking about it didn't protect us from being affected by it.
We became what we saw. We repeated what we heard. We did what we knew to do. We reflected the language of our homes.
Don't frown upon us. We are willing to learn a new language.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.