In moonlight I cautiously walk through a hazy wood. The earth and air are dark and moist. I feel an odd tugging at my chest. As if my heart is iron and I have stepped over a magnet, I am pulled, chest-first, to the earth. In the earth is a soul trying to communicate with me. Guttural and inarticulate, there are no words—only sounds and pathos. The soul is sad and frustrated. I am also frustrated and pull away from the zombie’s weakening magnetism. I move on and the same thing happens again. Spindly, spirit fingers spiral around my chest cavity. My arms are free to catch my fall. The soul’s intent is not to hurt, but to be heard. It’s as inarticulate as the first soul, but angry rather than sad. If I don’t strain to listen, the pull weakens. It is a desperate death rattle of strained energy that is quickly spent. In this imploding landmine of unmarked graves I am soon pressed to the earth again. The third soul is passionate. Knowing I will only be pulled down again, I resign to communication.
Atavistically and telepathically I am begged to be a voice for the dying soul. “I cannot,” I say. “You must learn to speak.” As I realize I am dreaming and will soon awaken I worry about how the haunting feeling of disembodied souls tugging at me will affect me in consciousness. I lie in bed and can still feel pressure inside my ribs. But I don’t feel haunted as I, in the short period between dream and wake, feared I would. Why not? Earth-interred entities grabbed and pulled me to the ground to gurgle about their suffering. Why wouldn’t I be creeped out by this? Who are the suffering souls?
The zombies are parts of me. The earth is my own psyche. The message to find a voice is from my own subconscious. The emotive souls were hushed by outside authority, but is later I, who, for acceptance and approval and with proper passivity, chopped myself up and pressed the pieces into the dark, decaying dirt. The pieces didn’t want to be there. They wanted air and hoped by pulling me down I would pull them up. But I didn’t have the strength—the integrity.
Thoughts of speechless spirits steered my mind to Gospel music. I have been blown away by strong voices flooding a quiet building with top-decibel first notes and even found an involuntary tear silently running down my cheek. White folks might save those notes for a climax after several minutes of musical foreplay. In Gospel, all the pain, joy and pathos is loudly and proudly expressed in every note—even the first. In Japan, people pay to learn how to sing Gospel. What the students are learning is EXpression. Their hope is to get beyond polite REpression to liberate the buried. “Living dead” become “living” if the breath of expression inSPIR[IT]es them. It doesn’t matter if the resuscitated voice is unclear or unwelcome. Pressing pieces of a whole into the dirt, there to decay and die, means the whole is not integrated. It is disintegrated. Expression is INTEGRity.
How many wise and wonderful women have been buried alive so that the status quo of scarcity and suffering would be properly perpetuated? “Loose lips sink ships.” What are the ships that would be sunk if everyone had a voice? Why are so many socialized into silent submission? How are people—how was I—convinced to be tight-lipped as these oppressing ships continue to glide on a placid ocean? We think and communicate with words and if no one listens, we are invalidated. Validated voice is power. Oppressors know this and use pressure to silence the oppressed. This means opposing pressure has been applied. Validation of voice, for Blacks, has come partly come from fierce reaction to fierce oppression. “Spoiled white girls” like me are REpressed. This pressure is softer and often imperceptive. Its effectiveness is in repetition. The Women’s Suffrage- and Women’s Rights Movements came on the heels of the Abolition and the Civil Rights Movements. This is because repressed women heard the Black voice ring out and felt an involuntary tear of empathy. Women longed to join the choir that would help sink the silencing ship of racism and gender construct.