The word trauma has become common in today’s parlance even as research and understanding of this phenomenon and its impact has broadened and exploded in fields such as psychiatry and neurology. Trauma seems to be an epidemic, impacting societies in multidimensional ways, and can be broken down into three components: event, experience, and effect.

For Blacks living in America, trauma has been the invisible force we live, grow, and love with, for better or worse. It has eaten at our tables, slept in our beds, cloaked itself in our memories, and danced on our tongues and through our tears even as we have navigated survival and selfhood. We are a people deeply acquainted with the myriad realities of trauma, but that doesn’t mean that it has been easy to bear or that we have desired the systemic and oppressive structures that have welded weapons of trauma in our lives. Even still, we have always been resourceful, innovative, and creative. We have found ways to heal and be healed in community, drawing on the deep traditions that have resourced our spirits for generations, even before modern psychological tools of addressing trauma.

Black Table Talk is the collective experiential contribution of 12 artists who engaged in an emergent and communal process through Community Action of Greater Indianapolis ‘WE CANN C.H.A.T. (Culture, Heart, Art, & Talk Program. This process allowed them to reflect and investigate with one another the impact of trauma in our lives and
our communities and then create artwork that would inspire, challenge, and transform others using a healing-centered approach. For many of these artists, their art has already been rooted in this work, and Black Table Talk was an extension of their gifts. Their work presented in this series spans the gamut of addressing mass incarceration, environmental racism, gentrification, white body supremacy, poverty, discrimination, abuse, police brutality, food deserts, community disruption by white saviors, the stigmatization of black women, the stigmatization of mental illness, disparities in education, to thinking about the value of creating spaces of care, community healing, liberation, self-love, and empowerment.

In this process of sharing our stories through art, we learn that we are not alone, and ultimately, we begin to walk the long road of healing to return to the sanctuaries of our true selves. As the prolific writer and Black Table Talk artist, Maurice Broaddus writes so eloquently in his submitted short story, Dance of Myal: “Storytelling is a part of the healing process. It allows
opportunities for others to speak truth into your life. To walk alongside you and break through the loneliness. To access our hearts and end the dance of disconnectedness. I just had to learn to listen”

Yours in Community,
Manón Voice