Trauma Informed Awareness Day Youth Takeover: Flashbacks

May 24, 2023


by Nelly

As she walks down the street,

She can no longer feel

The same warmth of the atmosphere she used to feel.

And the houses, the people, the plants are no longer the same. 

As she closes her eyes, she remembers the smell coming from the Mexican restaurant as she used to walk home from school,

Which reminds her of her hometown in her native land.

As the tears roll down her cheeks, she embraces the anger, the fear and despair 

That the luxury of the privileged people causes her to feel,

And equals her family’s displacement. 

As she looks around, and recognizes that she is standing on the unfamiliar, inhospitable land,

She clenches her knuckles, and her heart skips a beat

Every time a desperate thought passes through her mind. 

Crushed and hopeless, she slowly sits down on the refreshing grass and closes her eyes,

And the wounding memories suddenly appear.

She recalls being five and going to the park near her house with her parents,

Watching squirrels, chasing dogs, playing on the playground.

She recalls being ten and going to the same movie theater that was just a walk away.

Her school friends and she gather at the same time outside before the movies starts to buy ice cream from the paletero.

She recalls being happy and free,

Living in the cozy little house with a little garden that her grandmother started back when she was still young.

As she opens her eyes,

She no longer feels the presence of joy in her life,

As the wretchedness of her displacement seems to confine her.

Frustrated and exhausted she stands up and wipes the tears from her cheeks.

The flame in her eyes sparks and she regains strength in her legs,

As she realizes that there isn’t a thing

That she desires more than

Fighting for what she and thousands of her people find to be just.

And she gathers her thoughts and spirit,

And she walks away with a promise in her heart,

To strive to spark a change with all her might.

For Trauma Informed Awareness Day, based on the personal experience with housing instability, and on the work I’ve done as part of Palenque, and the self-reflections as part of the Bright Promises Youth Council, I decided to share a poem I wrote about the trauma that people affected by gentrification experience, as well as 2 photos, and a quote which are very representative of this issue. 

I love how these photos remind me of the significance of using collaborative powers within our communities to fight for affordable housing, which is an essential part of healing together as a community. Additionally, the quote is a straightforward representation of how essential having access to housing is to every single individual. 

Finally, the piece I wrote was a product of my inspiration after doing research about the effects of gentrification on the people’s quality of life, and how it contributes to the formation of trauma. This experience is especially painful for people whose families had lived in the house for several generations, before they were unjustifiably displaced.

My personal experience with housing instability, which I really got the opportunity to process through the self-reflections as part of the Bright Promises Youth Council, was also a major part of my inspiration for this poem. I believe that while healing from the damage the unequitably distributed resources have delivered to our communities, we need to make sure we continue to fight for affordable housing, to ensure that every single person has an affordable, stable, and dignified housing, as it is essential to human flourishing. 

“Housing is a human right. There can be no fairness or justice in a society in which some live in homelessness, or in the shadow of that risk, while others cannot even imagine it.”
― Jordan Flaherty, Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six