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The spelling of my name is a very Ghetto spelling. I welcome them both, and never want to be separated from either of them for as long as white supremacy exists. Anderson .Paak once said in a 2016 interview, when

Tattoos were invented by brown and Black people centuries—even millennia—before white supremacy became the dominant global paradigm.

You’ve taken the time, done your research, and decided on your tattoo. You’ve saved up money and investigated tattoo shops for the perfect artist to mark your design. You’re excited, nervous, and eager to get started. But the tattooer takes one look at you and says, “Your skin tone is a problem.” Never mind that you’ve seen tattoos on dark skin, and with color no less. Hell, your brown or Black self has beautiful color tattoos which have stood the test of time. Yet here is this artist you respected, admired, and sought out to give them a lot of money to tattoo you, and they’re looking at you like you dragged dog shit into the place. Suddenly you feel sick to your stomach—and not from tattoo nerves. You’ve just been skin-shamed. As a heavily tattooed biracial Sri Lankan American woman, this scenario has played out for me again and again, in context of almost every single tattoo artist with whom I’ve ever consulted. Worse, even brown tattooers who are covered head to foot in designs have frowned at my skin and played that I’m going to be really difficult to tattoo. I’ve had to put my foot down, explain how my particular melanin works and what colors will stick, and hope for the best. Or walk out and start researching artists from scratch.

The use of mental health or disability status to perpetuate anti-Black violence and dodge accountability is not only incredibly violent, but morally irresponsible.

Conversations about mental health and how it affects our lives is something that is picking up steam both in social justice-oriented circles and in the world at large. From hashtags to publications, people are beginning to redefine how they interact with and define their mental health. The push for normalizing mental health challenges and struggles is powerful to see. However, it is all too common to see mental health weaponized to continue oppression. In particular, this tactic is used to perpetuate anti-Blackness, especially in social justice-oriented circles. So what exactly does weaponizing mental health look like? It comes in many forms that can range from insidious to innocuous in nature. It can look like a white or non-Black person of color using their mental health or mental health-related terminology such as triggers to dodge accountability from other oppression.

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