By Imani Barbarin: For More Info, Go Here…
For a while, I couldn’t think of what to say about the suicide of young Seven Bridges. In the days after hearing of his death, I couldn’t quite pinpoint the feeling I was experiencing. I knew I was sad, I was crying frequently in my office, but there was something else, something beyond sadness, it was both dread and relief. Dread, because Seven’s experience was remarkably similar to my own, and I had nearly followed the same path. And relief, which I am ashamed to say because I had had the opportunity to get out of those dark thoughts.
On January 23, 2019, it was reported that ten-year-old Seven Bridges took his own life after being severely bullied by fellow students and treated differently by school staff once his parents advocated on his behalf. The mixture ableism and racism he experienced proved too much to bear. His parents would often find him crying uncontrollably in bed and would do their best to comfort him with the thought he would be changing schools soon, but still Seven died.
Upon his death spreading across social media, many people who use colostomy bags shared pictures of themselves wearing them under the hashtag #BagsOutForSeven. Many felt a sense of hope in the representation it was created, but felt like something was missing. Seven Bridges wasn’t just disabled, he was also Black. To speak just about his disability undermines our ability to see the complete picture of his existence, including the joy, the pain, and challenges.
Often in disability circles, disabled Black people, Indigenous people and others of color are tone policed when the topic if race comes up. There seems to be this desire to maintain the part line of “we’re all marginalized, so why does it matter.” It matters—it did so very much in Seven Bridges’ life. I’ve heard people lament the fact that he was bullied over his colostomy bag, but not that he was choked and called racial slurs.