Is There Space For My Joy? #balanceforbetter
Are you holding space for BIPOC joy?
Something that I’ve been reflecting on with what I share online primarily on Instagram is this concept of space. For me, space means there is room to express the whole of me; all facets, the good, the hard, the joy, the pain. No moulding, assimilation, conforming.
I want to be a playful content creator, I want to create that space for me and occupy it, and create more space for people like me to occupy too. I want to inspire more than aspire. Granted I’ve got finessing to do on skills like editing and filming, all yet to be honed, but I’m not half bad? *rhetorical, I’m not fishing for praise!* I’m getting some great brands contact me too. So what is bugging me?
Precisely this: It has taken me years, and in these recent months to really peel back the layers to understand what parts of societal and systemic oppression has put me at a disadvantage, and where I have an advantage too. What has become apparent is that when I talk about important race issues, I’m praised and shared. My tears and outrage on my experiences are amplified. I’m grateful to been seen because silence feels worse, and a happy by product is that it provokes some learning. But what about my joy? The play, the fun, the parts of me that don’t provoke a learning to white folx - is anyone here for that too? I like to be silly, eat my weight in pancakes, explore creativity and mindfulness through play, but are you here for that too? I know my brown sisters definitely are.
And you know the thing that really makes me upset? The EASE in which those cis gendered white folx who hold power with their significant influence, can turn on or off their loudspeaker. At the click of a finger, or mouse! That’s all it takes. The ease it takes to occupy a space, I’m not saying it wasn’t earned, that it didn't take hard work, or that in some shape or form some discrimination/marginalisation isn’t experienced - but the privilege to just become an activist, or not too, it just that easy. But for me, do I have to lose my shit online? Is that the only way I can claim a space. Nu-uh, that’s tiring as fuck. So the white cis-gendered women , if you are power holder, you hold significant influence online, and you say you’re a feminist. Will you choose to have an activist element to your work? And if so who are you making space for? Is it because you want to be seen on the right side of history? Will you spend your privilege? Will you pass the mic? Because if you are going to step into that space - and I hope you do, do not take it lightly. I (and many others I know) would argue that you have a responsibility to take action. Because for me, stepping into this space, it was always about survival. It’s not a choice. I don’t get that privilege. Oh I used to desperately want to not be “othered” or excluded, and wanted to blend in, like camouflage. With malleable boundaries flexing myself to not cause discourse. Well no more. I will not twist myself anymore to fit a mould. I want to thrive, not just survive. I want that the little brown girl in me to know belonging without losing parts of her that make her brilliant. I want that for my kids, my friends kids. That’s why I’m stepping into this. Why are you stepping into this?
You will make mistakes, I’ve made several, and I hope I make more. No, I’m not virtue signalling, I’m trying to encourage action. You will make mistakes. Do absorb, share and amplify by all means. Then think about what tangible action you can take. Can you have an inclusivity rider to “vet” your upcoming brand collaboration, speaker panel, influencer event, your book publisher, hell, your social circle? Your next job?
International Women's Day #BalanceForBetter
I don't have anything wise to say really. Raising women up, sure I’m here for it. Do I find this day problematic, yes I do. It’s not as inclusive as it ought to be, there are those in the LGBTQ+ family that are non binary, and I feel this day is dominated by cis-gendered women, and glosses over issues. I’m still learning so much in this area, and can only imagine how excluded some folx feel on this day when we’re surrounded by the “may we know them…” quotes - which for the record, as a parent to boy (as he calls himself) I’ve never really grasped it. I don’t want to centre myself on this issue, I want to make sure there is space for people like me, AND people not like me that experience marginalisation too.
Another thing this day has prompted for me is that I’m super wary of businesses and brands capitalising on IWD when they clearly they have a pay gap, or the proportion of BIPOC in their business and leadership roles is pitiful. It just undermines it.
So if we're talking about #balanceforbetter today, let’s take affirmative action to address the imbalance in the spaces we move in. So that we can all have a chance to thrive, and not just survive.
I would like to dedicate this article to a few people who in recent times become sisters to me:
Finally, thanks Rida and Lucy for helping me edit this article when my brain turned to mush. I’m never not in awe your capacity to give, and love, and support.