I’ve been missing in action. I’ve been going through the motions of getting up each day and doing what needs to be done. But I’ve been tired. Put it down to the 9 hour drive home Saturday/ Sunday from Cornwall.
So maybe because of this lack of energy, then my skin is thinner. My patience is none existent. Or I’ve just plain sensitive.
But some ways people are behaving and treating me is unacceptable and maddening and upsetting. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not accepting this treatment lying down. I’m pushing back and letting them know what they’re doing or not doing and how this is coming across for me/ affecting me. But that doesn’t lessen the sting. Doesn’t lessen the questioning that seems almost like a ritual I do through afterwards.
Why are they doing that? Why did they say that or not? Why did they not acknowledging my contributions? Why did they not thank me? Are they treating everyone else like that? Did they just do it to me? Are they doing this because I’m Black?
Yes. You might say, it’s not all/always about race. And I agree with you. But if we live in a white supremacy culture where we are indoctrinated into believing, thinking and behaving as if white people are superior to Black people then it’s second nature to dismiss, ignore, overrule, disregard what the Black person is saying or doing in the room. We are not seen as of value, of worth or even present. We don’t register on your radar.
So I won’t ask for forgiveness or apologise for bringing it up because for me these are daily microaggressions which depending on my current state of mind body and soul, cut deep or can be rolled off my back like water.
But this week. Today. Now. No way. I’m not accepting them. I’m not going to remain silent about them. As I’m here and I matter and I deserve to be recognised. Not because I’ve done or said something amazing or impression. Because, I am a human being, and I have a right to be here.
Here ends today’s rant and getting things off my chest as basically I was getting tired carrying them all ant
James Baldwin when interviewed after the SNCC Freedom Day demonstration in Selma, Alabama, October 1963 described what he saw there.
When was asked if he was afraid in the moment when the police were moving in on the African Americans waiting patiently to vote with guns and clubs and cattle prodders, Baldwin replied,
“ The thing is you get – you’re so scared – I was scared in the morning. Before it all began. And I was scared the first time I walked around there. But, later on, I wasn’t scared at all … Your fear is swallowed up by, you know … fury. What you really want to do is kill all those people.”*
* Quoted in Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America And It’s Urgent Lessons For Our Own, by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
There are times when I have so much I want to say but don’t know how. Ideas come and go and those moments of connection, when something clicks and I light up. And then flounder in how to communicate it. How to express what lies within.
There are plenty of times I have something to say but doubts and fears get in the way of expressing them. I long to be more courageous and bold in my expression without fear of percussions or judgements.
I know what I think and feel goes against the grain and to express these things in public would invite the gaze, backlash and cancel culture.
For example, we’ve just had a four day bank holiday, where there were parades and street parties and celebrations for Queen Elizabeth being on the throne for 70 years. But really what is there to celebrate? For me it angers as for these 70 years, people have paid for the royal family upkeep. But more infuriating is that the Queen is a figurehead of colonialism; the subjugation and exploration of Black and brown bodies around the world for centuries. And as a Black person I’m expected to shut up, celebrate this and be grateful.
But to say these things to anyone, I’d be the one with the issue, unpatriotic with a chip on my shoulder as someone recently threw at me when I described a racist incident I’d experienced which was tried to explained away as something else.
Just how it bugs me, when the term ‘women’ is used there is a silent, hidden (white) before it. That the default setting for woman is white and anything else such as Black woman is the ‘other’. To point this out would invite the comment that I always have to play the race card, or not everything is about race? Not that when someone uses (white) woman or (white) women that they do not see me included.
A few years ago, I started reading Burning Woman by Lucy H. Pearce. I felt the rallying cry for women to take back their power. To not hide from or be scared of the fire burning within. “She who dares. She who does what they say cannot be done, must not be done. She who tries and fails. She who does it her way.”
But coming back to it today, the words jar. I identify with the burning passion and rage inside of me that I need to express and enact upon, but I don’t feel my whole being/ experience/ body is contained within this book or within the term ‘woman’. I know that if I dare and do what I want to do, succeed or fail, the repercussion as so much more dangerous, dire for me as a Black woman. Not even acknowledging this within this book, or other books I’m reading excludes my experience as well as makes me feel as if I have the problem, and not that white supremacy culture is the issue.
Reading Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter to reconnect with the place, I’m having to turn part of myself off because there are certain things he says that I could find offensive. Throw away comments about African-America jazz musicians, artist or writers who made their home in Paris are not given their proper respect/ admiration/ regard as fellow human beings. Some points I feel their talent or success is not theirs alone but down to the white people they were befriended by or associated with.
I think what these reading experiences are illustrating for me, except for stoking my internal fires, is how much my lens/ gaze/ perception has been readjusted, changed and re-educated. How I’m no longer duped by white supremacy culture and how I now see behind the veil, the workings and manipulations. I no longer accept them or toil under them in silence.
Yes I feel that fire in my belly, and I’m using it to fuel what I’m doing outside of me. I may still have some fear of being burnt by it, my passion, my voice, my expressions but my greatest fear is remaining silent about the fires burning outside of me which are denied, overlooked or dismissed. And I’m ready to challenge whoever is lighting them and keeping them burning.
Writing my mixmoir on my terms is my way of allowing free rein for all the things I need to express and share in order to not be consumed from within by my fire and rage. The writing process is taking the flames and creating something beautiful and scorching.
At the moment, I’m using an altered (romance) book as my visual journal. I go with my moods when it comes to deciding what to use next for my visual journal. I listen to my gut and what she’s calling for in terms of size, shape, texture of page, of journal she needs in order to show up daily for the next month or so.
So with an altered book as my journal I was calling for space to explore colours but also layering, composition and found text.
There will be pages that are heavy with colour and my handwriting while others I’ll crave colour with space and some text cut ups applied.
I’m using Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye at the moment to create found poetry for double page spreads. The Bluest Eye was the first book I read in which I found someone who looked like me and who felt the same self-hate I was experiencing around growing up in a predominately white society being within a Black body. It was revolutionary for me and my personal development to find this book when I did.
I suppose using a copy of the book now to cut up and repurpose is saying something about how I’m feeling at the moment and how I want to see myself on the page. How I want to take back the space, take up space and be validated. But on my own terms.
I love how powerful visual journaling is to my psyche and how I move my body through this world but does so through such a simple process. It never ceases to amaze me what comes to light and fruition through this practice.
Other events offered as an alternative to the Future Landscape Programme that will run at the same tine at COP26 in Glasgow, will provide diverse voices to the environmental and conservation movement and makes those all important links between the local and global in terms of the climate crisis.
I’ll be hosting a conversation with Sarah Hussain and Serayna Solanki
Through their projects and research, both Sarah Hussain and Serayna Solanki are providing spaces for marginalised communities and people of colour to engage with nature as a means of changing the narrative around who has a say in the Climate Change Movement. They are working within education and research, community and organisational partnerships, to create and highlight dialogue around climate justice through personal and community storytelling.
Join me , as host again, with Jo Clement and Zakiya McKenzie for a reading and discussion of literature which explores place, environment, belonging and identity as both writers read from and talk about their recent collections.
Grace Hull created Green Grace Soul to share her journey to living sustainably in a holistic way. Grace attempts to balance the food she eats, the products she uses and the things she buys with the most beneficial outcomes for her health, the health of the planet, and the others living on it.
Sustainable living and Climate Change activism have many faces, and by centring holistic sustainability Grace engages with intersectionality and the social and historical context of climate change through the reflections of her journey that she shares on her website, podcast and DIY projects.
This will be a keynote lecture followed by a Q and A.