Emotional Labour

‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ Austin Channing Brown

My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment of anger, hence all the mistake. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s good for the soul, or good for me to let the anger out that I’m carrying around, moment to moment, daily.

It’s probably one of the rare occasions, I’ve allowed myself to vent as I have learned through years and experiences being an angry Black woman gets me nowhere. But the flip side, where has being an amicable and amenable Black woman got me? Probably well down the road of mental health issues and questionable wellbeing.

A week on, and I’m still sick and tired of the things playing out in my life as I move through this world in the body of a Black woman but still not recognised or treated as a fellow human being. I could even say that things have gotten worse as with time, more slights and ignorance and lack of awareness of their actions and inactions accumulate. Continue to accumulate as I get older but also as I attempt and fight to be met eye to eye with others as a human being deserving of living and striving within this world.

I oscillate between exhaustion and anger. Being depleted and fired up. And the worse thing of all is those that cause this suffering are oblivious to it. And even when I take the time and energy to point it out to them, how their actions are being unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and not seeing the situation in it’s totality they get on the defensive, do not engage with the issue, but deflect it away with comments like, ‘ I won’t engage with you when you’re being so aggressive.’

I stand by my post Black Fatigue. I just wish I’d mentioned emotional labour too. I can see now, as I reach 50 years old this year, that I have spent my lifetime trying to fit in. That means trying to be white. That is the only way to be let / given an inch in this game/ society/ life. I’m expected to be white because this is the cultural way of being. White people believe being white is right and good. Anything ‘other’ is wrong and should do everything right to become more white.

Now as I continue to question this standard, the way of operating in society, in the world, I’m going to become more and more angry and exhausted because I’m constantly being judged for being a Black female in a world made for whiteness. Everywhere I turn, in the street, on social media, on the TV, my self-esteem is being chipped away while living with the disparities in job opportunities, health care, education, and in the justice system. And I’m supposed to be happy and grateful when someone white talks about diversity and offers a crumb as if it’s taking a risk.
And then if I have the audacity to ask for more, there’s tears.

I’ve taken a break from social media as I was falling into the comparison spiral trap as well as putting pressure on myself to produce. But I see now what I was doing was performing. This is my pain and this is my joy. I was striving for the viewer, for you, to see me, treat me, like a fellow human being. It appears it’s the only dance I know. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be white at the same time as trying to convince/explain/ argue that I’m worthy, that I’m a fully functioning and feeling human being who deserves to be here for your discarded crumb. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

I’m taking back control and my power so I can control my rage. Not to protect others but myself. I’ve got to make sure now that my anger doesn’t destroy me. I’m putting in emotional labour with me, for me now.

Black Fatigue

It’s been one hell of a week. And it isn’t over yet. I just feel exhausted, drained and a bit bruised and a battered with the world. Can I say the system?

No. I’ve stopped using these kind of non-descriptive terms along with the likes of ‘institutional racism’. As these are terms used to conceal the truth, to deflect attention away from the people who create racist policies and practices. Who act on their racists attitudes and ideas. Who internalise racism and reflect it outwards against others that look like them.

I’m so sick and tired of being made to feel grateful for the crumbs that are thrown my way. That I should shut up and put up and a smile sweetly if I’m invited to the table. That I shouldn’t rock the boat, that I should be shamed or struck by fear into silence. Smile sweetly and just nod my head.

I’ve played the game and helped others tick their boxes as at the time I believed it would bring about change. That once I’d convinced them of my humanity, explained my existence and displayed my intelligence and worth then they would have to listen to me and take me seriously.

I’m sick and tired of this being played out again and again. All I can do is speak up. All I can do is work hard to create opportunities and experiences that weren’t there before for others and myself.

All I can do is call out injustices and imbalances in power and access where I see them. To not stand on the sidelines bickering but creating change on my own terms to make society a more equitable place.

I’m no longer gonna allow others to be putting their labels, insecurities and lenses on me. I know what my intentions are and I know they come from my heart. And I’m not sure everyone can say that when we live in a world which celebrates the achievements of one over the many and rewards the ones who are amenable saying the words that others want to to hear rather than speak their truth.

Guilty was the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial for another bad apple. This is hardly justice if the murders of Black and People of Colour by the Police, through state sponsored terror continues. There needs to be more accountability, there needs to be a cutting down of the whole rotten tree, there needs to be a redistribution of power.

I’m so sick and tired of the infighting, of the lack of listening, of the personal agendas and vested interests. Why are we living as if everything is scarcity, therefore everyone’s in cut-throat competition. Instead of embracing the reality of abundance. There is more than enough to go around except a few insist on hoarding a majority share. If everyone was given the right conditions, their rightful share/ place/ space to thrive, we would each fulfil our own potential.

Just like nature displays. Just as she sets the example. Today on International Earth Day, I just wish more individuals connected with nature, and therefore themselves and each other. The most powerful energy is love. But too many people continue to feed and act on hate.

And I’m just sick and tired of this being the case.

The Earth Sea Love Podcast

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It feels an age since I’ve been here. But I’ve been busy. I’m been creating a podcast over at Earth Sea Love.
The Earth Sea Love Podcast is a podcast for and about women of colour and their relationship with nature hosted by Sheree Mack. The Earth Sea Love Podcast is committed to exploring the experiences of women of colour with Mother Nature. We want to provide spaces where the hidden voices in the environmental/ conservation conversations can explore their relationship with the natural world.
Inspired by time spent outdoors, we amplify the voices of women of colour; our stories, conversations, interviews, photography, writing and artwork.
We’ll be exploring our legacies, histories and memories which have had an influence and effect upon how we perceive ourselves within the natural world and environmental/ climate justice movements.
This podcast is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
we go live tomorrow 13 July 2020. Be ready to listen in on all the major podcast platforms. 

Day 15 – NaPoWriMo – Musician

black and white bus stop sign
Photo by Autumn Dunne on Pexels.com

Ted Blaine, musician
After Gabrielle Calvocoressi

I journey back sometimes
and remember when I was riding
up front in that hot metal can.

I could see her in the rear mirror,
patting down here hair
and fixing her lipstick.

I should have done things
differently, little things,
like carried her bags

into the service elevator.
Let her know that I didn’t
think it was right, the way

they treated them Negroes.
One time, I heard her humming
while watching the world whizz by.

It was awful sweet the way
she could drift off into the music.
My mama was the same when she

had breath in her body. Sometimes
I dream of singing. Mostly
it’s that Billie’s comes back.

We’re traveling in the hot tin bus
but we’re upfront together
and she’s telling me

a thing or two about improvising
as the trumpet runs off
dancing with the piano.

Day 12 – NaPoWriMo – Triolet

Today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo is to write a triolet. I love just saying the word, ‘triolet’, never mind writing one.
The triolet form involves a fixed rhyming and line scheme which is pretty simple once you get your head around it. The first line is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines; the second line is repeated in the final line; there are only five original lines, and the rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB.

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Triolet: shooting at blossom is a spectacle

Why isn’t one bullet too many times to shoot anybody?
It’s a crime for cherry blossom to fall too soon,
How much gratuitous violence is taken by a blackbody?
Why isn’t one bullet too many times to shoot anybody?
Translucent and tender like the flesh of a fledging chickadee,
we are all bone and blood and teeth under the white of the moon.
Why isn’t one bullet too many times to shoot anybody?
It’s a crime to see the cherry blossom fall too soon.

Sharing Your Work – 002

“ I think deep down we know that our creativity is not just for us. The creative power flows through us and it’s not meant to stop there. We need to keep the faucets open and allow the gift of creativity to circulate, so that it can touch other people. So it can grow beyond our own limited reach. “ Anna Lovind, The Creative Doer

Spreading the Joy

The Creative Body

For the past few weeks, I’ve been itching to come to the canvas. To crack open the paints and create the images that have been streaming through my head usually when I put my head down to sleep. But in all honesty, I’ve been too mentally and emotionally exhausted to pick the paintbrush up.

Then I cut myself some slack and said to myself, you don’t have to get the paints out, just pick up a pencil or pen and draw something. So I did. And after the pencils came the charcoal and then the chalks and oil pastels and ink. Each stroke of line moved onto another and another medium to pick up and use. And before I knew it I’d created a body; a black woman’s body.

I’m now itching to do more. So the black women’s faces and bodies, one of my 100 day projects from 2019 are coming back for the official #The100dayproject which starts on 7th April till 15th July 2020.

To support me in this task, I’ve also signed up to Connie Solera’s Painting the Feminine again, which is always a rich space to create images from daily. Looking forward to exploring where these black women want to take me this year. Stay tuned.

Black British Art – 001 – Sonia Boyce OBE

This has been a long time coming. I first mentioned this series here.

{Sonia Boyce, She Aint Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On (Some English Rose) (1986), Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Photograph: © Sonia Boyce. All rights reserved. DACS 2013}

Sonia Boyce, OBE, born 1962 in London of Afro-Caribbean descent has been vocal in championing Black British Art since art college. She has been at the forefront of changing the perceptions of British art, shifting the focus and belief away from whiteness towards multiculturalism being one of the first Black British women artists to be exhibited in Britain.

Frequently, using her art, be that photography, collage, film, prints, drawings, installations and sound, to explore themes of race and gender, Sonia Boyce takes the time and space to represent her experiences of being a black woman living and working in Britain.

Elected to the Royal Academy in 2016, in 1988, she became the first British-based black artist to have a show at the Whitechapel Gallery. She is currently a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London.

I’m attracted to Boyce’s work because I can see myself within it. Far too often, I look at British art and see beauty personified in white flesh, female and slim. It’s demoralising as well as destructive to my psyche to not see myself reflected. With Boyce’s work, I see my struggles as well as my beauty and joys. I can relate and for this I am grateful as well as admire Sonia Boyce greatly.

Black Women’s Appreciation Day

#thankblackwomen

Girltrek has announced March 1st as Black Women’s Appreciation Day. It’s about giving thanks to black women we know and don’t know. It’s about publicly flooding the world with thanks and love for black women who have not and continue to not receive their/ our rightful thanks, appreciation, gratitude, props and recognition for all that we do in this world; families, work, society and the Earth.

I totally embrace this day and give thanks to all the black women who came before me, trailing a path. I give thanks to all the black women walking beside me now. And I give thanks for the paths we trail for the black women to come behind us, our daughters. My Miss Ella.

I also give thanks and appreciation for myself. How I daily rock #blackgirlmagic against the odds. #ThankBlackWomen. Pass it on.