I haven't written a blog post in a while. I have no excuse, so I won't try to offer one. But I think I like it better when the posts are inspired, because they tend to be more authentic. So I'm giving thanks for this inspiration, and hoping that you are all well and staying safe and hydrated.
I am a Black womxn of a certain age. Growing up, I didn't really hear a lot of encouragement beyond the cliche "you can be anything you want if you put your mind to it". There seemed to be a litany of admonishments about what I could and could not do with my mind, my body, my soul, my mouth, my heart, my future, my past, my pain. None of those things, though probably well intentioned, helped me when depression and anxiety came to call, or more importantly, when it felt like my life didn't quite measure up to the lives of those around me. In fact, that comparison stole all the joy out of what should've been the most exciting time of my life, and led me to a mental breakdown at 21.
My creative expression is intuitive, as you know, so sometimes, I end up painting messages to younger versions of myself to help them understand that the mistakes they think they made, or the path they chose, was just fine because it all made me the person I am right now. A person I love more than anything or anyone. And I believe that more Black womxn and girls need these messages. Because we are taught to chase an enigmatic and elusive idea of perfection, value, and virtue that does not exist. And everything around us tells us that we are not meeting the mark. Skin too dark. Hair not curly enough or too tightly coiled. Too fat. Too skinny. Too outspoken. Not funny enough. Too in touch with our bodies. Not feminine enough. Too independent. Too smart. Not domestic enough. We get lost in the pursuit, seeking versions of ourselves that are unsustainable and unfulfilling. We lose ourselves to loveless situations, soul crippling careers, and general unhappiness that too often manifests itself as dis-ease in our bodies. We die, "noble" or otherwise, never having really lived. And that's just fucking sad.
Sometimes we don't have the privilege of escaping the labyrinth. Think if you will of our sisters who succumb to addiction, abuse, intimate partner violence, poverty and crime. Those who deal with the pain of socioeconomic oppression by society and the suppression of their gender's "role". Those who are never enough because they are born poor, have no support, and can only dream of complaining that their car has a flat.
I know that as a person who sells art for a living that I am speaking from a place of privilege. For every person who buys something from me, there are thousands who cannot. So it's not lost on me that I'm preaching about something from a space wherein I am somewhat oblivious to the whole subject. But I also know that each time a Black womxn claims her authority, and dares to live her life wholly, fully, authentically, it creates ripples. I want to make waves with this art. Not so people can laud what I've done, but so little Black girls can have a chance at wholeness and freedom.
Black womxn and girls are seemingly always on the defense. I think that's why most of us can recite Miss Sophia's line from The Color Purple so readily and passionately. All our lives we have to fight. We have to defend our minds and bodies from unwanted advances, and violence from too early an age. We have to defend our reputation, our emotions, our decisions, our very right to exist. From major things like how we address the world, to minor things like our decision to use smoked turkey in our greens instead of swine. You know what I'm talking about. You know you barely have a safe space to just be you. To just love on yourself and not feel the need to justify your own love. Of YOURSELF. Sis, you okay?
The recent murder of 16 Ma'Khia Bryant has exposed, yet again, the kind of vitrol we face every day. The special brand of unprotectedness that we have struggled to cope with. I'm not going to stay on this topic too long, because I have a podcast, and I'll talk more there, but I will say, now more than ever, we need to create and maintain safe spaces for ourselves and each other. That includes having space in our hearts for the kind of redemptive, all powerful love that seeps into the depths of the wounds we refuse to acknowledge, and like a magical balm, calms the storms within and strengthens our hearts, giving us the power to love ourselves and others more deeply. This isn't just a series, it's a permanent addition to my creative expression until I am no more.
So within the next few days, new versions of these messages will be available to you. I'm working on prints as well. When you see them, think about someone you know who may need this message. Seeing these words together, everyday, sends the message right to the subconscious, and your spirit doesn't know the difference between the truth and a joke, so you believe you are enough, you believe you are loved, you believe you love yourself, and you send that energy throughout your body and throughout the Universe. Where it is magnified and return to you multiplied. It's not magic. It's power. Harness it. Share it. Live it. You are enough. Every day. Right now. No matter who you are or what you believe you've done. No matter how much your car costs, or your wig, or your makeup. No matter how much cocoa butter you use or who made it. No matter if you drink tap water or Fiji. You are enough.