I have a picture of Florence Given in my feed which I won’t take away. I am not saying that she is perfect and I am not saying she is right In this very grey ocean that we want to paint in black and white, but I definitely won’t cancel her.
I also like the Chidera Eggerue, I believe in the need for her voice and the power of her message and her books. I am also not claiming that she should win (if after all this social media drama there is anything looking remotely like a winner) and I am not claiming she is flawless.
My feminism is the result of the way I see the world after thousands of conversations, quotes, books and thought provoking moments. It is in constant evolution. Both of them, Florence and Chidera, have added something to it. This whole controversy has added lot, it has made me question a lot of things.
Most of all I don’t think my opinion on this matter particularly matters, I stand by my original approach about listening and learning. But I don’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about the impact this has had on me, and to thank those who have used their platform to ask the difficult questions, those who have put a mirror in front of us all and showed us another layer of the world that sometimes we don’t see.
I have sat very uncomfortably with my privilege for the last few weeks, reading stories and seeing people that I admire giving their very valid 2 cents about the topic. Some people defending one thing and some people defending other. I have learnt that white women are making everything more complicated, in one direction and in another, we have to recognise that we seem to be a big part of this problem. I think white women being problematic in the antiracist movement is the one thing that both sides agree with unequivocally.
We were all so eager to find out who was right so we could idolise and who was wrong so we could demonise, we desperately wanted to be on the good side. We made it about us, we calculated how this affected us, we were worried about what our feelings said about our internalised racism, and we were hoping to be absolved from it all.
I have found myself excusing some of my opinions (if only internally in my own thoughts), I found myself trying to avoid some really valid points because they were in the pot with others that I disagree with. Does it sound familiar? Don’t we hate when men try to cancel a whole discourse and pick up on smaller things? Are we doing the same things that what we accuse men of doing to us?
So Chidera got it spot on: "The question is, do we like ourselves when nobody is liking?" Do we like how we act in private when we are not perfoming? Can we hold ourselves (privately) accountable and commit to do the work when the world is not watching? Can we admit to ourselves (and not in the hunt for likes) the ways in which we are part of the problem?
The fact that I don’t think is my place to have a public opinion doesn’t mean that I don’t want to thank everyone in the black community that has dedicated time and energy to generously show theirs. I have learnt so much and I am grateful for that. And I hope all of us can welcome some of those learnings deep inside ourselves, where nobody is liking.