8 Mar 2020
#InternationalWomensDay2020 – Who Are we Actually Celebrating?
I’m trying exceptionally hard not to be Ms Debbie Downer today. But on days like today, I find myself perturbed and disturbed by the pandering and parading of #IWD quotes and images – declaring and celebrating how far we have come. Most of the women I see are not Black British, and if they are, they are either influencers or celebrities. The journey to #EachforEqual is well travelled – but not everyone feels like they have arrived.
I’m sure we can all agree that the most disrespected, unprotected and neglected person in society is the black woman.
This post is not to denigrate, dismiss or deny the phenomenal work achieved by women of other ethnic backgrounds. But as an African Women, it would be disingenuous of me to use this time, and this platform, to not highlight my sisters in the struggle.
Many of us are fed up of being verbally abused, and castigated as being too loud, too aggressive and too visible. The irony is that most of us actually feel unseen, unheard, are shrinking and silenced. How can these dynamics co-exist? Why is our fight for equality deemed too radical and socially disruptive? If the Suffragettes can burn their bras and chain themselves to railings, why is rocking an Afro, demanding equal pay or expecting care and dignity whilst in hospital too political?
In order to dismantle the status quo, we have to tear down the structures that uphold oppressive regimes, including discriminatory policies, over policing of our bodies, institutionalised racism and misogynoir. As Black women, our voices should not be muffled. Our power not punished and our rights and protections not considered an after-thought.
We are tired of feeling drained, defeated and denied. People say ‘just play the game’. But code switching is exhausting. We’ve tried to fit in, and now, no-longer recognise ourselves. And anyway, no one taught us the rules, so trying to win and seeking the proverbial level playing field is a futile exercise.
‘Slay in your lane’, ‘take up space’, ‘make a table’ they say, then give a seat to your peeps. But how do we enter the room, when we can’t get into the building? Black women deserve more than a seat. We deserve luxury, comfy and cosy couches, characterised by Italian designers like Natuzzi – But inevitably, have to settle for a Swedish flat packed fire-hazard sofa from Ikea.
From the everyday microaggressions, insinuations, slight of tongue and slip-us in the workplace, to our intellectually redundant and culturally deficient politicians. To the ongoing onslaught of vitriol spurred by cowardly keyboard warriors on social media, to the tone-deaf mass media, who excel at publishing stereotypes, tropes and propaganda, defining us as defunct, desperate and dangerous. #EnoughisEnough.
We are here, but feel lost and overwhelmed, all the damn time, too tired to ‘protect our peace’, especially, when we rarely get a break from the daily emotional, physical and mental toil. Why is joy evasive and happiness fleeting? Our lives intersect, and not just as black women, but wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, friends, colleagues and bosses. Its a challenge to balance all our roles, it’s even harder to fulfil them when very little appreciation, validation or reciprocation is received.
Today is about celebrating womanhood. We shouldn’t have to be the fastest, smartest, prettiest, or richest to be propelled in the spotlight and put on a pedestal.
Hashtags like #BlackExcellence, seems cumbersome and screams you need to ‘do better, be more‘. Personally, I find #BlackGirlMagic patronising. Not sure why our brilliance has to be associated with some form of trickery and stunting.
We must learn to sound the alarm, and positively gaslight each other. We often carry the weight of the world in our wombs and on our backs. Just for today, let’s share the burden and shoulder one another’s pain.
There will be countless websites, blogs and articles showcasing amazing women, past and present from across the globe, and that’s necessary. However, let us use this day to celebrate the local unsung heroes in our lives. Not the geographically dispersed celebrity crushes we collectively stan for. Find time today, to honour those in your homes and on your door step. Those who you haven’t had a chance to thank, say I’m sorry, or I love you. Those who have impacted you personally, your family or community directly. As global citizens on International Women’s Day, let’s champion those in our corner first. I’ll start:
- My Mother – Queen of our hearts, industrious, generous and resilient
- My Sisters – Funny, stubborn, and diamonds in the rough
- My Girlfriends – Classy, go-getters, booked, busy and un-bothered
- My Childminder – Who is patient, accepting and kind
- My Neighbours – Who never ceases to stop talking (especially when I’m running late)
- My Kids Teachers – Who have embraced my children, nurtured their talents and emboldened their gifts
- My Business Mentors – Who are wise, critical and staunch supporters
- My Clients – Who trust me to deliver
Now over to you… who means the world to you and why? Leave your comments below.
One love, Uchechi
Image credit (c) Delmaine Donson Art – Please support and purchase her artwork