Okay Ladies Now Let's...
Y’all. Y’ALL. It’s happening, it’s here! I FINALLYYYYYYY figured out how I’m going to end racism.
Okay obviously that’s not true, also, is not my job. But I have been on an ongoing journey of undoing my own internalized racism, which is my job. That is, finding the places where I’ve internalized reflections of myself given to me by this society — that I’m too loud, too dark, too curvy, too “ethnic”, too much to be loved and/or accepted — and healing them through new reflections that can show more of the truth of who I am.
I don’t know that we truly understand the mindfuck that is Lack of Representation. Or insufficient representation. Or flat out wrong representation. When we are not reflected in the culture to which we belong, it gives us the sense that we do not actually belong. When we exist in a culture that shows us as the sidekick, the extra, the token, the background character, the court jester, it makes us think that’s all we are. That our stories don’t matter, that we can’t exist as our full selves. This rejection of the self begets shame, which isn’t just a fancy word for feeling badly, but has an actual physiological impact on the brain and body. Because we are social creatures, and we need connection to survive, this disruption brought on by felt rejection poses real physical threat.
And this isn’t just theoretical projection, this is many people’s — including my own — lived story. From television, to movies, to magazines, to books, seeing black girls positioned as the best friend, the obnoxious neighbor, the Object, or not positioned at all made me feel like I had to be lighter to be seen. Because all I saw were European standards of beauty I thought that’s where the beauty spectrum ended. Anything that fell outside of that, including my entire person, felt unacceptable, first to my culture but then, more terrifyingly, to myself.
Thank God there has been relief. First of all, many of us in this situation — and to be clear I’m speaking to and about black women — took it upon ourselves to learn self-love. To unlearn toxic messaging and relearn self-acceptance. And with the emergence of shows like Insecure, beauty brands like Fenty, vloggers like Nyma Tang, albums like Lemonade, we’re also learning that we can create our own reflections, our own representation. We can make spaces to be seen and heard, and we can heal the wounds that Lack of Representation at large has wrought.
“Formation” is something I created with that same goal of creating our own representation and relearning our reflections. But instead of being a tv show, makeup line, or music, it’s a one-on-one and in-community program that speaks to the problem directly. For 4 weeks I’ll be working with black women individually unpacking:
1. What is representation? How does it relate to shame and trauma, and what are the effects on the body?
2. How has the lack of representation, in correlating to shame and trauma, affected how we behave and relate to ourselves and others?
3. Where can we find true reflections? How do we learn to fully inhabit and love our bodies after so much damage has been inflicted?
4. Where can we find community, so that we can connect with other women also going through the same struggles?
Shame is undone in relationship, and the shame caused by Lack of Representation is no different. We come together and we show each other who we are. This is how we heal, this is how we invest in ourselves, this is how we practice self-acceptance, and in a society that tells us that our stories don’t matter, this is how we riot.
The program includes three hour-long one-on-one sessions and one two(ish)-hour-long hang sesh at the end that will be held for everyone who completed. If you’re looking to build community, if you’re looking to learn practical ways to practice loving yourself that don’t feel ephemeral or amorphous, if you’re looking to find your reflection, this is literally it.
“Formation” begins the week of April 2nd, and sixteen spots for the program are now open! If you’re interested or know someone who might be, click or share the link below to schedule a 30-minute hang sesh, where either in-person or over the phone, we can talk more details about the program, how the format works, how to get signed up, and answer any other questions you may have. BONUS: The first eight people to sign up will get a 60% discount off the package!
Beyoncé said it y’all, it’s time to get in Formation. Let’s fucking go.