Over the past few months, people have been asking me about my silence. I didn’t realize I was silent but apparently there is consensus. It has gotten to the point where a lot of conversations result in the question, “Are you still writing?”
There seems to be a lot of curiosity as to why I am no longer “causing trouble,” and within these questions hides the unasked one, “Do you no longer care about crisis (A) through (Z)?”
I really had to sit with this for a bit because I did begin to feel as if I was not being as vocal as I “should” be. This guilt came despite being intimately aware of the reasons I did take a break (stop?) from punching out hot takes on social media. Like damn, can I not just chill??? Sometimes a girl just wanna share some memes and act a fool, ya feel me?
But when you are involved in advocacy work, particularly in spaces this small, there is an expectation that you must dedicate all your time and efforts towards it. Doing otherwise makes people uncomfortable. Certainly, having the ability to take a few steps back is a privilege as that option is not available to many, but there is power in prioritizing your own care and protecting yourself from burnout.
The thing is, I have not stopped writing. I have not stopped creating. I am still doing the same things and commenting on the same set of issues that I always have. I realized that it wasn’t that I was silent, it was just that people were no longer seeing me as that angry Black woman (for those that consider me Black, heh) and that man-hating feminist. (Both are labels that I greatly embrace, because let’s face it, misandry is fun and ridiculing overt and covert racists has its high points). I don’t know man, this work requires patience and I don’t have much patience where ignorance is concerned, so there’s also that.
In this myopically stagnant society, way too many people expect you to spoon-feed and bear the brunt of social justice labour for them. Not only is it selfish, it also depletes a lot of energy from those whose lives are already surrounded by trauma and instability.
Seriously, how many times we really ga have these kiss me ass conversations about anti-Black racism within Guyana? How long before people stop viewing it as being divisive or as an American issue? How many times must we explain the ways in which toxic masculine culture impacts women and others?
It is tiring having to teach people and point out glaring truths that we are quite literally witnessing pon the daily, particularly when they are resistant to understanding and constantly try to abuse and gaslight you. (We get that you daft buddae but owww)
For those who are committed to social justice, you can quickly begin to feel dehumanized by the pressures of being constantly seen, heard and actively silenced. There is always an expectation for perfection and adherence to the ideals others set out for you. The reality is though, the perfect activist does not exist. Unfortunately, too many do this work from a place of ego and unaddressed trauma and have no intentions of healing and being accountable. This contributes towards a lot of harmful in-movement and community conflict that thrives on the culture of martyrdom inherent in social justice spaces. I don’t want to be a martyr for the causes I support. No me gusta. Me no like it there.
I am at a stage where I am beginning to reclaim my energy. I have begun actively disconnecting my self-esteem and identity from my work. In doing that I realized I could contribute towards the things I cared about in a more healthy and sustainable way. I want to learn how to write for me again – not because of expectations or fear – but because I want to. I do not want to do anything from a place of trauma and ego. In everything I do, I want it to be from a place of strength, understanding and genuine curiosity.