in

UN gender advisor weaves together a tapestry of Black women’s history – Reckon

UN gender advisor weaves together a tapestry of Black women’s history – Reckon
Announcement


Announcement

I often think about all the women in my lineage, living and otherwise. I wonder what their dreams were, if they were artists or desired to be, if my pull towards creativity was an inheritance. When reading Catherine Joy White’s “This Thread of Gold,” I felt very sure that every creative bone in my body is an extension of the women I descend from. White would call this a tapestry that connects my story to that of my ancestral mothers. That same tapestry connects Black women across the world.

In “This Thread of Gold,” White uses the metaphor of a tapestry that weaves together the stories and lived experiences of Black women. She was inspired in part by Chiara Vigo, the only woman left in the world who holds the gift of weaving sea silk into a thread of gold. Vigo inherited this sacred knowledge from the women before her. She sees herself as being woven into a tapestry that is impossible to unwind. This is something White deeply resonated with.

Black Joy had an opportunity to chat with White about how her experiences impacted her approach to writing this book, the importance of telling a complete story of Black women’s lives and how all Black women, regardless of our position in society, are all woven into a tapestry representing all the beauty we have to offer this world.

“Because history has not traditionally favored our Black women figures and leaders, those who have changed the game and changed the narrative, we only are allowed this one story. And actually, of course, that’s not the full picture.”

You wear many hats including being the gender equality expert for the United Nations. How did your experiences in this role impact how you approached this book project?

What’s great about doing as many things as I do, is that I do have this wide lens in terms of, I see the breadth of experience. Yes, I’m a creative, but this is not just a book that’s looking at musicians or actors or writers. I’m looking at the political side of things as well, and I’m thinking about how we galvanize not by doing one thing or being one thing, but by all coming together.

And I think it was amazing to be able to write about, for example, my first UN mission [attending the Third Africa Forum on Women, Peace and Security], to be able to write about that alongside talking about Una Marson and talking about singers and songwriters as well. We ultimately have the same goal and I think I wanted to use all of these different experiences to show that no matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing, everything you are putting out there is equally as important and as valid.

“This Thread of Gold” celebrates women who are widely known and those who are essentially unsung heroes. One example was Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin. Another example was Hattie McDaniel, which I can admit I didn’t know the full extent of her story. Can you talk about why telling a complete story of Black women’s history is necessary regardless of how complicated it may be?

I think what’s so tricky [is that] we have certain well-known figures. Let’s take Rosa Parks. We know that story. Every single person, whether you’re from the US [or not], I grew up hearing that story. But because history has not traditionally favored our Black women figures and leaders, those who have changed the game and changed the narrative, we only are allowed this one story. And actually, of course, that’s not the full picture.

And I think I wrote what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said about this. The problem with the single story is not that it’s untrue, but that it’s incomplete and I think this book is, yes, about acknowledging that, of course Rosa Parks was there, and we’ve all learned about her. But how do we bring some of these other figures to life? Because we are not working in a silo, we work together, and one person’s win is what allows another person to be pulled up and to pull someone up after them. And I think it’s also about extending grace to ourselves and to each other. And it’s about saying you don’t have to get everything right all the time. We are human.

Not one of us is getting everything right all the time and having these figures almost put on this pedestal doesn’t allow us the grace to make mistakes. And if we don’t make mistakes, we’re never gonna get any further. We have to make mistakes, to learn and to move on. That’s how we also show the next generation, it’s okay to try something. It’s okay to pursue something. You don’t have to be perfect in doing that. So, I think grace would be a really important keyword in terms of how we actually paint a full picture of the Black female experience.

Announcement

Was there anything that surprised you during your research process for the book?

Yeah, going back to that question you just asked, I grew up with Rosa Parks. I never heard of Claudette Colvin and Claudette Colvin was just one of the other women. There were four or five other women who had also refused to give up their seats on the bus. And I think it surprised me in terms of what makes someone go down in history. Often, it’s that they fit the particular picture that the movement needs to paint at the time.

“We don’t need to wait for someone to do that big thing and spark a civil rights movement. You can see it in the person next to you, the carer or the social worker.”

And I think the learning process of that was being able to say, let me look around, let me look around at my family and at my friends, we are all part of this. We don’t need to wait for someone to do that big thing and spark a civil rights movement. You can see it in the person next to you, the carer or the social worker. So, I think what surprised me was being able to go inward and look around next to me. This book started off quite big and it became smaller and smaller until I was seeing myself in this tapestry, which was never even on my mind or on my heart at the time. So yeah, I think that it’s seeing how we are all part of this and weaving it together.

What was the most joyful aspect of writing this book and weaving in your story with the stories of these heroes, unsung and otherwise, throughout history?

It felt like I was an archaeologist. I was uncovering things, and you uncover something and you’re like, this is fascinating. And it leads you to something else. And it was this sense of “nobody has been taking the time to put this together and I am now putting this in this book that will exist for generations and generations, hopefully so.” [I think of] Nancy Green, for example, and discovering that Sherry Williams had gone out of her way to find her gravestone and what that meant. I think that was a really thrilling thing.

Also, I think there was just so much joy when I interviewed fifty [Black] women and asked them, “What is it that you love about yourself? What do you find beautiful about yourself?” which is so simple, but I cannot tell you how profoundly moving it was to be receiving these words from someone who may never have asked themselves that question before . . . speaking to them [and] reading the responses, crying and just thinking, this is what we need to always encourage each other to do and to ask ourselves.

I thought it was really fascinating how many of their responses to what they find beautiful about themselves was about what they’re contributing to the world and to their community. I thought that was really beautiful. How do you want Black women, specifically, to feel after reading this book?

I want black women to feel held. I want them to feel heard and seen, but I also hope it feels galvanizing. Yes, it’s written for us and it’s about making us feel recognized, but it’s also about knowing that we can take that further and it doesn’t have to look like being arrested and it doesn’t have to be big . . . I hope it will encourage every single person who reads it to feel they are part of something greater, no matter if they recognize that in their day-to-day life or not, they are.

Announcement

You can find and purchase “This Thread of Gold” on the Black Joy bookshop.



Source link

Announcement

What do you think?

Written by Politixia

Announcement
Announcement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Announcement
Tech startup Trickest helping to spearhead the rise of the ethical hackers

Tech startup Trickest helping to spearhead the rise of the ethical hackers

Why Critical Drinker Avoids the Word ‘Woke’ (When Possible)

Why Critical Drinker Avoids the Word ‘Woke’ (When Possible)