You might have noticed that OUTSIDE THE BOX has been a little more quiet than usual, lately. Apologies for our readers, but it seems that Fall has come and punched our level of positive energy in the stomach at home. Collecting interviews is also a cumbersome task, and I hope to share some more stories in the coming weeks.
The main thing however that is blocking the article process is elsewhere:
I have been asked to think.
I have obliged myself to question my prerequisites and things I have been taking for granted for a long time, if not my entire life.
I am questionning myself both privately and professionally, to understand my role and my impact on the universe. I am questionning myself as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a friend, as a wife, as a colleague... and the list can surely be longer.
I am looking at my own feet, at my own shoes, and trying to put the fingers on the gaps and room for improvement.
It is surely exhausting and time-consuming, and it obliges me to put things I love (like writing here) on hold until I get the right mindset back.
Why am I doing this now?
The past months' discussions, actions and images around #BlackLivesMatter have tickled and shaken my privileges. I have realized that I am totally ignorant on what other communities are experiencing "by default" and that the fights that I feel I am fighting are probably out of scope or relevance.
Let me share with you three basic examples, that somehow helped me wake up, to a certain extend at least:
Some years ago I casually asked a friend of mine, whose skin is darker than mine, what the point of Black Breastfeeding Week was. I was a new mum, and sincerely believed that a white breastfeeding mother was experiencing the same struggles as a coloured breastfeeding one. I fell ashamed realizing I was absolutely wrong as she patiently pointed at black infant mortality rates, the lack of racial representations in the medical fields supporting African-American mothers, or the limited, if not non-existing support in local communities (read more examples here).
I have discussed with the same friend my wish to buy my daughter a coloured-skin doll and pick one myself that will reflect a more open reality: after all I do expect she will eventually be confronted to dolls and toys that will share her skin tone, her hair and eyes colours, and the pink clothes she is expected to wear as a girl. I showed her a UK online shop, Clarke's Closet, selling an amazing range of coloured dolls, and tagged one as example. Again, her wi words helped me understand that my thinking was most likely going in the right direction, but I had to remain mindful on my choices: while I should be supporting a local business owned by a woman, I should however not turn my decision into a cliche pick of what I think is pretty, colourful and vibrant, if m genuine intention is not to celebrate the culture, traditions and values these colourful dolls actually reflect.
I am an environmentalist, yet I had never taken the time to reflect on the colonial past of capitalism and its modern realization. I am an advocate of zero-waste practices, without even considering it a white-people's privilege, an influencers' trend which is far beyond the priorities of coloured, unprivileged communities.
These are real flaws that I am willing to correct, so I hope you'll be mindful and help me learn. I apologize as well for my poor choice of words: here I am beyond a level of knowledge which makes me write generic things that would deserve homework of their own.
As you can see I am trying to change: I read a lot more, and I do not care how much time I will need to go through the pile of magazines and listen to others' voices, in order to further shake the tree whose branches I was quietly sitting on forever...even if I have to fall, and get up again.
This year I have also had to challenge my educational perspective: after raising a boy I am now raising a girl. I remember panicking and texting my girlfriends to ask: "how the hell am I going to do that, in the world we live in?"
I had not found myself THAT cynical in a long time.
Of course I did give birth to two kids, while many already consider the idea of bringing children to life a very selfish action in view of how we destroy our planet and what legacy our generation will leave to our children. Fair enough.
I have also been fighting some societal, expected output of holding a girl in my arms rather than a boy: pink vs. blue. Cute vs. strong. Sweet vs. fun. Adorable vs. smart. Sensitive vs. energetic.
I do not want my girl to be cute: i want her to feel cute, and receive the education she needs to turn her into the badass the world deserves. I want her to punch the same prerequisites I am dealing with right now in the face and proudly express herself without fearing criticism and without doubting herself, as a girl. And needless to say these are the demons that I am currently working with and working on, but I am willing to battle them for her sake.
So my apologies for this lengthy silence here.
It's not forever, and it's for a good cause. I hope you'll understand, and I also hope we can start a constructive dialogue about all this here.
I dedicate this article to my daughter, and to my dearest friend Sheena who always finds patience and the right words to talk to my heart. I love you both.