As women, as mothers, as culturalized and racialized women, we have been taught and conditioned that joy is a luxury. That it is something to be pursued after all is done and even then, only if and when the work is done - whenever that is.
The audience of this blog is everybody and my intent is certainly that all will read and see themselves somewhere in these pages. However this week, I want to shower my people of African descent with extra love and extra virtual hugs because we are all hurting from the continued violence and discrimination against black people and it is an injustice to all people around the world. I am extending extra virtual hugs to black mothers who have had to bury their sons and daughters, at the hand of targeted violence and racial profiling. Initially I penned this as a post about defiantly choosing joy and after the events this past week, it's even more important that we do so even as we stand up for human rights.
I began writing this post before the recent events of the murders of #GeorgeFloyd and the unfortunate incident that #ChristopherCooper had to endure under the false accusations of #AmyCooper (no relation) and I realize that this post brings me full circle given the peculiar timing. These past few days I have gone through all the stages of grief: from denial - the world CAN'T be this overtly racist, to anger - the world IS this overtly racist, to bargaining - what we if we did x OR y would the world STILL be this overtly racist, to depression - the world is THIS overtly racist to acceptance - this world is this overtly RACIST. And as I have come full circle, I have found myself feeling weary in spirit.
In feeling defeat, there's this sense of what's the point? why try to work hard? Why bother with excellence if you're going to be judged at the end of the day by the colour of your skin. There is so much hatred directed towards black people, what is the point of putting any effort if the entire system is against us as a people?
So when I circled back to the original blog post, joy seemed like something so unattainable. Something insensitive to pursue during times like a pandemic and a global uprising against racism.
Here is the thing: black excellence is the best response to racially instigated hate. We don't aim for high standards in order to gain acceptance - acceptance is NOT on the table for people who seek to harm you or for those who will never perceive all people as equal.
Black excellence is defiance.
It is resilience.
It is how our ancestors responded to great adversities. It is what caused them to dream wild dreams about us. It is what is causing us to stand tall and proud. It is what is causing us today to be our ancestors' wildest dreams.
One of the biggest lies that women, particularly racialized women, through the burden of culture, have been sold is that we should delay joy because joy is not a priority for us. Doing something for yourself is often perceived as selfish and unnecessary. Joy shouldn't even be something that we strive for. It is an afterthought that we are not even allowed to indulge in. Mothers are supposed sacrifice ALL for their children, wives are supposed to sacrifice all for their husbands. Women are supposed to sacrifice all for the greater good of their communities and the world.
It is not sustainable to continually nurture others without pouring into our own souls. Moreover, choosing joy is an act of defiance.
Defiantly choosing joy, in the midst of anguish is refusing to be broken by a broken system and instead standing tall and standing proud. - Career Slay Mama
It is not just doing, but excelling in the areas that we were told we didn't belong and being joyful in the process. It is occupying those spaces with such grace and dignity that the hatred cannot penetrate nor thrust its ugly head.
Yes but how?
1. Take time to centre yourself
Whatever you do that centres' you - do that. Whether it is spending time in the Word, meditating, listening to gospel music or inspirational music. Take time to find that inner peace through prayer and meditation so that the storms within can calm the storms without.
2. Be mindful of your mental health
Be mindful of what you are consuming as you scroll through your phone or your timeline. You will either be traumatized and re-traumatized by post after post or get angry at the apathy and the oblivion of those who aren't posting anything related to the current season. Take lots of breaks and allow yourself some screen-free time so you can take care of your mental health in this season.
3. Do a social media purge
We all spend way more time on social media than we would like to admit. Ask yourself what you are consuming and what dominates your timeline. How does 30 minutes of scrolling make you feel. Unfollow accounts that do not speak to where you are at or that don't add value to you or trigger you in a negative way. Seek out inspirational and uplifting accounts. Take time to tailor your feed to what you would like to feed your soul.
4. Believe in yourself
In a world that is quick to tell you what you are not and what you cannot be, be your greatest cheerleader. Be careful not to be of overly critical of yourself. Self-reflect but don't self-deprecate. Remember we are all still dealing with the impact of COVID19 on top of the current race riots around the world. Give yourself grace and be patient with yourself as you grow into the person you were destined to be and as you navigate the seasons we are all enduring.
5. Embrace a lifestyle of excellence
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with excellence. Let excellence be your mark, your signature. Whatever you do and whatever sphere of influence you occupy, do with grace and excellence. That mark of excellence will speak volumes on your behalf. Reject mediocrity, and wholeheartedly embrace a lifestyle of excellence.
6. Know your tribe
Surround yourself with people who speak life into you. Even if it is one person. In these COVID19 days, use technology to connect with friends and family through video calls, chat and even phone calls. Send emails - let those who care about you know that you love them and reach out if you need a friend.
7. Be defiantly joyful
You may not have control over what happens to you or around you. BUT you do have a choice on how you respond to it. Choose joy. Choose joy over despair. Faith over fear. Excellence over mediocrity. Grace over crass. Dignity over self-deprecation. Because you are worth it and you deserve it. Refuse to delay joy. Regularly do something that makes you joyful - once a day, once a week , once a month.
Above all stand in joy, peace and excellence.
The sweetest revenge to hatred and to being underestimated is to refuse to be put down and instead be resilient enough to rise up again, and again, and again. - Career Slay Mama
Put your best foot forward, and shine.
You got this!