When our words should fail us

Coming back online after #BlackOutTuesday

Hi Lovelies,

I hope you are all doing well?

I had not intended leaving it so long between emails - but I do hope you are still find these newsletters useful when they come.

This newsletter is more of a reflection on why I’ve been so quiet - with a few calls to action. Probably familiar.

Muting my feed

I had intended to write through June about my experiences of being 1 year as a business owner; as an ex-academic. Yet, the theme of my last email; ‘fatigue and fury’ remains true.

The murder of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked another long over due wake-up call for many white people.

As the weeks of renewed anti-racist activism continued, I muted my social media feed. Instead of talking about my learning from being 1 year in business, I’ve used my social media as one tiny act of solidarity; not as performative ‘slacktivism’, but as showing I acknowledge that I need to do a lot more work to really understand my white privilege - that which at times allows me to ‘step back from the news’.

I’ve not only muted, I’ve spent June doing the work; of listening, learning, reading and seeking out more voices to learn from. I’ve written to my MP, I’ve spent money with black creatives. I’ve amplified. Again, a series of tiny little things. The very least I can do.

Never business as usual

Over the past few days, however, I have been engaging more on social media, and with more of my ‘usual’ content; partly I have missed the connectivity of the platforms I use. More importantly, however, has been the realisation that in order to keep doing the work of anti-racism, this also has to be part of my everyday feed. So, in becoming more visible again, it can not be a return to ‘business as usual’; if it ever even was.

As readers know, I have a chronic illness; stage 4 endometriosis. I’ve been suffering with prolonged flares of pain and fatigue this month too. These are endlessly frustrating and have been impacting on my mental health again. This means I need time out, but also this makes virtual spaces all the more crucial; they literally are my window.

My window to the world; my ‘shop’ front; my social circles. My feed is therefore often a jumble of the mundane - of pictures of food and daily life and parenting - and the work. Political activism should never not part of my everyday life - and my feeds - even if it looks a pared back and ‘virtual’ form.

I’d love to know what you think. Do you keep your social media feeds ‘distinct’? Can we?

When words fail: take a step back and listen

What I’ve learnt from this wake-up call is that taking a step back and not ‘broadcasting’ as usual is not only fine, but it is necessary.

Having a diverse and personally political feed is also not buisness kryptonite - people work with people. You need to know me as a person if you ever want to work with me as a coach or speaker. My values run through my work.

So, sometimes our words should fail us.

Sometimes we need to pass the mic and sit back and listen.

Other times, we do need to make ourselves heard and visible; especially if we take seriously our work of being an ally; at holding ourselves and others to account - be that the government, or your grandad.

Refresh your feed, reading list, citations. More and often.

Many of you reading this will have been doing work already - I was too - however, have a look at your social media feeds. Who do you follow, retweet? Ditto your reading lists - both personal and work. And then your citations.

If you are a white woman in academia, if you are working in ‘conservative’ disciplines, it is likely you can do more - just like I could.

While I was in my last years of academia and teaching Feminist Politics, I began to do some of this work; frustrated at the paucity of the ‘canon’, I was no longer going to wait for permission to change.

Don’t wait for the canon to change. Don’t wait to refresh your reading lists. Simply show yourself, your colleagues, your students that we can do better - even within institutions and organisational cultures that can’t or won’t.

Also - share. Amplify. Be generous. Do academia differently.

What I’ve loved reading this month

  • Yrsa Daley-Ward, The Terrible.

  • Candice Carty-Williams, Queenie.

  • Layla F Saad, Me & White Supremacy.

  • Diana Evans, Ordinary People.