“[My message is to] own your imperfections and all the things that make you interesting, because I refuse to allow someone to put me in anybody’s box.” –Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
We are always learning in this world. Whether that means you’re a student in a classroom, a professional navigating your career, or a child who has had to grow up at a young age because of circumstances you are unable to control, we are always learning. Learning equals growth, and regardless of the way you have learned what you know, it’s important to own your experience in new conversations with others.
Storytelling is a form of education that goes deeper to our core than any textbook.
This past year has been a journey for me of liberating myself. What started out as reconnecting with the energy of Nelson Mandela through his autobiography shortly after his passing has led me to authors whom, I have always known to be great, but never had the chance to read their work myself. Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Chimamanda Adichie, Janet Mock—the list goes on. I can easily say that this year has been the first of many more to come that reading became one of my favourite things to do.
Words have power, and though I never needed to read any of the books I have read over the year to know this, it’s important that I speak this into the universe. Whether it is written or spoken, words invoke meaning, emotion, and most importantly, force us to think about situations we may never have thought of before. It is from this understanding of the power of words that brought me to start this blog.
Recently, I have entered a state of transitional employment, and while I stay positive that my calling will reveal itself to me soon, I have had to fight with sources of negative energy in my mind that try to steer me off course. As a gay Black male who is conscious of the white, patriarchal, and heteronormative society I live in, it seems like there is so much out there that is trying to silence me.
For my entire life, I have been used to being one of few people of colour in rooms, but as I have been liberating myself this year, I find that I am always second-guessing whether I want to be that minority or not. Why? Because I am tired of white faces pretending to care when I advocate for my marginalised communities only to forget it five minutes later and follow their own personal agenda. I know this is not the case for every white person I speak with, but from my experiences over the past year, this is my truth.
When applying to jobs, I find myself debating whether I should water down my mission of being a voice for the Black community and Black LGBTQ community. My fear is that my prospective employer may write me off as another angry Black person who will only bring “unwanted drama” in the workspace. And as hard as many of you would like to think that this doesn’t happen, it does. But what’s important for me to remember—and sometimes I forget this—is that employers who might think this of me just aren’t for me. My words are my truth, and I refuse to lie about it in order to get a job.
My thoughts are revolutionary, and I speak truth into this world so that others can hear about the world I want to live in.
If people can’t handle it, that’s fine, because I’m going to keep being me. I’m grateful for the strong support system of friends in the movement for racial and social justice I’ve created. Even without a conversation between us, seeing the revolutionary work they have dedicated themselves to reminds me of the power that lies in being truthful to yourself.
I recently was at an event at the Centre for Social Innovation where they asked all of us to write down one thing that can make New York a better place. My answer was conversation. So much of who I am and what I love in life has come from conversations with others. When we talk to one another, we are sharing our stories, and whether we support these stories or not, it’s important that we keep an open mind to listening to others so that we can better understand ourselves.
Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone new. You never know just what kind of connection the universe has in store for you.