In a society that prides itself for openness, it fascinates me that in 2020 people are often surprised when I tell them my age, political affiliation, salary, religion or rent. The ubiquitous rule not to discuss religion, politics or money became a social norm for acquaintances supposedly as a way to allow new friendships to blossom before taking on heavier topics. I’m not sure exactly when people started lying about their ages, but it may be as old as time. For me, lying about my age feels like shrinking. I want to stand, legs wide and hands on hips in my superwoman pose, grateful for every hour of my life.
I absolutely believe in appropriateness – it’s part of my parenting soapbox. However, I also believe in authenticity. Some of the most substantive conversations take place around these topics. These are core, existential principles and I wonder who zipped our collective lips? Who benefits from the silence?
I’m not talking about screaming matches. Anger has no place in thoughtful, intelligent conversations. I’m talking about the discussion of ideas. I love the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Are we embarrassed by our perspectives on religion, money, or politics? Are we scared to let folks know where we stand? Have we stopped caring? Or have we just been brainwashed into not speaking up? When I was a child I was taught good little girls didn’t make a lot of noise. Are we trying to get along and be “good?”
The internet has done a great job creating bubbles of like-minded people, often squeezing out debate and discourse.
But conversation matters.
Even more than that, the ability to discuss beliefs and values without anger or violence is a critical skill.
Societies and governments are not static. The good ones move and change with the voice of the people. But what if the people have busied their voices with discussions of food, sports and entertainment? What if the people have been socialized to a type of “politeness” that renders them impotent?
Yesterday we celebrated the MLK holiday. This was a man who used his body and voice to challenge political beliefs and values and was imprisoned and ultimately murdered because of it. He challenged capitalism, racism and the status quo. He wore his spiritual beliefs with pride. He stood with power in his own authenticity and ultimately changed the world. I wonder what our country would be like had he chosen to be “polite.”
If you follow my social media, you may have seen my 2020 E-vision board. On it, the symbol for the throat chakra is prominently featured. My goal for this year and forever is to throw my heart, soul and voice into writing my truth, and to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves. Especially animals. Animals are so voiceless, even after five years as a vegan it still feels strange to advocate for them. Most people think of animals as inanimate objects like shoes, purses or meat. Or, they don’t think of them at all.
Many civil rights proponents ultimately make the connection between human rights and animal liberation. As King famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Intersectionality is a term used when social justice goals overlap. I’m a feminist, animal activist and I support human rights across all races, sexual preferences and gender identities. It seems to me that injustice across any group affects all the groups. No matter where you fall, I think you would agree we all want freedom.
I encourage you to speak up for your own freedom, and perhaps the freedom of others, whatever that looks like for you.
I wish you all Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance!
P.S. The beautiful image is the first draft of my book cover art. “Thinking Outside the Chrysalis: A Black Woman’s Guide to Spreading Her Wings,” will launch this year!