Is Authenticity Conditional?
There are times when I want to blog about the happenings of the world. Controversial issues like politics, feminism or social injustices but I choose not to because I don't want a backlash. I don't want to deal with trolls, racists or mysognists berating me for expressing my opinion. Can I authentically share my truth on this platform if I censor myself? Does this conditional authenticity make me inauthentic?
I am entitled to share my viewpoint and after watching the BET Awards Sunday night, I've never been more encouraged to do so.
I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and validation, while watching Jesse Williams' acceptance speech at the 2016 BET Awards. The Grey's Anatomy actor and outspoken black activist received the Humanitarian award for his relentless activism. Mr. Williams spoke eloquently about the issues plaguing the black community...police brutality, cultural appropriation and racial inequality.
I've heard him speak before during interviews on MSNBC and CNN. I follow him on Instagram and Twitter because I love the passion with which he conveys his opinions. And watching him speak with such strength and conviction Sunday caused me to question myself.
I'm the mother of a young black girl, who I'm educating on the ways of the world. I want her to be socially, environmentally and culturally conscious. How I truly teach her to be this, if I shy away from sensitive topics or political discussions. If I stay silent, am I teaching her to be silent too?
The political nastiness in this country right now has been so distressing that I stopped watching the news. But now I see that doing this is the equivalent of putting my head in the sand. Great, I choose not watch the news but that doesn't mean the inequities and problems in our society no longer exist. They don't go anywhere until we, collectively, work to get rid of them.
If I'm to be an authentic person in the blogosphere, I need to be myself. I'm smart enough, opinionated enough and who cares if people don't like it.
The point of all this is I will publish posts about these sensitive topics. I encourage you to participate in these discussions. I also encourage you to participate in discussions about these topics on a micro level; with your family, friends or others in your community.
After all, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the world to be authentic, not conditionally authentic.
Here's an excerpt from Jesse Williams' acceptance speech, as transcribed by the New York Times that profoundly resonated with me...
"Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter. But, you know what though? The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight, just a little side note: The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, all right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down."
"Now the thing is though, all of us in here getting money, that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to get money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body, when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies."