Note 1: This article was not written or endorsed by Christelyn Karazin, Nicole or any other writers on the blog.
Note 2: Before I start the post, I would like to acknowledge Afro Diziak for the feature image of this blog post. Please visit her Instagram account and show her some love.
While the world mourns the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, another name rings in my mind. I cannot stop thinking about Oluwatoyin Salau. Her death was confirmed on June 15, 2020. I know that these situations are not a competition, but I notice that one name is a roar, and another is a whisper in the wind.
Her family failed her. Where was her father? Why was her mother not caring for her? Why was she homeless? With reports of abuse in her home, allegedly by her own brother, why was this not dealt with? Her community failed her. Why did no one watch out for her? Why did no one take her in? The Black Lives Matter Organization failed her. Why did they have her featured on camera, on behalf of their organization, looking a mess? No one at the protest could give her a place to stay or make sure that she was safe? Why were the same images that she fought for the same ones that devoured her and destroyed her?
Her name is worth remembering. It is because of her that I would like to see like-minded black women make different decisions. How can we make the best lives for ourselves and our daughters? – Tamarah
Remember that You Can’t Save Everyone
I know that this point sounds a bit counterintuitive after mentioning dear Toyin. I mean no disrespect to her and her legacy. If you have someone in your life going off the rails like Toyin, and you believe that you can help to shape the trajectory of their lives, without too much cost to yourself, I would recommend it. That said, I want to emphasize the importance of putting on our own masks before helping others. You cannot pour into others if you are empty yourself. Sometimes, you cannot send that money to those relatives. Maybe you cannot babysit those kids. Maybe you should go overseas to study. Maybe you should remember what are the consequences of fighting for causes that don’t serve you.
Focus on Improving Yourself
Kendall St. Charles and Christelyn Karazin have been sharing the importance of levelling up our lives. A part of that is enhancing our exterior, by choosing the right style and presentation for ourselves. How are we appearing to the world? I won’t belabour the bonnet point, but we have to consider what messages are we sending through our presentation. Another aspect is doing the internal work, seeking therapy, sharpening our social skills, exploring new hobbies, travelling to new places, and building our collective self-esteem. Embody what “divestment” truly means. I love sharing Christelyn’s video on divesting. We need to bask in the little privilege we have, go where we are celebrated, not tolerated, and truly prioritize our own needs.
Stop Going to Protests
I know that every time I said this publicly on social media, I would get a lot of pushback. I would rather just keep my thoughts off social media and transmute them here. At the end of the day, some of the same women who are going to BLM protests and participating actively in social justice movements, are getting hurt by the same communities that they are fighting for. I still remember the days when black men would come online and mock Korryn Gaines and Sandra Bland but will want to square up with you online if you say anything off-colour about George Floyd.
Meanwhile, women are losing eyes, miscarrying, and being arrested at protests. I have even heard online accounts of black women being trafficked at protests. Men are preying on women leaving protests, like Toyin Salau, or shooting down the same women who are championing their causes. Even beyond that, many of us need to be aware of the fact that black women being ignored and overlooked in the same movements that we continue to fight for. There has even been a study proving this fact. One phrase from the article covering this study really stuck out to me: “This ‘intersectional invisibility’ means that movements that are supposed to help Black women may be contributing to their marginalization.”
Ladies, why should you stay at the front lines, while the men stay at home? What are you getting out of protesting? Why not stay home? Not only will you keep yourself safe from COVID-19, but you can protect yourself against the other dangers that come with being on the front lines. At the end of the day, as Christelyn Karazin says, “Stop feeding the things that starve you.” Why must you give your life, limbs and emotions to people that wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire?
Find Creative Ways to Promote Your Image
I think that we ladies need to form secret societies. KSC has been saying this message for ages and has had strategic groups in the past, while Christelyn has actually put this into motion with her secret Pink Pill group. In these spaces, we need to focus on improving ourselves, and then strategically navigate our spaces. What organizations should we align with? How can we align ourselves with the upper echelons of society? How can we seek and hold positions of power? What schools should we attend? What job positions should we occupy? How should we be portrayed in media? How can we change or even just diversify our collective image? For this part of the article, I do not have the answers here, but I will be looking into it, and putting my heads together with fellow Pinkies in our private space. I do not want to just scream “divest” on Twitter. I want to live out the spirit of forging a new and bright path for myself.
Do not let Toyin Salau die in vain. She was a bright light extinguished before her time. Remember her name. Keep her story in your heart, and use her as a cautionary tale. Do not give your all to anyone who seeks to extinguish your flame.
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