Updated: Feb 26, 2020
Birthing ourselves is a project for women and non-binary people interested in, or working for social change; our content is created by and for women of colour. We do however, welcome people who have experienced the pain of being ‘othered’ - made to feel alien, undesirable, wrong in our bodies or felt stigmatised for the ways in which the different parts of our race, class, gender, ability, nationality (or absence of), sexuality, survivor and/or cultural identiity/ies come together to create who we are.
As humans, our collective ability to absorb change happens much slower than change itself; movement of people and many different forms of global exportation has changed so many facets of our individual and collective ways of being. Culturally, we still haven't caught up with what that means for our identities; and in many ways, as a society we still haven’t found a way to move beyond binary thinking. We can either be one thing, or another, but not both, or five things at the same time. So what happens when we inhabit complex and intersecting identities? Often, we learn to be fragmented versions of ourselves in different situations, so much so that sometimes we forget what wholeness feels like, yearning sometimes, for something else, not quite knowing what it is, or how to get there.
The work of birthing ourselves is deep and necessary; it involves unlearning the ways in which our very being has become fragmented, on communing deeply with ourselves. It means understanding and healing from the ways in which we have become fractured. As Audre Lorde teaches us, healing these divides within ourselves unleashes our innate creativity; what might we do if we were no longer scared to show up, and lead as our full selves? What feelings and unformed thoughts might we give shape to? What might we do, 'if we transformed our silences into language and action?' (Lorde 2007: 40).
Birthing ourselves as a project, aimes to nurture our relationship with otherness, claiming it as a strength, allowing us to lead differently. We exist because we recognise that, to answer the calls of this socio-political moment around the world, we need to engage, and lead differently. For those of us who understand, in the depths of our being, through the ways that we straddle different, and seemingly contradictory identities to create something new entirely - living differently is not only possible, but 'can and [does] provide a way to think about what it means to be human anew (McKittrick 2015: 3).
Birthing ourselves exists to provide thoughtful resources, articles, introductions to new writing and ways of thinking about self-development, and to help facilitate each individual journey towards finding or strengthening voice. Lived experience will be at the heart of our work. We offer no answers, only different ways of engaging with who each of us have become, and how to grow our thinking, and our knowledge of ourselves to creatively map our own paths - we are excited to see where you lead us!
A few notes on reading and growing with us:
Giving birth to ourselves can often be painful, and beautiful. It involves recognising where the fabric that holds us together has become misaligned or misshapen in some way. It involves being honest about how our privilege may have painted blind-spots, and how our trauma may have taught us to see things in a particular way. Sometimes we don't have the resources, or aren't ready to do the work, and that is absolutely fine. Being vulnerable and honest, working to process your shame and fears is hard work - and requires safe spaces.
For those of us who are ready, or those of us who think we don't need to we''ll let Audre do the talking:
'What are the words that you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die from them, still in silence? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears...because I am myself - a Black woman warrior poet doing my work - come to ask you, are you doing yours? And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger' (Lorde 2007: 42).
So, we ask, what is the work that you need to do, to show up as your full self? In the miracle of survival that you are? Aman often starts any training she does by saying "Try not to use what we say to confirm all the ways in which you already do the things that we talk about. Allow your mind, and feelings to take you somewhere deeper, the place that you don't want to look, maybe the times that you are ashamed to see. Forgive yourself, and know that we all have areas in which we need to grow". When we commune together at Birthing Ourselves, we are not expecting a show of perfection. We are saying, let go of that protection, search deeply and try and think about how you can grow from the content that we post.
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Sources: Lorde, A. (2007). “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches”. New York: Ten Speed Press
McKittrick, K. (2015) “Sylvia Wynter: On Being and Praxis”. USA: Duke University Press.
As always, we are trying to create an engaged learning community. If this piece spoke to you, please share - and maybe make space for reflections - so that others may engage with your thoughts, and with ours.