Anyone remotely familiar with the Harry Potter series knows of the Dementors. They’re only the most terrifying aspect of the wizarding world because they just run around sucking out people’s souls for funsies. Though they were most times used as punishment for a heinous crime they sometimes got loose and just started sucking folks souls out at random and most times the only thing you could do to stop them was shoot them with light, or magic, or hopes and dreams, I can’t remember exactly, but the way they attacked you was simply by hovering over your incapacitated body and sucking your soul out through your mouth.
Would you die? No.
Did it take long? Not really.
Could you really do anything about it once the process started? That’s a strong nah.
I feel like girls in American society, particularly little opinionated chocolate girls like myself and my friends, always had forces constantly pulling on their value and their confidence. Just slowly sucking out all the things that make them unique and abrasive and formidable and extraordinary. They’re not taught to be unapologetic with their existence, they’re taught the ultimate goal, in the long run, is to be liked and well-mannered, and if you happen to attain success while on the journey then good for you. We’re conditioned to be grateful for other’s attention and praise while always remaining humble and never stepping on any toes on the road to our dreams when sometimes we deserve to be all:
I was raised to believe the only reason someone should be ahead of you in any area of your life is because they’re better than you. That’s it. Not because they’re male, not because they’re white, not because they’re wealthier but because they legitimately outweigh you in skills. Granted, I now know about institutional oppression so that problematizes the whole ‘merit alone’ myth but all in all the major point is well-intentioned. If there’s someone ahead of you and y’all are putting forth the same effort but they’re the only one prospering, it’s time to start asking some important questions, and if need be it’s time to start raising sand. You gotta roll up to the patriarchy like:
As I stated in a previous post, I’ve always been vocal about my opinions. When I was younger, I was frequently accused of being bossy because I allegedly always wanted to tell people what to do and how to do stuff better. That’s probably true seeing as how my mom told me that even as a young lad, around 4 or 5, at various functions I always had some boy by the arm dragging him behind me and telling him how our interactions at whatever event we were at were going to go. I can’t help that even young Bri knew the world needed her knowledge and help, otherwise how else was the world going to keep spinning on its axis properly?
But seriously, I’ve always been accused of being ‘bossy’ or ‘taking over’ or ‘thinking I knew more than others around me’ and sometimes those critiques were valid and other times they were just somebody’s hurt feelings in response to me being right. Either way, I got used to being called such things, which was fine because for the majority of my primary school days I didn’t care. Someone feeling a way about my voice, which I fully believed was valid and important, and my confidence never strongly impacted my further use of such things.
Which is great.
Enter middle school and that unapologetic confidence heads for the window. I truly have no idea when I started shrinking. When I stopped answering the teacher’s questions as if my answer was the only possible one. When I stopped walking up to guys that I thought were cute and telling them so and then subsequently dropping them when they spent too long playing tetherball with whats-her-face [I ran a tight ship back in the third grade]. I have absolutely no idea when it happened or how it happened but it did.
I started to think more about how my words would impact my attractiveness to my male peers (which was a complete waste of time for a variety of reasons) or how I could show that I’m better than the girl next to me. How can I be the best woman in the room without being so impactful that I make my male counterparts feel uncomfortable?
Which is crazy.
Thank God, I eventually snapped out of it and started to see the value in being around other women and forming bonds of solidarity without a nod to the male gaze. It may have taken some time but I shed the lies told to me by the various institutions of society about how to behave in mixed company, my role as a wife–actually lets pause right here…
…why in the hell did I need to learn how to be a good wife at like 10? Like how was being taught the ‘role of a submissive wife’ helpful to my fourth grade life. It was so easy to take those definitions of heterosexual relationships and just apply it to every other aspect of my life [work, home, school, basically any place I interact with a man] because I’m ten and don’t understand y’all giving me instructions for an act that’ll likely happen twenty plus years from now, but ya know, that ain’t even the point of this post, back to what I was saying…
It’s so easy to take all the depictions of women in the media, in literature, hell even in history books and start to believe you’re valuable but never more valuable than any given man. You can ultimately be in the play but always as a supporting role, never the leading one. Every one encourages you to speak your mind until you’re speaking against them.
But the great thing is, life goes on. Oh boy feels a way about your feminist leanings? Well, he’ll be alright. He mad because you’re smarter than him and you aren’t sorry for your education? He wants you to dumb it down so he doesn’t feel insecure about his shortcomings?
You know what you tell him:
The next time you see a little girl standing up for herself and prospering in spite of society teaching her how to best accessorize Barbie while they’re teaching Kamaal over there introductory algebra, cheer her on. Stand beside her and encourage her voice because I can promise you there are more people trying to silence it than amplify it.
Alright loves, that’s all the ranting I got for this post.
Stay strong in the struggle, stay ever woke while the powers that be are trying to lull you to sleep, stay throwing up your colored emoji fist.
-Brini Bri, The One Who Refuses To Leave School, The Loud Big-Haired One in the Corner
“So give freely to those who are needy. Open your hearts to them. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work. He will bless you in everything you do.”-Deuteronomy 15:10