‘That difficult 2nd album….’

It’s been an insane week.  Pretty much the norm and if I’m honest, just how I like it.

The week has been heavily influenced by the 1st post of the blog, published in the small hours of Tuesday morning.It’s been in the making for a while so it was a big deal to take action and get it started!  I’ve been thinking of ways to keep writing regularly, how to get into the habit of storing experiences to write about.

I messaged my 4 friends, who inspired the blog, to share it with them and acknowledge their roles in my journey so far.  The feedback and support has been great and I hope they’ll be dropping in to comment and challenge and provoke, hint, hint!

As well as these women, there have been others who have inspired this journey and I want to share a few with you.  Like many women, particularly Black women, the emergence of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been incredible.  I have been following her work for many years and was really excited when Half of a Yellow Sun premièred earlier this year, on my birthday (!) in Croydon.  I managed to get tickets and went along with a gaggle of girls who helped me chase down Chimamanda at the end for a fan photo (for which I am forever grateful, ladies!).

I admit to being a bit starstruck.  She is absolutely my idol at the moment.  A talented, forthright, intelligent, articulate, compassionate woman who is just getting into her stride.  Every time I read an article, interview or see her on in discussion, I am struck by how poised and humble she is yet fiercely African, a feminist and stunning, all on her own terms.  Check her out in action here with Zadie Smith.

Chimamanda

We need more role models like her for our daughters, sisters, mothers, sons and fathers.

I recently finished Americanah and loved it (obviously!).  I particularly loved Ifemelu’s character, as stubborn, left-field young woman who writes.  I loved her blog about race identity and politics as a ‘non-American’ Black.  Honest and funny, challenging and unapologetic.  I have to say, this is what I will model my own blog on.  Some of the topics raised in that blog I’m sure will find a way into my own posts as so many resonated with me.

Other sources of inspiration are maybe obvious; Michelle Obama.  Now I know she causes much upset amongst American feminists because of her seemingly passive ‘mom-in-chief’ role.  I don’t know about that.  I think this is a woman who is managing to walk a very difficult path as the 1st Black First Lady.  The American right have tried to discredit her, calling her unpatriotic; accusing her of cosying up to celebrity;  being an ‘angry Black woman (I’ll talk about this perception at some point, I guarantee it!).

Hers is a complex path with numerous pitfalls to avoid.  She does it with poise and grace, keeping her family grounded in what must be a cyclone of madness.  When she is on a stage, people listen.  When someone tries to do her down, she calls out that rudeness.  Infuriatingly, if you put her name into a Google search ‘Michelle Obama is a man’ is the 3rd most searched for category!

Michelle

Let’s take a minute to remember just how powerful this women is, in her own right.  Whilst the fictional character of Claire Huxable is the African American ‘Mom’ everyone wanted to have, let’s show some appreciation for Mrs Obama who REAL and will continue to inspire generations of women, of all hues.

I have a saying with a couple of good friends of mine ‘WWMD?’ which means, What Would Michelle Do?’  I have this pinned on my fridge, by the way.

Last but not least, Lupita.  What can I say?  Well actually lots but I’m not going to because again, the Lupita effect will be the topic of another blog.    These woman are helping to redefine how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves.  I love the fact that Lupita has just landed her 1st Vogue cover and that her short natural hair, dark skinned African features are part of the fashion and beauty landscape.

Lupita

I can look at these women and see a reflection of myself that I do not see in other high profile Black women .  Not because they are not role models (I’m not here to do anyone a disservice) but they’re not my role models.  So this blog in part, also celebrates these women and the joy they have brought to many lives including my own!

Are you on a similar journey? What or who inspires you?

 

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2 thoughts on “‘That difficult 2nd album….’

  1. The richness, relevance and resonance continues with this second post. Oooh where to begin? I’m glad to hear that you will be tackling various points made (The overused ‘Angry Black Woman’ refrain and hopefully The ‘Carefree Black Girl’ character who DOES exist!) as I felt my mind going off on a tangent every time I came across one of these points! Now see I’m rather split on some of these female icons (I say some as for me the jury is out as to whether Lupita can be called an icon, I think time will tell…) Adichie is a force in her own right and can do no wrong in my eyes but Michelle, who don’t get me wrong I love, I believe like her husband has had to play ‘the long game’, has had to seem to buy in to Barack’s remark that we’re living in a ‘post-race’ society. I realise this says more about the society we live in than the Obama’s but definitely got me thinking: does it ever stop? Even when you reach the heights of the White House?

  2. Hey Ghanian friend. Thanks for your comment, good to have you back! Re Lupita; fair point. She hasn’t been around long enough for ‘icon’ status. Time will tell. I’m hoping she will stand the test of time but I’m watching closely and already have some fears on the fetishisation of Lupita including and up to my own use of the word ‘icon’ to describe her. Subject of another blog!
    Re Michelle; again I take your point but I would argue that despite the ‘post-racial’ label that they are both having to work with, Michelle still represents a version of Black womanhood rarely granted to African American women. I am keen to see what happens when they leave the White House and have more ‘freedom’.
    The Carefree Black Girl! Or CFBG as I’ve just seen it abbreviated when I did a bit of research. I had no idea this was an actual ‘movement’ when I sent you that link last week but apparently so! For those of you interested in this, here’s the link:

    http://www.forharriet.com/2014/06/the-case-for-carefree-black-girl-other.html

    I’m sure this will come up at some point but y’know Ghanain Friend, a guest blog is possible if you hae something to say! Holla back.

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