I’m not erasing myself OR I’m already black and blacked out

This social media black-out of women happened last year for women in India. The article posted here shares some competing thoughts about it.

When I was an early twenties student in Chattanooga, I participated in the very first National Day of Silence, 1996. I thought it was pretty exciting. Because I was in my early 20s and I hadn’t really thought, deeply, about what it means for LBGTQIA voices to be self-silenced, to be unheard, to be, basically, in the same position the voices had always been in: the background. Yes, LGBTQIA students spoke in class; I spoke in class, frequently, yet, my “status” as queer was never discussed/seen. I was simply a student who was speaking. Not speaking invalidated my existence, but in my early 20s, I didn’t know that. I do recall feeling strangely strangled, however, and feeling more devoted to the cause than to myself. My sense of loyalty radically erasing my individuality.

I found power in the national walk-out of women last year, particularly as so many institutions of higher learning, including the one where I teach, a women’s college, punished women for not showing up to work on that day. You see, there’s something to be said about not showing up to labor, the deep significance of not providing service to those who have oppressed, suppressed, repressed us and who will continue to do so, unless they are forced to face the reality of a day without women. I wondered, however, how many women walked out of their domestic labor lives.

This blacking out of an image on social media fails, for me, significantly, in the way that the National Day of Silence fails, for me, significantly. I’d love to see more campaigns that advocate for women, queer people (LGBTQIA), people of color, differently abled people, financially poor people, to rise in collective power instead of being collectively erased. We do, after all, live in a world in which women already feel invalidated, so much so that we invalidate women we see as less powerful than us. Searching desperately for any modicum of power, of visibility.

Of course, you will do you and I’m not asking you to not do you. But there are enough of these calls to be invisible in my inbox, calls by White women, for a woman of color to be invisible, that I feel compelled to explain why my visibility is the most threatening, most dangerous, most vital reality in many a White life.

& thank you to Allyson Kapin for this reminder of the recent call to action.

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