Blackouts and Whitewash

From feminine crossfires in my hometown, Ubud, to further unyielding of Mother Nature in Indonesia, where earthquakes rocked Sulawesi causing tsunami warnings, to the exposure of ‘angry white men’ on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, my head is spinning.

Uncomfortably I’ve sat with it all, listened to various weigh-ins and now will attempt to make sense of where I stand with it ALL. I write from the vantage point of being someone who firmly believes in the interconnectedness of all things within and beyond my mortal self. Add to this, my obvious demographic – being a Black woman of Afro-Caribbean descent.

This said, I am aware that the feminine awakening comes in all shapes, colors and sizes. We hail from different cultures, religions, nationalities, beliefs, values and norms. As I witnessed fires blazing uncontrollably, of course I felt moved to speak. Yet there was a part of me that was terrified. For how could I speak of my gender and not of my race? These are not two mutually exclusive entities.

Increasingly, it seems that #livingwhileblack is a dangerous thing – even within the confines of your own home. I make reference to the young Caribbean man who was gunned down by a white female cop who mistook his apartment for hers. A weak attempt to mar his character made reference to the fact that he allegedly had marijuana in his house. This is at the same time that certain US states are reaping mega greenbacks from this sacred green herb – for medicinal purposes.

I was further gob-smacked as I watched throngs of people pour out behind Tiger Woods last week as he walked the green proud, having re-gained his PGA Title in this prestigious golf tournament. As I said to one friend, ‘I beamed with pride as I saw his confident stride, my body covered in goose pimples. And I don’t even like golf!’ For a man who many of us may recall in that degrading mug shot of him in a red shirt when he was caught supposedly DWI, his comeback is joy to see.

So getting back to the convoluted matter at hand, why was I afraid? As I said to one fellow yoga teacher, ‘I fear that the minute I introduce race into the mix that I will be accused of playing the race card.’ In my daily vocation as a yoga teacher, transformation coach and an influencer of sorts, I am blessed to meet women from ALL sorts of life – ranging from late teens to early sixties. Each one has a unique story to share vis-à-vis what does it mean to be a woman in this time.

In the book entitled Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen, she posits:

‘If you identify as a woman, what is it about yourself that informs you that you are a woman? What identifies other people as women to you?’

These are important questions.


I see where my definition of being a woman is born out of my Christian-Colonial upbringing, my education, my government and my life experience. All of these are deeply entrenched within a [white] male construct.

So here I am in the twenty-first century struggling to de-construct all of this. The constant use of words such as feminine, female, empowerment, goddess, priestess, empress and the like are tossed around like confetti in conversations, assuming that we have a common inner-standing of their respective meanings.

When I reflect upon the trials faced and overcome by my matrilineal heritage, women like Anne Frank, Rosa Parks and an endless list of others, I am humbled by the extent to which they suffered so that I can now ‘enjoy’ the use of aforementioned terms. It seems like daily we’re hearing horror stories of women who have been traumatized which results in a re-traumatization of millions of women who have suffered silently for ions of time.

I was struck by the recent use of the term ‘angry white male,’ and tried to juxtapose it against a label that I’ve had affixed to me by friends, family and strangers alike – ‘angry black female.’ I believe there is a general consensus that there is a clear distinction in this primal emotion when it diverges along the lines of both race and gender.

Though we mightn’t consciously think of ourselves as such, the world as we see and experience it is a direct reflection of who we are – individually and collectively – imperfections and all. As these various boils continue to ripen, burst and ooze their puss upon humanity, know that they have been growing for quite some time. We – the human collective – are being pushed, prodded, poked and provoked to act. Instead, we react.

How can we possibly hear ourselves and each other when we’re all screaming at once?

Having spent more than half my life on this planet working in the field of diplomacy there is at least one thing I’ve learned: pay close attention to what’s NOT being said. Is the elephant even pink?

So after days of feeling like a ‘bounce-about,’ this latest social media campaign prompted me to attempt to gather my thoughts. Black Friday, Black Tuesday, blackmail and now Blackout.

I choose not to be blacked out – be it by alcohol or anything else for that matter. As an overweight, Black child from a ‘broken’ home, I have deeply and lovingly invested my life in not making myself invisible to anyone, not least of all my Self.

We [women] already know that we hold up half the sky. We already know that the future is female. We already know that the preservation of humanity itself lives in our hearts, our hands and our wombs.

NOW, can we pause long enough to listen to each other – from a place of deep respect and unconditional love?

Image by: Kevin A. Williams, aka WAK

Maeve Nelligan