Don’t miss our special February issue, guest edited by the incredible Phyll Opoku-Gyimah
BY PHYLL OPOKU-GYIMAH
“Four hundred years as an endangered species has taught most of us that if we intend to live, we had better become fast learners.” – Audre Lorde
One of the truths of this moment, if not its most profound irony, is that even in a global reckoning about the sanctity of Black life, white people are still centre stage. This orientation towards learning and doing better so often obscures those who have been learning and been doing – long before bloodied bodies piled up on television and phone screens amid moments of forced isolation. For Black womxn and womxn of colour, learning more and doing better are survival strategies, adopted and adapted in real time and in situ as new and existing threats (and opportunities) reveal themselves as we go about our daily lives.
Too often, we are called upon to recant or perform stories of our pain for a white audience, an audience so demonstrably ravenous and insatiable it has long been a pursuit unworthy of the work. What more needs to be said of our pain for it to land in the hearts of those who continue to inflict it? So here, in this edition of DIVA, the offering is not one of performative pain or patient hand-holding, but of intentioned reflection and exploration. Here, I assemble a literal handful of experiences that offer other Black womxn and womxn of colour a small but mighty voice that shouts out, “I see you.”
That the discrimination against and death of Black people continues to be something to “learn from” will require an unpacking far beyond the scope of this or any future edition of DIVA, so what I’ve elected to do here is demonstrate the power of asking for and collecting stories, insights and thoughts as if they were not beholden to the white gaze and white learning, as if our lives extend beyond the screen and the gun, beyond Twitter and the public spectacle of a world that eats us alive and as if our lives are far more than whatever conjuring they’ve been allowed in the public imagination.
And this is perhaps some of what this particular moment of chaos has stirred up: the importance of imagining more. It is from the wildness, the innocence, the longing of our imaginations; imaginations unchained and unrestrained, that the future we all deserve to live in is conceived.
If this small collection does anything, then it certainly confirms that in the face of it all, our lives, our hopes and our dreams are rooted in the muscle of our imaginations and in the doggedness of our desire to live the lives we deserve. I hope these voices and experiences offer to many what it has brought me during the process of collecting and editing them: a heart full of hope and a reminder that through it all – good or bad – we emerge arm-in-arm into the future.
Our February 2021 issue is on sale now at the links below.
Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.