What Revolution Looks Like

“I cannot know who am if you do not know who you are.

Will you help me know?”

A Huey P. Newton Story

I was chatting with my good friend over at Life As I Know it this past weekend during that insane downpour in NYC which is still going on now and I mentioned some issues I experience when I’m blogging here with regard to my own identity. In this new world, we write and record things for public consumption which often sit in the draft position forever and never get seen. For whatever reasons, we doubt ourselves, have fears about what others will think, have trouble connecting to our authentic selves and back down into the seeming safety of silence where we serve no one, not even ourselves.

It was in one of these unseen drafts that I said I am not a revolutionary even if I do and say revolutionary things. But I call bullshit on myself because I think that’s a cop-out. I just have a hard time taking responsibility for the enlightenment of others because it means I am responsible. And that’s just it. I AM! We all are. Otherwise, what is the point of this life we’ve been given?

Brown Girls Blythe
Three Black Blythes

In 2008 I became obsessed with a collectors doll called Blythe. Shortly after purchasing my own first Blythe Doll I began to see Black versions of her which I could not find for sale. When I discovered that collectors were painting their white dolls Black, I inquired online with collectors and customizers and learned everything I needed to know in order to make one myself. In doing so I created a doll that was one of a kind, and the first of several. It was an incredible feeling. The politics of color with regard to doll manufacturing is crazy. “Skin Trade” by Ann DuCille helped to to understand a bit about that world and how it affects young girls of color.

Reconstructing a pattern of oppression so that it reflects images that you seek and are familiar with in a world that is dominated by ideals from the dominant culture is nothing if not revolutionary.Through doing so in this regard, I have connected with some incredibly creative women who do revolutionary things within this hobby which I am endlessly inspired by. Photographers, crafters, diminutive seamstresses and much more.

My mom was revolutionary when she replaced white baby Jesus with a Black one in the elaborate nativity scene she would put under our Christmas tree each year and when she designed ornaments that represented the animal hierarchy in the mythological Tree of Life connecting Heaven to the Underworld.

Like the history of people of color, revolution has never had only one face, one name, one story, one movement. And that has never been so obvious as it is now with the internet and social media being used to promote the work and voices of innovators, entrepreneurs, educators artists and activists alike. We all have the opportunity to revolt against injustice in our own way.

For myself, I will work hard on not letting my own rigid ideas of what it means to be revolutionary keep me from sharing my own unique voice with others. Because you can never know how revolutionary you are if you keep your light hidden out of fear.

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