by Odetta A Fraser · 15 Jul 2020 · 6 min read
It is a fact that women of color are the most violently targeted people in the world. So, what does the #MeToo movement mean to women who have, since the beginning of time, lacked representation, lacked inclusion and had no voice? Women of color, especially black women, have been reporting harassment, rape and more since the beginning of time, and have always been silenced. The message #MeToo sent to a woman of color is, if you are wealthy (influential) and white, people will listen because you matter.
Teenage girls have it very hard. Anyone who has ever been one knows this instinctively. Navigating your newfound emergence into the contradictory social and sexual politics and expectations, where your body is weaponized against you and your value dictated by its degree of conformity to a Barbie doll, where you're either a slut if you have sex or a prude if you don't, where eating disorders are tacitly encouraged and you're constantly told to be quiet, be small and meek and always complaisant, and stay out of the way – it's a lot. Their argot is maligned, their speaking habits policed, their manner of dress demeaned and insulted as vanity, and their interests automatically deemed shallow, frivolous, and intellectually deficient by their mere association with them. In short, being a teenage girl isn't easy.
Since I was 12 years old, I have struggled with an eating disorder. For me, being a woman of color and having atypical anorexia was definitely uncommon. In my own personal experience, we never really spoke about anxiety or depression, so you can imagine the lack of conversation around having a healthy relationship with food. In the African American culture, the more curves you have the better, and if you don't have curves, you know you aren't the picture-perfect small waisted, ample-bottom stereotypical Black woman.
It's easy to be inspired when progress is being made. However, the true challenge of hope will always be to maintain it when momentum slows or, harder still, when the opposition is gaining more ground than we are. While these statements may seem obvious as we consider moments in our lives where the going got tough and the tough had to get going, it's sometimes a challenge to see these ideas represented in traditional entertainment where we can usually count on a happily ever after.
As it turns out, relationship abuse does not discriminate. Domestic violence can happen to any woman of any race, religion, education level, income, or age. A victim of relationship abuse can look like anyone — even Miss New Jersey USA.
There is something both beautiful and daunting about watching the girls you've grown up with evolve into women as you yourself are also coming into your own.
The world is undergoing a political revolution and is desperately in need of leadership. People who I call New Citizens are sick of waiting on deadlocked democracies to solve social and economic problems centuries in the making. From the left, right, and center, New Citizens no longer trust their political establishment to enact real change. They are taking matters into their own hands. Leaderless networks of New Citizens circulate information and organize action on social media. From the Yellow Vest movement in France to civil rights causes in the U.S. to the post-disaster protests in Lebanon, New Citizens come from all ages, cultures, and political perspectives. What they share is the implicit demand for a new social order that can solve globalized threats, digitize civic life, and hold elected officials accountable to their constituents.
Your best friend just got back from her honeymoon and you can't wait to hear all about it, but she still hasn't replied to your text. Now weeks have gone by, and all you've gotten was a quick response. You think to yourself: "Did I drink too much at the wedding?" "Was my present lame?" "Did I say something wrong?" No, chances are nothing you have done or are doing right now is wrong. You've just entered a different phase in your relationship: the spare tire.