Being “alright” is a radical act

In reading “The Sisters are Alright,” I was reminded of the importance of the stories that we tell ourselves. Tamara Winfrey Harris starts out by talking about the negative stereotypes of black women and then breaks down all of these stereotypes. This woman could have decided to buy into the stereotypes of black women and not challenge them. But she chose to tell a different story. Our thoughts are powerful. In fact, the way we think about ourselves is a power that no one can take away from us. Yes, systemic oppression is damaging in ways I cannot fully comprehend because of my place of privilege. I would never want to tell someone who is struggling with the injustices of the world to just get over it because we each have a responsibility to each other to preserve each other’s basic human dignity. At the same time, however, each of us has the ability to tell ourselves stories about our lives that are either positive or negative. We can be the victor or the victim. What we repeatedly think shapes who we are and how we see situations.

But making oneself alright is hard work. It takes disciplining one’s thoughts, it takes self-care, and it takes collective care. Being alright is a journey fraught with self-doubt and missteps. We decide that we are alright not once or twice but over and over again. And each time, at least for myself, that I tell myself I am alright I believe it a little bit more.

I want to commend each and every one of you for the work you do both as individuals and as group members to be alright. It’s hard to be alright in a world that is telling you that you’re very existence is not alright. But when you are not alright the oppressor wins. When we are alright and use that alright light to help others (as I’ve seen many of you do) racism doesn’t win and the patriarchy doesn’t win because we all still have hope and faith that we in and of ourselves are valuable.

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