This Black History Month, I am sharing 28 stories of Black women who shaped me and showed me the way towards liberation. Because Black women are often not cited for their ideas, I thought this would be one way to give flowers to those who influenced me.
On Day 6, I’d like to celebrate Sonya Renee Taylor for what I’ve learned from her about radical self-love, abundance, reciprocity, and joy.
Sonya is an artist, activist and author of The Body is Not an Apology, a book that has been a huge part of my own journey to celebrate my own Black body. Similar to Sonya, I received a lot of messages throughout my life about how my body, my voice, my hair, my ideas, my spirit - MY EVERYTHING - was too much. I took up too much space, time, and oxygen. Society wants women - particularly Black women - to shrink until we disappear. Sonya Renee Taylor’s work says f*** all that. Sonya writes about her own journey towards radical self acceptance, saying, “Slowly, and often painfully, I started to risk moments of authenticity. I started to share my opinion without apology. I started laughing loudly, without embarrassment. I started creating and growing into myself. And slowly I started to believe that perhaps I did have the right to take up space. Perhaps I had not only the right, but the obligation to love myself as I was.” (https://lnkd.in/gSfXG7QW) From Sonya, I’ve learned to embrace taking up space and celebrating my body and personality as is. No changes needed. We are not just enough. We are each truly magnificent - and the world is better when we take up space.
Sonya teaches that self love is a pathway to justice and liberation. Radical self love is not just about what we think about ourselves individually. It is about how the impact of radical self love affects the collective. Through her work, Sonya Renee Taylor is fighting body terrorism, which she explains is how systematic and structural oppression is inflicted on marginalized bodies. Radical self love helps us find our way to freedom, and it is contagious. When people see others being free, they want some of that freedom, too. So radical self love gives us *all* permission to love ourselves and move toward our own liberation. Radical self love gives way to radical HUMAN love - which allows us to embrace and celebrate not only ourselves but each other - just as we are.
Picture credit: Slowking4 via Wikimedia Commons; Image Description: Sonya Renee Taylor at a podium, wearing gold earrings and a black and white chevron pattern dress.