I’ve had a hard time coming back here to create content when 2020 has brought so many of us in America and around the world to our knees.
When I started Femme Next Door, I aspired to create a space for the modern girl to share her perspective. I was emboldened by the idea that this girl was wildly underestimated. That she is out there but flies under the radar. She lives differently! She’s the best of both worlds! I didn’t realize how my own vision of the girl next door was rooted in white supremacy. A glance at my Pinterest board regretfully shows endless pins of white French girls or brands that were ultimately shaped by creative teams who are mostly white. My significant other is white as well as a good half of my friends. I thought surely being an Asian American woman from the South gave me an inherently different angle.
I am proud that the perspectives shared here attempt to be different in terms of context and content. But I can’t deny the fact that so much of what I used to think was beautiful and interesting was largely rooted in what white women would approve of, share, re-pin, or be comfortable with. I didn’t realize I was trying so hard to stand out in a white-dominated blogging industry.
How dare I think equality was common sense when representation on my very own blog wasn’t even common sense to me? That seed of awareness is now firmly planted into my psyche. I can’t shake nor do I want to abandon this new lens. What I once saw as interesting before is now prefaced with asking why. What metrics or standards am I basing my opinions, and furthermore, why am I putting it out into the world?
My writers and I tried earnestly to indulge our intimate thoughts, but it is clear we need to evolve with this awareness and to be active. I was completely unmotivated as the pandemic rolled through the better half of this year, as a result of what I learned was a survival tactic called fight or flight. It is only now I can see the full potential of Femme Next Door after waking up to the racial and social reckoning we are all grappling with.
For the past few weeks, I took my frustrations out on my social media channels. I couldn’t understand why any decent human in 2020 could be okay with the murder of innocent Black people, of any people, in such an inhumane way as Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery all were. The list devastatingly goes on. “This is f*cking common decency”, I’d lambast to conservative Instagram trolls. I’ve unfriended and unfollowed anyone who I thought didn’t get it. I even declared myself a Karen bounty hunter. Like so many revelations in my life, it was all or nothing. I wanted nothing to do with people who didn’t get why Black Lives Matter. A part of me still doesn’t.
It wasn’t until the recent passing of Civil Rights activist, Congressman John Lewis, that I was able to simmer down my rage enough to understand what sustained his spirit to continue fighting for civil rights. His book, Across the Bridge, shares lessons that carried his life’s work: Faith, Patience, Study, Truth, Act, Peace, and Reconciliation. Lewis’ humility and full belief in the power of each generation to make change carried him through the darkest periods of American history. He says every generation has a different fight and a different duty than the last. Through his words, I now understand ‘all or nothing’ doesn’t work. It is up to our generation to make amends by first confronting the ugliness.
More than ever I believe the womxn of our generation hold a critical role in combating racism. Take a look around your own circle of friends, the people you grew up with, the people you follow on social media, the people who are around your children. Our generation has more access to different perspectives and lifestyles than any other generation. We are already surrounded by more diversity and progress than any one person or presidential term can attempt to deny. The youth won’t unsee how expansive the world is with social media platforms at their disposal. It is up to us to redefine what it means to be a good person as it’s too easily used to excuse inaction. We’ve got to show up for others to be considered a good person.
The girl I envisioned reading this blog hasn’t fundamentally changed. She is still wildly underestimated and flies under the radar. Only now she is wide awake, brave, educated, and taking charge of important conversations. There are so many of us, and that is our power. — Juley
Feature image by: Quentin Monge