As a woman Briana was taught at a very young age how to avoid harassment and certain labels. As a woman of colour that is amplified by showing you how to scale back your ethnic personality to avoid being seen as ignorant, confrontational or aggressive.
As a woman of colour living in Wisconsin, Briana feels a constant pressure to act a certain way, look a certain way or respond in a certain manner making her feel as though what she is doing is wrong and in fear of being labelled ignorant or too aggressive. Her dream is for everyone to not be defined by any one thing and be able to be themselves, unapologetically.
Throughout her life Briana has felt more oppression from her skin colour than being a woman. She has found her colour intimidates others and has faced blatant and direct racism. This contributes to her feeling as though she exists in a constant state of pressure, living almost in survival mode, working out what is the best course of action in any given situation. She says this even comes down to everyday scenarios; who you should travel with, needing the correct ratio of diversity to ensure safety and even then not feeling safe because of the fear of retribution if something she says is perceived as aggressive or intimidating. This is something that is typically not spoken about, and many just live it, live with the list of rules in the hope it is enough to keep them safe.
Briana was raised in a Christian household; her father was a minister and her mother was a teacher in the public school system. Due to this Briana was sent to a private school where pupils were, predominantly from white affluent society. This gave her the chance, being from an impoverished background to experience both worlds first-hand. It was during this time that, whilst out with friends from school, she was singled out by the police as someone that did not look like she should be part of the group. This taught her from a young age that the police are Institutionally part of the problem and are not going to help you, you’ve got to help yourself. It took the other pupils to convince the police that she attended the same school as them, showing she needs other people to validate the experience she was living in order to be believed.
Briana is optimistic for the future and feels that people are beginning to acknowledge their conscious and unconscious biases. George Floyd heightened awareness of this, and many people are now taking steps to unlearn unconscious biases that they were not aware they had. Often, we do not know how our own biases affect our life and how we interact with people. We need to stop relying on minority communities to educate others, instead doing the research ourselves and not being afraid to ask questions. We can all actively do things now to make things better later. We need to be comfortable with not knowing or understanding everything, as it is not our lived experience and be open to hearing different stories and voices. We tend to put too much reliance on other people to show them where they are going wrong, need to take ownership and the onus on ourselves.
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