To the mad people in my comments: Tell your own story

TypewriterOn May 25, 2016, I published “Mind your own womb,” about some of the struggles of women who want to conceive and others who already have. When I wrote it, I had no idea it would go viral. It actually started as a simple Facebook post, but it got so long that I decided to move it over here to my blog. I assumed I would get the usual assortment of shares and likes and that would be that. But it touched so many people and I’m truly grateful for that. I always hope that the things I write are beneficial to someone, even if its just me.

But what I’ve noticed (and this is common) is that anytime I write something that gets popular, there are people who cry, “What about me? You didn’t tell my story!” The only reply I have for those people is that you have to tell your own story. I say this not because I’m unwilling to tell it and not because I don’t think it has value, but because there CANNOT be only one story. There just can’t be. That blog could have gone on for another two thousand words and some women still would have been left out. No one person can do it all. If this world is going to work, if people are going to see and understand and receive each other, it will be because of the varied stories we tell that allow others to truly see us for who we are, no filter or distortions.

This is the message I tried to get across in this FB video, but I’m a better writer than I am a speaker so… just check it out.

MY BFIMH (best friend in my head) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks so eloquently about the danger of the singular story. To quote her 2009 Ted Talk (which I highly suggest you watch in its entirety), “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” That is not what I am here to do. I am fully aware that there are people who exist outside of those I describe. I know there are ideas, circumstances and emotions I have not shared. This is not to be exclusive, but only to be focused. My intention in everything I write is to share MY perspective. That perspective may mirror yours or it may be nothing like it, but it is mine always. So on those days where my perspective rubs you the wrong way, rest assured that there is more than enough space for you to share your own. And know the world will be better off because of it.

As a black Muslim woman, I stay on the outskirts of representation. Discussions of black women rarely include me spiritually, and discussions of Muslim women rarely include me racially and culturally. (Plus I’m just kinda weird in general so I don’t really fit with nobody!) But that’s why I have a whole separate blog dedicated to the intersection of race, religion and female bodies. Because what I’m not gon’ do is wait for other people to speak on my behalf. Nah, son. Can’t do it. If I’m feeling lonely in the dark, I’ll light a candle and make my own light.  This is a message marginalized/under-represented/misrepresented peoples really need to make use of. Wait for no one to champion your cause.

To that, some people may say, “But not everyone is a writer. We don’t all have the resources and ability to create a platform.” Understood, but if your story is important enough that you felt the need to give me an earful in the comments section of my blog, then you need to use your network to find the right people who can help you make it happen. Every day, cultural narratives are being maintained and changed based on the new stories that emerge and the old stories that linger. Don’t think you have to be a bystander in that.

~Nadirah Angail

Photo credit: Florian Klauer, Unsplash