This post is the result of some inspiration I got in late September 2016 while searching for images relating to a topic. I either didn't use the right search terms or this was one of those times I needed to look through somebody's cellphone (I was going to say Instagram but uhh, we proceed) for creative inquisitiveness' sake. The search term was "black best friends" as I had used an image depicting best friends in my 5 Lives post. I had also been reading a lot to feed my mind at that time so there were some deeper issues that also contributed to this post, I hope you enjoy reading this as much I did writing it!
First we look at I, I is the individual. Finding your individual importance helps to shape what you give out and what you wish to receive. What are you giving out? This should be your security within yourself, your innermost convictions and your identity. These come together as the presence that you represent, and will attract or draw you to those who represent an aspect of the commonalities you like in a friend, a leader, an artist. You find the best of what you need within yourself and from there, you can search for people who take what you have to the next level, this helps in continual improvements of self.
How do you show out for you? Being present, attentive to your current motives, identifying what is a priority in your growth. Being present is living within each moment, when you are invited to an event in your field don't think about shortcomings or where you would rather be. Enjoy that moment, observe the energy around you, learn from the interactions of others (all of this can be used as material, depends on what kind of creative you are though 😁). Continually find ways to feed yourself, your mind, to feed yourself creatively. Check in with yourself, how are you doing? where do you want to be? where are you currently? You ensure to show out for self through caring for self, loving self, growing self & maintaining self-confidence.
- Adjust the perspective & not the lens. -
Once you achieve showing out for self and knowing how to show out for yourself, you can help others. You can represent others, by standing up and spreading that confidence. The best kind of security that you can give to others is the security that you have in yourself. You cannot give what you don't have and you cannot represent a people that you have never seen, by that I mean if you want people to care for your presence you have to care about them. Standing up for others means that you have to realize that your platform, your authority, your presence isn't for you alone. There are people watching, both young and old who need to know if there's somebody who understands them, somebody who can amplify the sound of their realities to those who just don't get it yet. Representing those who can identify something in what you do and in who you are requires a desire to build and not to break down, it is knowing when to use your voice and when to listen. When you are the representation, you may feel the weight of accountability on your shoulders this just reminds you of the position you hold and acts as a point for identifying what you need in order to continue.
Wanting representation is not only an image, a platform, a presence or a person but it is a collective of stories told through the lives of those who show you how to hold on through thick and thin, who shine a different light on life's path and its art. We require that collective to maintain its passion, its drive and not allowing itself to be diluted or fall under the weight of pressures from those who do not understand its importance. The reason why this is so important is, the presence of representation gives you something to continually look to which keeps something alive within your being. SO the last thing you need is a loss of that representation or its retraction from spaces where it is needed and from communities where it is needed.
Representation is not a lone responsibility, anybody can be used at any time. Anybody can occupy that space which means that the needed voice is not only found through you but others also. Get ready to be brought out of your comfort and to bring others out of their comfort work together and work on each other. As you help others to come out of their comfort and into the reality of what they have stored within; you will learn to speak less and let them have their moment. Since representation is not a lone responsibility there cannot be fights for spaces to occupy and you cannot break others down to become more visible. Representation is standing together, it is collaborating in spaces to speak out and to make unity infectious. Unity is infectious to those you represent when and ONLY when they can see that each person has their season and gives support to others out of season, when this is understood then those who are represented are given the fuel necessary to care for self and secure their space.
One of the principles of representation is "constructive criticism" and knowing how to do that is even more valuable. This is very important in spaces of education, legal practice and jobs but let me focus on legal and education. When you are placed in an educational space where those who may look like you or identify with something in you have something that brings you in direct conversation it is important to watch your words - how you say them, what you say and the actions after they are said. Nobody is asking you to feed such individuals sugar-coated lies and not to call them out on their ish but use the security they have in you to bring it down to earth, then work through problem and solution with them. Encouragement and showing them what they can't see for themselves is part of being the representation - you unveil chests in life that people didn't know they could search for or even have access to.
Legally, stereotypically this one requires rising above and thinking clearly for yourself. In this space you will come across various individuals for various reasons, they all have a story and so do you. You may find those whose story is YOUR story, much like education you must watch your words and be representative in your speech.. talk like somebody who knows those grievances, that loss, those situations. Your work calls for you to reflect the law in whatever capacity that may be but life's journey also requires you to be the collective of stories and experiences which keeps something alive in those who you represent IN & OUT of your career. Whether authority lies in something reputable or less recognized those who you represent require you to know how to deal with people like them in some capacity through communication and presence in a way that doesn't look to breaking a people but building better communities.
Last but not least how do you encourage someone who may be in hiding ? Well don't we all have somebody who stands out, who we secretly wish we were as bold as because they just embody a great energy and presence when they are around. Make them aware of what they carry and where opportunities arise push them into those spaces to use their voice, their talent or whatever it may be to help them continually build themselves. Sometimes all that somebody needs is to continually be placed in spaces where what they have to offer cannot be hidden and often needs to be shared. Encouraging someone to come out of hiding requires continual encouragement but not just words, it is necessary to include actions such as signing them up to shows or events and calling on the assistance of those around them to make that person realize that they hold something valuable.
" Representation means that something represents an image different from everything else that we have seen out there. Break the mold, do not fit in ! Look at the environment and see how you can suit it to make the best experience for yourself. Where the experience can't be created by you reach out to others & build it together. Somebody needs you as their representation and essentially somebody needs the chance to be your representation also ! "
(I found this blog post early October 2016 when I was looking through an artist's Instagram page who had drawn Laquann Dawson.)