As I write this, I have quite the visual in my head, complete with soundtrack. It’s the scene from Apocalypse Now, the helicopters in flight, one of the most iconic from the movie, and the music from Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries pushing each rotation of the helicopter forward.
Of course, while that is the picture playing on repeat in my head, it’s not beyond me that this is a movie about male egos leading to the death of innocents. It’s also not beyond me that while this is a movie shifting the paradigm of Valkyries from being badass lady killers , to some testosterone fueled helicopter feeding frenzy.
It’s more the spirit of that moment that is in my head, the emotion, this mission to do something and the call of the trumpet spurring me on. That and anger. I have anger.
Often times we are told we need to control our anger, informed that our anger is a terrible thing which needs to be harnessed, to be suppressed. Underdogs are frequently told anger is not an acceptable emotion to embrace, regardless of the situation one finds themselves in. But damn, I am angry.
I’m angry we have to fight so hard sometimes just to have our voices heard at whisper levels. I’m angry I have to explain why a man being rewarded for harassment with a promotion is not ok. I’m angry that I have to explain why a man getting accolades for the exact same thing that a woman did, and as visibly, is also not ok. I’m angry I have to find ways to be an agreeable woman in a world that sees a vocal woman as challenging.
This quarter I started reading Brittney Cooper’s book Eloquent Rage. It was the first time I felt it was ok to be angry, and not only ok , but to embrace the emotion of it as a positive and not a negative. Frequently, at least for myself, anger creates the tandem emotion of guilt for being angry in the first place. It’s my ingrained well behaved woman training where I need to be demure, and poised at all moments.
This book opened my eyes to feminism in a different way than other books had previously. Reading it from the perspective of a black feminist additionally helped put my own feminism into perspective. Feminism is about loving yourself and other women. Yet, I have been a feminist from the perspective of being a white woman. I have a face that blends into a crowd, I am afforded rights many black women are not. Such as trust just because of the color of my skin. People assume I belong in any given place because of the color of my skin. In other words, I’ve had it pretty easy.
Example: Take Mico Yuk. An incredibly successful woman who is well known in the business intelligence space. She’s been someone on my radar for a number of years now, she has books, owns her own business, travels the world. She is what I would love to be one day. Yet, she is still treated differently because of the color of her skin.
It bothers me that more people aren’t angry. Why is this the new normal? Why do so many individuals accept the undermining of other people and think nothing of it? We as a nation no longer promote the idea that standing up for others is the right choice. When did that become ok? It is not acceptable when we justify individual’s behavior because they “branded” themselves successfully in one area. It is also not ok to allow poor treatment of others because it doesn’t effect us personally.
We have a voice, and if we aren’t using it then we are part of the problem. Sitting idly by, twiddling our thumbs, will not propel the change forward that needs to happen.
This is where you come in Underdog. You have a voice. We collectively have a greater voice than the ones who are ruling the narrative today. You can speak out and you should. If you aren’t heard on your own, grab another underdog and shout till they do hear you.
If you see someone treating someone poorly, do not be quiet. Be an advocate. Stand up for the other person. Be George McFly in Back to the Future when he punches Biff because he’s groping his lady and that’s not right damn it. He’s had enough!
I’m not advocating violence, I would never do that. But I am advocating using your voice for the power of good. To bring about change that needs to happen and to stop accepting that we don’t help each other anymore.
I’ve started doing this in my real life and on my professional life.
Will you make the pledge to do this? We can do this together.
Embrace your anger to bring about positive change.