I am Annika

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Audre Lorde once stated that if you define yourself for yourself then you leave no room for other people’s interpretation of you. It’s important for me to define myself because most of my life I’ve felt misunderstood. My mom frequently reminds me of a number of things about my childhood: how pretty I was, how diplomatic I’ve always been and how everyone thought there was something wrong with me because no one could understand a word I said for the first five years of my life. I was pretty because of my skin tone and the texture of my hair. I was diplomatic because from the time my mom could remember, I made sure everyone had equal amounts of kool-aid, chips, or whatever other snacks were distributed. I was misunderstood because my words ran together and my sister spoke so clearly and so much, that I paled in comparison.

Fast forward to today, I’m still pretty, I’m still diplomatic and I’m still misunderstood. Only now, I’ve developed an analysis around why I’m misunderstood. It’s taken me 30 years to understand that I view the world through a unique lens and that many times people do not understand what I’m saying. The problem is that my words require action and provoke thought. Sometimes people are not ready to move or change the behavior that is familiar and, often times, comforting to them. I can relate. It’s taken me this long to document my thoughts because I was, to some degree, comfortable with people listening to me but not hearing me. This is why the idea of writing a blog is exciting to me. It is my chance to let the world know who I am by sharing my thoughts while asking people to reflect on my writing and move to action where appropriate.

I acknowledge that growth is a process and who I am today may change based on a book I might read tomorrow. With that said I invite you all to join me as I discuss my viewpoints on events, both past and present, particularly as they relate to my topics of interest which include, but are not limited to:

  • Preventing violence against Black Women and girls 
  • Racial and Reproductive Justice 
  • Media representation of Black Women and girls 
  • Cultivating adult-youth partnerships 

Audre Lorde’s work really speaks to me, which is why I need to end my post with another quote of hers. She says that, “I feel I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that feel good, but the pain, the intense and often mitigating pain.” This sums it up right here. I will speak to my pain, to my struggle and to my triumphs. A commonality between five year old Annika and 34 year old Annika is that I never stopped trying to communicate with people and I never will. Welcome, I hope you stay tuned.

Annika Leonard is a participant in a collective of Black women bloggers supported by Strong Families. She is committed to the challenge of organizing against oppression - a task that has led her to direct action, critical dialogue, and to a life of service. She is an educator, mother, daughter, and survivor who lives and works in Wisconsin.