Our Worthiness Needs No Qualification (w/ Brittany Janay)

Brittany Janay shares a liberated love note of accountability, challenging the the injected forms of oppression that suggest Black bodies are only worthy or deserving IF. Our worthiness needs no qualification. She shares that we must reject those lies and calls on us to affirm our inherent worthiness despite the broader social order or the organizational systems in which we exist. 

You can connect with Brittany on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check out her personal website.

Learn more about Liberated Love Notes.


Brittany: Welcome back, y’all. This is the Liberated Love Notes podcast, a podcast from the Living Corporate network, hosted by yours truly Brittany Janay, creator of Liberated Love Notes: Critical Self-Reflections & Affirmations for the Culture. Liberated Love Notes is, of course, your weekly dose of self-reflection, affirmation, and re-imagining for us, by us, and so this week’s Liberated Love Note is a love note of accountability. I actually think that one of the most beautiful, most impactful manifestations of love is being held accountable. If someone experiences me in a way that is not a reflection of who I have the capacity to be and who I inherently am, I absolutely appreciate that their love and critique as one that ultimately wants to see me show up in ways that are more reflective of who I intend to be. If you see me acting out the side of my neck, talking out the side of my neck, if you love me, you’re going to say something. If you know something that perhaps I don’t know that could be of service to me, if you love me, you’re going to say something. And so I use that framework because this week’s Liberated Love Note is one of accountability. I want to start by sharing that part of my internal work, the intra-personal work–actually, what I heard referred to on a panel a few weeks back, a panel that bell hooks was moderating years ago, someone referred to it as “self-abolition work,” and that hit when they said that, self-abolition work. The introspection that I have personally been engaging in more intentionally over the last few months has really been around disrupting all the ways in which white supremacy and injected oppression show up in me. I use the term injected oppression intentionally, and that often times is referred to as internalized oppression, which is fair, and I recognize that white supremacy is so covert and we are socialized in the ways that are so subtle that sometimes it is absolutely beyond our control. Literally injected. When I talk about injected oppression, I’m referring to those learned norms and standards that Black people are exposed to, and expected to align with, that are based on whiteness. Injected oppression might sound like, you know, “HBCUs aren’t as valuable as PWIs. That experience ain’t as rich or as realistic as the real world.” It may look like choosing to align how we show up with standards associated with whiteness. It may even look like adopting a mindset that qualifies our worthiness, right? Our inherent worthiness. Because if whiteness tells it, we are only worthy if and when. There’s always some sort of qualifier. I offer that because a lot of my work over the past few months has been disrupting that. It has been owning my inherent worthiness, and not just owning my inherent worthiness. It’s been me holding myself accountable to ensure that I am seeing, recognizing, naming the inherent worthiness in all Black folks, other Black bodies. We live in a culture of power and domination that would suggest, like I said, we’re not enough. We’re only worthy if. Even when we’re doing the, for lack of better terms, ‘right things.’ even when we are ‘successful’ we’re not enough. Our being is not enough. That we must do things this way, say things this way, look this way, to be seen as worthy, and that is absolutely a lie. That is absolutely a lie. Despite what the broader systems of anti-Blackness tells us, despite what the broader system of white supremacy and colonialism would suggest, we are absolutely worthy just because. Zach said it in an episode last week, “We don’t have to be perfect to be worthy. We are worthy just because.” And so I really take issue, and so I’m going to bring this home because having that context, I take issue when we, even if it is unknowingly, adapt the same framework, rationale, or what Sonya Renee Taylor would describe as white supremacist delusion, when we adapt framework that would suggest we need to be acting a certain way in order to be worthy of living. I take issue with that, y’all. It’s like when we adapt it it hits different. I have built up a lot of capacity to disregard the shenanigans of whiteness and even guard myself and levelset my expectations of whiteness, but the way my love and understanding and compassion and graciousness is towards us, it hit different. It’s different when I hear Black folks, us, rationalizing the murder of a child. One of our own. I take issue when we [?] Audre Lorde. Audre Lorde reminds us that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” I take issue when we are still pulling from the toolbelt of white supremacy, when we use that framework to rationalize the death of a Black girl, a child. I take issue with questions even being thrown out there, “Well, I don’t know if it’s justified or not.” Nah. I affirm today that we will not, we do not, we cannot, we should never adapt whiteness’ lens of what and who is valuable, who is worthy, who is deserving, and we certainly shouldn’t be adopting that lens in how we see each other. We will not. We absolutely will not. Ma’Khia Bryant was a Black girl who was worthy of protection, who was worthy of love, who was worthy of the benefit of the doubt, who’s worthy of pause to de-escalate, who’s worthy of being seen as a child, who’s worthy of living, because Black bodies deserve all that inherently. We don’t have to prove ourselves to be deserving of protection. We don’t have to prove ourselves to be deserving of love. We don’t have to prove ourselves to be deserving of benefit of the doubt. Children don’t have to. Our children don’t have to prove themselves to be worthy of being seen as a child. In fact, I’ve been thinking about this inclination to even lean into exceptionalism. And so, exceptionalism – woulda, coulda, shoulda – is “What I would have did differently,” or “What she should have did,” and all the reasons why or all of the reasons that would make one exceptional [?] not in that scenario, is a trauma response. I would suggest that that is absolutely leaning into, “Well, she should’ve did this.” That dehumanization is a trauma response, and that is absolutely why I’m mindful and gracious and compassionate and understanding in how this is more about what we have internalized and been injected with regarding our worthiness. And I want to make sure that we are holding ourselves selves accountable. Any time something happens to a member of our community, another Black body, our immediate inclination should not be to lean into how we would have responded differently. It should not be to distance ourselves from those people over there. It is not our role to play devil’s advocate. In fact, he has enough. White supremacy, the bench is stacked. We don’t need devil’s advocates. We absolutely deserve better. And we absolutely can be better. My reminder, affirmation, Liberated Love Note that I would offer to you all as you kick off this week, is a reminder that we are inherently worthy. I am inherently worthy. The Black bodies that I am in community with, they too are inherently worthy. I am inherently worthy, whether or not I am wearing a suit and [?]. I am inherently worthy when I’m wearing a crop top and big hair. I am inherently worthy when I am kicked back, listening to my music. I am inherently worthy when I am in front of a classroom teaching. I am inherently worthy when I’m smoking a blunt. I don’t smoke, but if I did, I’m inherently worthy. I’m inherently worthy when I am walking the street with my kid, minding my business. I’m inherently worthy when I’m walking the street and loud. I’m inherently worthy even when my music is blasting. I’m inherently worthy when I’m wearing a sun dress. I am inherently worthy when, Black bodies are inherently worthy when their pants may be sagging. Black bodies are inherently worthy when they are just chilling and living. Black bodies are inherently worthy when they’re defending themselves. Black bodies are inherently worthy in the board room, on the corner, in the grocery store, at home, at the playground, in school, while incarcerated. Black bodies are inherently worth just because. And so we will not—y’all get the point–we will not fall into the trap of erasing, disregarding, silencing, undermining, or oppressing other Black bodies. We will not. We will absolutely not fall into that trap. Black children, Black girls, Black women, Black films, Black men, Black gender non-conforming people, fat Black people, Black queer people, Black people with disabilities, Black people who are immigrants, Black people who are and have been incarcerated, Black people at all of those intersections. Black bodies and all of our complexities are worthy. We will always be worthy and should be regarded as such. And, even when we are embedded, as many of us are, in white systems that do not know this, that do not model this in their values, practices, all the things, we will know this, and we will internalize this. “We are worthy.” We need to know this fundamentally, otherwise we are no better. And I would venture to say that we are better. We can absolutely be better. We will not use–and, not only that, it’s not just “we will not use,” we will actively reject all the ways that whiteness rationalizes our dehumanization, because we deserve better. And you know what, folks? Folks, fam? We can be better. We can be better because we are absolutely deserving of better. We are worthy. I hope you take that into the week, the liberated love note of accountability. I don’t care what these systems got going on. I don’t care what delusion white people continue to bask in. We know better. We can be better. We will absolutely do better. Much love, y’all.

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