Writing Past Impediments and Setting the Stage for Success
by Dr. Loni
Welcome to September 13th, the 256th day of the year, the day the American actress Nell Carter was born in 1948, and in 2007 the day the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
September is the time of year that sets the stage; autumn greets us and we get more serious with the new academic and fiscal calendars ahead of us. New pencils, notebooks, and sheets of pristine white paper call for us to make a mark and beckon a renewed sense of productivity. The seasonal breezes and colored foliage encourage us to try out new outfits and improve our own appearance, almost as an expression of appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us.
With the stage set, September seems to ask us, channeling Homey the Clown from In Living Color:
“So what you gonna do?”
As a writer, your reply should be seen in the words you share with the world, as much as it seen in how you live your life. Today would have been Nell Carter’s 67th birthday. When you read her personal story, the moments of pain and tragedy that appear throughout her life would seem to contradict the accomplishments of her professional career. Some of the givens in her life set the stage for her not to have had a successful career, but to exist in the downtrodden manner that American society seems to suggest as acceptable for women of color. If Ms. Carter was able to become a person that contradicted the givens of her life, as a writer September re-sets of the stage of life asking you:
“How will you write past any of the impediments of your life that seek to derail you?”
The Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples is both inspirational and sad. Inspirational, for it details how governing bodies should deal with indigenous people and sad that we must declare that no group of people should be exploited or treated with disregard. It is also sad that the country in which I make my home and of which I am a citizen, the United States of America, was one of the four countries which voted against this declaration.
If the declaration is an inspirational document full of promise and opportunity, then it follows that we must determine how it can be used to improve the lives of indigenous people. Considering this example, as a writer, ask yourself:
What are the impediments to my writings and, more importantly, what are the declared rights to which I am entitled that I might use to move past these impediments?
My challenge/question to every person reading this and, in particular, those who can identify with being part of an indigenous community:
How will you go about claiming the rights which have been declared to be yours and writing about the process so the rest of the world can support you?
Remember what Audre Lorde so beautifully reminded us: “Your silence will not protect you.” It is time to start writing past all the impediments in your life that seek to derail you. And so it is.
Dr. Loni is an independent scholar, author of For the Sake of My Sanity: One Woman’s Journey of Speaking Truth to Power and Ignorance and co-author of Peer and Sexual Harassment. When not writing, she travels the country growing the network of Readers & Writers Meetup groups. Visit her at DrLoni.com and SistersReadingSisters.com.