I suppose that since I am the newest contributing writer to OnyxTruth, it’s only fitting that I introduce myself to you readers. My name is Teairha. I am an Eternal Optimist. That’s not just a character trait, but it’s quite literally what I do in my day to day. It’s even what’s printed on my business card.
Maybe I should start over.
Hello there. I’m Teairha. I’m the author of Growing Through Grief: A Poet’s Journey From Pain To Peace and I am also an Eternal Optimist. I show up in the world by shining the light of childlike optimism on the souls and spirits of others. By encouraging others in positivity and love, I champion the idea of vibrantly thriving in life, and soaring to whatever highest heights your passions and purpose declare as its chosen mission. I am a mother of three, a sexual trauma survivor, and an overcomer of numerous adversities in my lifetime. None of these have stopped me from serving as a purpose-driven advocate for humanity and participating as an all-around student of life. I’m the biggest cheerleader that people can and do change. Daily. And I absolutely refuse to give up. That’s who I am.
I have noticed, that in today’s fast paced world, we are busily bombarded by mainly negative commentary on our televisions, in our everyday online and personal exchanges and in our newsfeeds. I can’t tell you how many fights, arguments and embarrassing episodes I’ve witnessed online. I can only note that the staggering number of hurtful and harmful exchanges, even the ones I found humor or entertainment in, have caused me to shift the way I interact with people online and in person.
I can admit now, that I was one of the people contributing to the raucous noise of the web, and the incident that made me change how I interact with people online was one sparked by a friend who checked me about something I posted a few years ago. I guess it all really began with a meme that I shared on my page. It was one of those pictures of the stereotypical “ghetto fabulous” woman with long flamboyant fingernails and a multi-colored weave styled in a high updo. I don’t remember the caption specifically, but I know it was one that was pretty racially divisive and derogatory in nature. Of course at the time I felt I had the “right” to contribute my opinion to the senseless noise of the internet by posting it. The meme immediately prompted a response condemning me for of all things, “leaning on black people (in a negative and hurtful way), when nearly everyone else already does”—a comment that stung a bit only because I thought that by pointing out what I perceived as the errors of my peoples ways, that I was helping. It didn’t occur to me until much later that the people who I thought my tough love approach helped, actually never received my messages at all. Instead, at the time, I did what everyone does who experiences this brand of cognitive dissonance—I played the self-righteous, I’m entitled to express my own opinion, I just told the truth—card.
Maybe it’s just me.
Have you ever been so passionately engaged in an online debate that you find yourself circling back to quips or points made during the discussion even after its over and done with? You don’t have to look far for what I call, “trigger topics”. Any racial, political or religious polarity has the potential to detonate and explode until the opponents find themselves looking for more laptop ammo to demolish each other with and the war of words ensue.
Still, for a while after this exchange, I found myself somewhat haunted by the idea that my constructive criticism of certain black people could have possibly been misconstrued. It wasn’t that I purposely set out to fire a direct blow in an attempt to char the character of one of my fellow sisters. And it wasn’t until long after a bit of back and forth with a friend of mine that his words really began to resonate that I realized that my judgement call wasn’t just displaced, it was entirely unnecessary. I had become a bully, and didn’t even realize it. I had to step back and realize a few things.
I remembered that everyone doesn’t come from the same background. It took a bit of prodding, but I had to truly recognize that the social mores and standards that I grew up believing as the “right” way to dress, be, and act were all in place long before I came into being. I had been indoctrinated to believe in these cultural ideals because they came from other people who were also strongly encouraged to believe that certain ethics and in this case, aesthetics were appropriate as well. As much as I embraced the morals, ideologies and standards of beauty that I upheld were mine, I don’t get to hold a patent on what someone else considers beautiful. I realized that to some, what I hold in high esteem as proper behavior, a respectable first name, or even my own entire “cultured” existence has always been shaped by those who influenced my beliefs. On the flip side, I might be even worse off—because I fell victim to the pressure of my peers. I learned that I needed to be less judgmental and more tolerant. I learned that what I had done to the sister in the meme by mocking her and sharing it was a disservice to her, and that whatever path of life she was on was not for me to ridicule or speculate on, but that it was her choice to wear, be called, or even to simply, be, whatever she wanted. And that’s okay.
So what does any of this have to do with you? Well, I just want you to keep this consideration in mind. What goes online, stays online. That’s the footprint you leave behind. What do you want to be known for? I think it’s probably a good idea to be only as opinionated as you are willing to admit you’ve put your foot in your mouth. If you readers at OnyxTruth, truly value the truth as much as I think you do, then I’m sure you can appreciate that the highly publicized antagonism that we see and reflect to one another is not a complete and accurate depiction of how our day-to-day worlds really are. Most of us are good people; we’re the givers, caretakers and providers for those closest to us. That at the heart of it all, the good work that happens daily among all of us, could very well ultimately fade into the background if we aren’t careful about what we intake and what we release back into society as our collective cultural footprint. I’d like to see a less combative online society. Which is why, during this first segment, I hope that you’ll consider exercising the lost art of forgiveness. Try to be a good sport about life and whatever you do, try not to lose focus on the fact that you should be most focused on your lane. Have an amazing day and be the change you want to see.
Teairha L Washington