I could tell you all the things that The Good Love Project represents for women like me. I could 'sugarcoat' my view on how we come in more FLAVORS than "sugar, spice, and everything nice". However, the only way to SHOW you what Good Love really means is to share MY story. As a young girl growing up in the Caribbean, I was told: Children should be seen and not HEARD. You may see how that could be a problem for a girl whose dream was to be a singer...
I was moved by music at an early age in ways I didn't understand. From the very first encounter, I became aware of the FREEDOM, power and magic which music held. I could feel it as tangibly as I could see the light of the sun or taste the salt in the ocean. Music was a primal, visceral, emotional language my soul knew how to speak without knowing why. It intrigued and terrified me because it gave me a VOICE I was taught never to use; one that was uncensored, opinionated and revealing. How dare I be so loud, attention-seeking and imposing? How dare I be so uninhibited, uninterrupted and free? And who was I to be seduced by such wild and passionate ideas before the age of 5?
I had always been precocious. The youngest of 4, I took an early interest in the way everything worked. But with that came a sensitivity to how EVERYONE worked and how they responded to my intelligence and maturity. So I learned to quiet that little girl who was often too loud, too smart, too talkative, too inquisitive, too emotional and too honest for her own GOOD. I stopped answering questions in class because I would be teased by other students for knowing the answers. I stopped ASKING questions because one teacher told my parents I challenged their authority too much. In college, friends would ask, "What are you thinking?" and I'd smile and say "nothing" even though my head was full of ideas. As a young adult, I stopped having real conversations with people because I had INTERNALIZED the idea of "being seen and not heard".
I spent years living my life on this principle before I realized what I was doing. I will never forget an exercise I did in a forum I took three years ago. We had to look into the eyes of a total stranger for two minutes without saying a single word. During those two minutes I thought only about how BEST I could hold space for this person in front of me: to give them all that they needed to get from our non-verbal exchange. So what this woman gave to me at end of the exercise came unexpectedly... "You matter" she said. I smiled bashfully and nodded OK. But she looked me in they eye and said it again. "You matter." I don't know what struck me more: the fact that she was able to see a void aching to be filled, or the fact that I wasn't. Those words planted a seed in me which I'm still watering today.
You see, the biggest problem about teaching children to be seen and not heard, is that you diminish their self-worth. You teach them to silence themselves in service of others, to hold space for every thought, opinion and point of view but their own. It's hard to write this even now because I have to recall all the times that I buried my SELF-EXPRESSION over the years. I held my tongue, dismissed my own thoughts, undermined my own feelings and muted my own voice. I had turned my VOLUME all the way down. Luckily, MUSIC was still there in the background, gently reminding me of who I was underneath who I had conditioned myself to be. I wrote songs about the real Keba, that no-one had ever really heard. I preserved her personality in lyrics, rhythms and melodies and began to sing her untold stories out LOUD...GOOD LOVE is my story: a freedom song which celebrates the journey of a sassy but sweet afro-Caribbean girl who found the courage to use her voice again.
I wrote GOOD LOVE to remind myself and every woman that we are meant to be seen AND heard because who we are and what we have to say MATTERS. In my childhood, I may not have had much say but today I have every intention of defining my womanhood for the generations to come. I put that S*** on everything.
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