Are you here?
Breathe in, Breathe out
You are here now.
This one goes out to my young Black British Millennial trying to negotiate their place in the system. A system that did not have you in mind when it was built. A system that has lied often, that has changed the rules mid-game.
This one goes out to the discouraged.
This one goes out to the disheartened.
This one goes out to the dismayed.
This one goes out to you.
This one goes out.
I write to you having stood in the place that you are standing, standing with you in that place. Having grown through, having come through and arrived at the realisation that it is my time now, your time now, our time is now.
It was the end of 2015 when I decided to finally shed the weight that I had carried for so long, the weight that had stifled me, stopped me in my tracks, made me doubt myself, question my integrity and quenched the fire of passion inside my being. Made up of fear, bad experiences, self-doubt and the reality of the lack of spaces for a young black woman in my industry, this weight had consumed my thoughts, used its load to suffocate and diverge any decision I wanted to step into.
Intentionality. It took a decision, a brief moment of clarity within the haze. A resolve to push forward despite what was behind, to stand on the edge of the precipice of my fears and jump in. Two years later I celebrate full consortium PhD funding, invitations to share my work internationally and two summers dancing at the prestigious L’Ecoles des Sables in Senegal.
In this short time many invaluable lessons have been learned, pride lost, pride gained. And now, now it is time, time for you to make your own resolution, to walk in excellence and begin a new journey. There are many adventures awaiting you, but before you go, I want to share three essentials keys with you, that have proven their worth to me.
Drop the Weight
The moment has come to block out those voices that whisper words of negativity whenever you have an idea or inspiration, whenever you want to take a risk. It is time to take hold of your future and the things that influence you. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Find what you are passionate about and work hard, because anything of worth never comes without sacrifice. Work hard because this ethic alone will bring you many opportunities. Work hard because the truth is the beauty of your brown skin means that certain privileges will not be afforded to you… so work hard.
Go the Extra Mile
In keeping with working hard, going the extra mile will be the thing that makes you stand out, that gives you that edge, so do that little bit more, stay up a little bit longer, read that extra chapter, go to that event, ask questions, request meetings. Run that extra mile because the reward at the end is great.
I want to see you win, because when you win, I win. When you win, we all win and there is room for us all. Inhabit these truths and take the opportunity of the now. Whether you’re a fresher, final year or postgrad this is your year and your time. There is no other time but this and we are waiting to see what you are made of.
Tia-Monique Uzor is an AHRC and Midlands3cities Doctoral Training Partnership candidate based at De Montfort University, where she also lectures part-time in Dance. Her research explores issues of identity, cultural traffic, popular dance and sexuality within African and African Diasporic Dance. She has been publishing her research since 2013, her latest book chapter Negotiating African Diasporic Identity in Dance is due to be published later this year. She aspires to contribute in bringing discourses around dance of Africa and the African diaspora to the forefront within academia in the United Kingdom. Follow her at @TiaMoniqueUzor