As you may know, we have been talking a lot about the harmful effects of media shaming, misrepresentation and cancel culture after allegations were made against us in February. The false statements and accusations were compounded by misrepresentations and slander and our team became targets.
Some of the bebo mia team members (very vulnerably) shared what happened after months of misrepresentation and being attacked via text, DMs, posts, and videos, which included being doxxed and receiving death threats. We are real human beings behind the keyboards and we want to share our experiences in an effort to show the very real impact that comes as a result of cancel culture, media shaming and online bullying and what can happen if we uncritically jump on the bandwagon.
In the beginning, I felt erased. My hard work as a Black woman being thrown in the garbage. Often when there is cancelation the Mob has no care or consideration for the humans on the receiving end. I felt enraged and ready to fight. But fight who? Fight a group of my “ so-called” peers ready to ignite my career over someone’s disagreement of a business offer? Fight a viewpoint that basically named me as a “borning pawn, or token” What was the point? It brought up so many childhood memories of people attempting to bully me. I say attempting because very few got through to my core personality. Alas the struggle of the cancelation did reach that core and did damage that is taking months to heal.
Damage that caused my entire body to respond. Stress setting of flares of chronic health and making me question my internal self-healing from mental illness. Pain that led to days upon days of endless tears and sadness. Withdrawing from what I hold dear in a desperate attempt to hold on to the tiny shreds of reality I knew to be true. Medications, visits to mental health supports and even holistic practitioners to work through this burning feeling of being denied my right to be myself. The awful pain that comes from seeing another Black person intentionally causing harm to another Black person. Those that spoke hurtful, painful words know who they are. It was something I thought I would never experience personally.
All in all, it felt like if I didn’t stand up for myself and build my own strength back up no one would. I grabbed on to these truths. Some people will just always be angry and it is NOT my job to fix, support or give attention to them. This world is unfair and unjust, the mob is often louder than the truth. People that are supposed to have the tenderest, loving and most non-judgmental focus can often be the most evil, insidious, and cruel humans. It was as if a sector of the birth world completely lost their bedside manner and were out for blood. They weren’t going to stop until they saw my work, my team and company up on the wall.
People who I wanted to look up to and had seen as a leader in this space were speaking to the team like we had ripped someone’s flag down and stomped on it. Treating us like we were worthless. This sensitization is akin to a propaganda movement. If you don’t tote the company line you are next, if you don’t side with me now we will come for you soon. It is awful. Once again it left me feeling like the birthworld and those with the ability to use the share button weren’t going to stop.
In the end there is a full truth, a deeper view. A view that everyone’s choice to speak is theirs to make. It is the deeper visible power of what you speak that can either pour fuel on someone while they burn or be the blanket that puts the flames out and supports their recovery. The intentions of each word we type, speak or think can literally set people up for demolition or growth. We need to be on the side of growth not destruction.
This call out was like watching a house fire, where we all stood there watching the fire grow bigger and bigger as all our hard work turned into ashes. Watching the loss of a home, years of memories, years of growth and community building burn and left feeling like we lost everything.
Watching our neighbors tell us we deserve it, we had it coming, we are fakes and
questioning our morals & truths, no matter how much we scream HELP! No one dials 911, No one asks if everyone got out of the house safely. We were cancelled.
In the midst of my processing, Michelle strongly and lovingly reminded us, “we survived the fire with more than just the clothes on our backs, we saved the most precious pieces of our household and we shall rebuild with them”
So here we are, rebuilding our home with BRICKS, no more sticks!
Wow! At my age and as a Black Elder I was DEEPLY saddened by the negative intent of others. To be pulled into a situation that had NOTHING to do with the betterment of one’s community or the betterment of the Human Race, made me “SICK!” This “Call Out” was a” Disease” caused by a physical human virus, that attacked the core of my being, the core of my community, the core of my family, the core of this organization and yes the core of Humanity.
The symptoms that I was experiencing from this disease, this CALL OUT, and could also identify from others were: Stagnation–Being brought to a dark suffocating place where there was no room to move or take a deep cleansing breath. A place where if you even tried to move it would only irritate the wounds even more.
Next, the feeling of being “Infested,” plagued by selfish acts of greed, hate, lies, division and manipulation produced headaches, loss of sleep and triggered many other ailments that I and others were not accustomed to. Then, the feeling of ” Confusion!” How could a Disease of this sort, this CALL OUT, in such a short period of time destroy so many lives? Especially, when there is “No IMMEDIATE CURE!”
Finally, “Kidnapping!” Yes! This for me is and was also a symptom of this Disease, this CALL OUT. This Call out emotionally and psychologically kidnapped Me, My Community, My Family, This Organization, and Humanity.
Emotionally, I would find myself “Crying” which would lead to me psychologically trying to make sense of it all. Well, I did not have an answer. It just did not make any sense to me! HOWEVER, all of this was real. THIS WAS NOT A DREAM!!!
The unlawful demands of this CALL OUT put ME in a very hostile hostage situation. This was not Voluntary! There was NO CONSENT for this abduction! Neither I nor anyone else asked or needed this disease that does not offer an immediate cure. Yet, it was happening and it did happen.
Now, the fight for the life of Humanity, REALLY begins! This fight is for ME , ALL FAMILIES, ALL COMMUNITIES AND ALL ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE WORKED AND LIVED ACCORDING TO THE TRUTHS OF WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE WILL STRIVE AND Thrive TO BECOME.
Therefore, even though there is no immediate cure for this “CALL OUT Disease,” I have survived and am surviving from the facts that: I control my destiny and that I have the power to use my tongue to usher in life and not death.
Therefore, On This day, I choose to acknowledge the power of positive People, Positive thoughts and Positive Actions.
On this day, I choose to fight this CALL OUT Disease with the inoculation of love , respect, accountability, and trust. ALL of this in faith and hope of producing the immunity needed to protect Us from further harm.
On this day, I choose to be a SURVIVOR AND WILL CONTINUE TO SURVIVE !!
As an administrator, I was frontline to all of the merciless mob intimidation and abuse. Being the lifeline for our employees and our students meant I could not leave them without support. It was critical for me to remain steadfast and be a constant in the chaos for those who needed it. This translated into hours of reading through savagely cruel and exceedingly brutal words. Day after day my humanity was stripped away as hundreds of untruths and accusations filled my inbox. Personal attacks, threats to staff and their families, invasions of privacy, it never stopped. So much ugliness. I did not recognize our community.
My heart was broken and hot tears full of loss and fear streamed down my face. I spent nights plagued with insomnia and the days greeted me with debilitating anxiety attacks. I worked in a fog of grief and fumbled through my family responsibilities. I was left with a heart condition that, as I recently found out, will plague me for my entire life. How could a community I care for so much, a community I felt unconditionally safe with, go right for the jugular and watch us bleed out with only a wisp of facts behind them? I felt so betrayed and betrayal is an awful thing. But, as I am learning, this is cancel culture and there are no limits to how far the pitchforks will go. It is not about what is right or what is moral, it is about domination and destruction.
Humanity is hardwired for belonging and connection. This is what bebo mia is to me. This is what makes it so special and unique. The staff, students and extended members made me realize how critical it is to have that community and how lucky I am to be part of it. To be accepted and celebrated just as you are. To learn, grow and be supported. Cancel culture tried to strip us of this belonging and connection but we have emerged stronger and more dedicated to our mission. I am a survivor and I will heal through our work and commitment to humanity!
Being a part of the crisis frontline when the call out began was unlike any other. I joined the team to hold back the flames of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. But with that came a cost that has put so many things into perspective.
I had to hold in stress, anxiety, and overstimulation for the large amounts of posted comments from the community. I could no longer confide my stress with my usual de-briefer my sister as she was a part of the epicenter. The role switch to become the protector and care for her heart was a challenge. The callout also created so much tension at home and left me with little to give to my family and health. I could not sleep. I could not focus. It added a pressure onto the tipping point to my already tense life. It was like a snowball that was rolling and getting bigger and bigger and worse and worse
The largest force came from the truth that I was a part of the Black community that was saying mistruths that led me to be internally triggered. As a mixed race person it made me question so much. Am I Black? Am I Black if I disagree?? Am I Black enough? Watching people question the values and mission of bebo mia was overwhelming. I felt a deep pull between the values I hold dear and the mob trying to insight pain over a disagreement.
In the end it brought me closer to my sister as we both saw we are enough, we are strong Black women and nothing will stop us from being a part of the movement to support birthers. I know that bebo mia will overcome the flames of confusion. This is all momentary and the stress and panic I felt has left me.
This experience of public shaming was one of the worst events of my life with devastating impacts. Having thousands of strangers deciding they really know about my motivations or thoughts was like never ending jeers running in my head. People I trusted lying about me causing intense feelings of anger & rage & frustration & deep grief. People who came to my home, who I poured love into, who’s children I celebrated, who I mentored, who I travelled with, who I cooked for, who I cried with, who meant something so profound to me. Who threw me away without even reaching out for a conversation.
I could not sleep because I could not stop thinking about what people were saying about me was so far from the truth I know about myself. Receiving hundreds of texts & emails & messages filled with judgements & lies & threats made my anxiety and depression skyrocket. I did not want to eat. My hands shook all the time. I cried a lot. I would sit on the floor of the shower & weep, trying to figure out how to make it stop. I was scared to look at my phone. I felt isolated. I stopped talking to people. I was shunned by members of my own community. By friends. By family. No one can actually name what happened, just snap decisions & no room for community discussion or healing.
There was so much helplessness because there was nothing I could say that would not be more fuel for the hate fire. I felt like there was no point doing anything in the field and for the community I dedicated my life to and for anymore. I know I make a commitment every single morning to learning & loving & helping & still people said I was bad & wrong. I lost my commitment to me & my life. I felt disposable. I watched my life’s work be reduced down to nothing. Every sacrifice I made, every hour spent working towards change in reproductive health, every minute I spent over 14 years giving love & education & mentorship & celebrating folks was torn apart for entertainment on social media.
I felt dehumanized. Like garbage. My insides were tied in knots. My home life became unbearable with the tension. My daughter suffered as her parents suffered. My family broke apart.
I did not know how to make it stop. My closest people were all going through this at the same time. Helpless. Hopeless.
The ‘woke mob’ is not in service of healing or helping. It is out to destroy. And it destroyed my family, my heart, my movement, my team, my finances, my health.
The allegations & conversations got more and more vicious with each day. I lost friends who had to shun me to protect their own businesses and interests. Each one of you who participated did it out of fear of being next.
We take educating, mentoring and supporting folks who are launching into this field very seriously. Everything we do is with deep love of humanity, dignity, integrity and curiosity. All people deserve this! We take a stand against homophobia, racism, transphobia, fatphobia, ageism, classism, abilism, gender-based violence, and all the ways many folks are oppressed and marginalized. We have community members in over 36 countries and do our best to ensure we focus on the needs and issues impacting each one of them.
We are also a team of humans. We understand that we are not perfect, nor do we pretend to be. We do not get it right all the time. We are all coming in with different values, beliefs, backgrounds and lived experiences. We have made a commitment to be comrades for the protection of reproductive rights and experiences. We have chosen to unite and connect while fully acknowledging our minor differences. The goal is not to demand complete agreement rather we are all fiercely committed to protecting reproductive rights and we know we are stronger together than apart. We invite you to join us in this movement.
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