The Unapologetically Us project was inspired by the words of Audre Lorde in her 1981 keynote presentation, The Uses of Anger: “My response to racism is anger. I have lived with that anger, ignoring it, feeding upon it, learning to use it before it laid my visions to waste, for most of my life. Once I did it in silence, afraid of the weight. My fear of anger taught me nothing. Your fear of that anger will teach you nothing, also.”
In our work at FBB we see that, from an early age, girls are taught to contain, minimise or silence their emotions in order to make those around them feel comfortable, often at the expense of their own expression or healing. This experience is vastly more pronounced for Black girls and students of colour, who we know are disproportionately disciplined at school.
When we first met as a team to plan the pilot for this project we were all online due the third UK lockdown. My colleague, Ceylon, ran the meeting and asked us all to discuss our own relationships with anger. I was uncomfortable at first; it seemed almost “unprofessional” to share some of my most painful experiences on a call with colleagues, most of whom I had never actually met in person. What unfolded in that space was beautiful and powerful. People shared stories about how they had been misnaming their anger as “sadness” their whole lives; how they used football as a “socially acceptable” way of releasing their anger; where they felt anger in their bodies; the deep shame they had been taught to feel about their rage; and the power of women coming together to share their fire.
That meeting was transformative for me and it reminds me why we do the work that we do. At FBB, everything we do starts with the self. We make the time and space for feelings. We create an environment where young people feel safe to identify, express and process their emotions, and therefore better understand their experiences of the world around them.
This zine is a collection of just a fraction of the work our young people have created throughout the project. It provides a glimpse into the emotional lives of girls and non-binary young people from across our programmes in London and the North West. To celebrate International Women’s Day and all the women and non-binary people in the FBB family and beyond, we are launching the Unapologetically Us zine here for you all today.
We would like to give special thanks to Gillette Venus for believing in this project and supporting us in bringing Unapologetically Us to life. We hope you will treasure these pages, and our wonderful young people’s truths, as much as we do.
Please find your copy of the Unapologetically Us zine here.