As a business woman I have become acutely aware of my 'voice' in email correspondence thanks to an interview with Josephine Fairley that appeared in The Telegraph in 2015.
In this article she spoke about the excessive use of the word ‘just’ by women in business: “I’m just checking in to see how that quote is coming along… just wondering if you got my last email” …and so on. She describes it as a “permission word – a warm-up to a request, an apology for interrupting, a shy knock on the door before asking: Can I get something I need from you?”
It is all too easy to express myself with an undercurrent of submission, using words like “just” to soften the delivery of what I'm trying to communicate, and although I have made strides in honoring my authority and cutting back on words like ‘just’ it is an eternal struggle for me to practice what I preach. There are some very deep rooted seeds of subservience ingrained in our female populace and I have not been spared.
I am telling you all of this because when Amber Marlow reached out to me about appearing on the Avowed Podcast she was direct, unapologetic, and STRONG. Frankly I was intimidated. Even though she was speaking with an authority that I seek to embody, it was still a little startling and I was left facing the fact that mixed in with my delight at her no-nonsense approach, I was also feeling some insecurity.
Furthermore, she was reaching out because she wanted to talk about the difference between how white people and people of color get married… a topic I am absolutely NOT an authority on, whatsoever. I knew she wasn’t reaching out to me for guidance or anything, but I still struggle with feeling like perhaps I am in over my head with this conversation I have incited. But, as Liz Susong said in Episode 6 Radical Love - it is important to “demonstrate how to be anti-racist white allies, and a lot of that is humility. Acknowledging that you don’t know everything and you're not always right”
So yes, I was initially intimated by Amber. She seemed so self assured and knowledgable, and I definitely experienced some moments of doubt prior to speaking with her about whether I was capable of facilitating the conversations that people of color dearly deserve when it comes to representation in modern wedding culture.
Ultimately I vowed to use this opportunity to listen and facilitate without jumping in to guide the conversation.
I think it’s safe to say I overthought the whole endeavor because from the moment I heard her voice something clicked for me. There is a warmth to Amber that you can hear and feel - even when you consider we were 2000 miles apart. In the beginning of our conversation she confessed that her recent interview with Catalyst has spurred some really hateful responses, and that she was having a difficult time shaking the pain away.
Essentially: her honesty and bravery from the moment she began speaking absolutely floored me.
My initial read on her had been true in many ways: she is unbelievable strong, assertive, and direct. She is a no-nonsense kind of woman, and she didn’t hesitate to disagree with me when the time came. She brought up some deeply fascinating theories about how privilege and the centering of whiteness in our culture effects not only how we depict weddings but how we begin planning them in the first place.
When Amber spoke about her experience with religion, abuse, and intolerance as a child I was blown away by her vulnerability, not to mention the inner strength she possesses. Rising above the ashes of a painful childhood and emerging as a happy, healthy, trusting, and loving individual is no small feat!
I was so disheartened, though not surprised, that she had received such negative pushback for her Catalyst interview. When I edited our conversation into the episode you have now (hopefully) listened to, I was filled with love and appreciation for Amber's bravery in sharing, and I sincerely hope that you are filled with something similar… but even if you’re not, even if her beliefs do not align with your own, I encourage you to practice compassion and empathy.
Our current space in time demands vulnerability, strength, and empathy and my hope for all of you is that you are met with the same level of kindness you offer the world.