We have a really, really special one for you this month. Ericka Hart, aptly self-titled Racial/Social/Gender Justice disruptor and an ever-inspiring and ever-enlightening queer Black femme sex educator (and breast cancer survivor!) spoke to us about a few aspects of navigating their life. You know when you meet someone with that many titles and that much experience, you’ll have to savor every word they bestow on you for ever and ever, right?
Ericka, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be talking to you today. First I want to say a deep, emphatic thank you for everything you’ve taught me throughout the few years I’ve followed your account on Instagram. You truly are a force to be reckoned with in every way— your joy is contagious, your knowledge is staggering, your passion and strength unmatched. Ok, three sentences in and no questions yet, let’s get into it!
Accounts like yours are one of the reasons I find Instagram so hard to break up with— it’s a platform that encourages sharing and engaging. Though there are countless grave flaws, it can serve as an amazing tool as well. Your mutual aid posts are something that comes to mind here, using your platform as a way for Black folks to receive funds (just because they are Black and deserve reparations from the state! Readers: check these out). Within this context, what does your Instagram account mean to you? Can you touch on the limits and expanses within your uses for the platform? (Forgive me for asking a question that could be the topic of an entire dissertation :-) )
Thank you so much as I’m glad my page is a space ARQ enjoys. However, I, too struggle with breaking up with Instagram and am always shocked at my screen usage by the end of the week :(. My Instagram is my little corner on Whitney Houston’s internet to share about my life, racial and social justice, sex education and whatever trash tv I stumble upon and provide commentary. I also think it’s important for folks to see Black queer, trans, non binary and disabled folks navigating life. It’s challenging to establish boundaries in person, it’s next to impossible in a virtual setting. People think they own your platform and especially as a Black femme, I am seen as a mule for every single social injustice issue thus am expected to be speaking on all of it. This is deeply exhausting. I have found the best solution is for me to establish boundaries for myself- not for the 482k people that follow my page, taking breaks, not responding to every single message and saying no are just a few things I’ve done to not be completely consumed by my virtual space.
In the same vein, Instagram has connected me to so many educators I otherwise might not have found! I truly and continuously learn from you, be it highly intellectualized Love Island commentary or your Black People Tell Black History series. Who are some of your favorite educators, or people you have learned from along your path, who have guided you to where you are now?
Oh thank you!!
I absolutely love the following folks for their education or just their beautiful curation of their pages:
After a year of essentially never leaving the home, ‘home’ has taken on new meaning for many of us. What does home mean to you, and how do you curate your space to meet your needs? Are there ways you use your home space to center yourself in the physical, tangible world after hours of online work?
Home to me means safety, ease and refuge. My partner and I have worked really hard to make our homes feel like a sanctuary, a reprieve and celebration of Blackness in a world that doesn’t value our humanity. We have created a space that is filled with vintage items from our ancestors, an altar space, lots of color and full of plants, all reminders to be tender, soft and to move slower. Even with having to be home during the pandemic, it has felt like an escape. We had only lived in our current place for a year when the pandemic hit, so we actually took the time to furnish and decorate areas we would have pushed off otherwise.
Nothing is more giggle inducing than the videos you post of Eb dancing to the tune of (music, of course) but also your laughter. In a year filled with devastating disruption and loss— what have you and your family been doing to keep smiles on your faces? What can you share with us about your methods and needs for joy?
My family relates to joy as a radical act. Some of those videos of Eb and I laughing and dancing were after we fell apart in tears responding to what often feels like many iterations of ongoing grief. Our joy doesn’t mean, grief is not present, just means we are choosing in that moment to be present in our bodies in a new way. Eb also just makes me laugh all the time and it has been a balm for my soul these past almost five years together. My family lives in Puerto Rico, so we haven’t seen each other in over a year, but we do zoom dates for everyone’s birthday and that has been super special when we normally just call each other individually. I would be remiss if I left out our furry family member, Baguette who has absolutely loved us being home all the time haha.
Photos by : Deme