The ‘I’m tired’ project – Quand les micro-agressions s’encrent

I am tired of
« I’m tired of ‘black’ being a personality trait. Growing up in London, I’ve been told from a young age in many variants that essentially how I speak and how I behave is not reflective of my skin colour. Whether it is ‘you’re quite posh, aren’t you?’ or ‘you don’t act black’, it is always implied that how I am is fundamentally incorrect and I should adhere to my respective stereotype. »

Le racisme, l’homophobie ou les discriminations se présentent malheureusement sous de nombreuses formes, certaines moins visibles que d’autres. Afin de présenter l’impact de ces biais discriminants, Paula Akpan et Harriet Evans, deux jeunes diplômées de l’université de Nottingham ont lancé ‘The I’m Tired project’, projet visant à dénoncer l’une des formes les plus insidueuses de la discrimination, les micro-agressions, à travers une série de témoignages illustrés. Le résultat, un projet inspirant à voir absolument.

Les micro-agressions sont insidieuses précisément parce que les personnes qui les font ne sont pas conscientes de ce qu’ils viennent de dire et peuvent réagir de manière indignée lorsqu’on leur en fait la remarque. Elles se présentent souvent sous la forme de commentaires anodins qui peuvent passer pour de l’ignorance, d’où le terme de micro-agression, qui signifie « petite agression ».

Ces commentaires, vous les avez peut-être déjà entendu, en ce qui me concerne ils ont plus trait à mon ethnicité « Tu es noire, tu dois sûrement manger épicé », « Tu as de beaux cheveux pour une africaine » ou même le terme de « Black » à la place de « Noire » et j’en passe… Avec le temps, ces commentaires laissent un impact durable sur les personnes ciblées et c’est justement cet impact que les deux jeunes diplômées ont tenu à présenter.

Leurs outils : la photographie, le corps humain et l’encre comme pour présenter les marques indélébiles de ces attaques. 40 personnes de toutes les origines et de toutes les catégories socio-professionnelles ont été prises en photo dans le cadre de ce projet et chacune porte les séquelles de ces attaques répétées qu’elles ont longtemps tues par peur de représailles ou par manque de représentativité.

Découvrez quelques clichés uniques et les histoires derrière ces prises :

I am tired of

« I’m tired of ‘black’ being a personality trait.
« Growing up in London, I’ve been told from a young age in many variants that essentially how I speak and how I behave is not reflective of my skin colour. Whether it is ‘you’re quite posh, aren’t you?’ or ‘you don’t act black’, it is always implied that how I am is fundamentally incorrect and I should adhere to my respective stereotype.
« Perhaps I should speak in slang and wear low riding tracksuit bottoms, innit? Ironically, it’s been mostly black people that have said these things to me.
« While at university, I had already taught myself to not take these ‘observations’ personally and just laugh it off or even play up to it. However, being a little older now, I know I don’t have to facilitate anyone else’s preconceptions and be made to feel bad about myself. And it’s not as if it comes from a malicious or hateful place. It’s just society has a way of conditioning us, and this project is actively working against that. Not because we’re all rebels but because talking about all the issues people are ignorant about will hopefully change the way we see individuals.
« Because we all are individuals. »
Photo credit: Paula Akpan
Editing credit: Ming Au
« I’m tired of being judged for not being married or having kids.
« I once saw an interview with Shonda Rhimes discussing her opinion about wanting to be married and having children. She stated she could never see herself being married and never had a desire for it. She continued to state that society often shames women for this because we’re supposed to “want it” and if not; “there must be something wrong”.
« Whenever I tell people I don’t have kids, I get one of two responses; either the person is “proud” of me (and possibly impressed), or they appear to be confused as if they’re trying to assess why. I also have friends who say “I should be married with kids by now” despite all their accomplishments.
« As for my parents, they have two different opinions about my status as a 31 year-old, single, childless woman. My mother is “proud” of me and my father at times states “it would be nice if you gave me a grandchild before I passed away” as if I am consciously not having a child to spite him. In a past conversation, he stated “you don’t want kids”, as if it would give him an understanding about my childless life. I’m often annoyed by these responses simply because I always have to explain why I am childless and single. During my mid twenties, I used to wonder if I was « failing as a woman »; often questioning, if « I’m good enough » due to being single and childless. Once I turned 30, I began to embrace life and became appreciative of the things I have achieved in my life thus far. I’ve also come to the realization these things may not happen for me, and have thought of adopting as an option.
« It was only as of 1920 women were allowed to vote and work. Before then, a woman’s purpose was only to provide domestic services in her household. With that being said, people still have those values ingrained in them regarding what a « woman’s role » should be and in turn, attempt to pass it on to their children, such as raising girls to keep the house clean and cook as well as raising boys to find a woman who has these qualities while not teaching them to be self-sufficient. »

« I’tired of constructed ideals of beauty making me feel inadequate. When I was younger, I never struggled with my appearance. I didn’t think I was the most attractive girl, but I never put too much thought into what I looked like. I was always taught that beauty was from within and what you looked like had no bearing on you, so I just didn’t take notice. I played outside, I danced, I did gymnastics and I ate things that I liked and that made me happy. I didn’t particularly care for make up or what my hair looked like, I just wanted to enjoy myself.
« I started to become aware of my appearance when I was 11.
« I remember stepping into school and seeing all these new girls, their hair was silky and straight. My hair was wild and frizzy. They were wearing make up. My face was plain and pale. They had already developed supermodel curves. I had the curves of a stick. In PE, they wore shorts and their legs were bare and smooth. Mine were hairy, and I was bullied for it. I didn’t fit in with this kind of beauty, but I was too young to realise that not everyone does and that’s ok. My mum told me that looks weren’t everything, and that I was beautiful in my own ways, and not to place my own self worth on how I looked.
« But, I begged my mum to shave my legs; get my hair cut; straighten it; pluck my eyebrows; wear make up and get the most ‘on trend’ trousers that would hang off my hips. It was then, I now realise, that ‘beauty’ had been constructed for me, and no matter how many times my mum tried to empower me, I wouldn’t listen.
« So, I shaved my legs; I got my hair cut; I straightened it; I plucked my eyebrows; I wore make up and I bought the ‘on trend’ trousers. It still wasn’t enough, but I was content.
« Until someone joked I was fat.
« I had enough confidence to look at myself and know that deep down I wasn’t fat. I was far from fat. But that joke ingrained within me, gnawing at my insides. So I cut meals, I exercised for hours. I lied. But I still wasn’t happy.
« I would spend hours scouring over pictures of women in magazines and in music videos. I was nowhere near that level of perfection, so I worked harder. »

Pour en savoir plus sur le projet, n’hésitez pas à vous rendre sur leur site et à les suivre sur Instagram.


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