The definition of strong is <able to withstand great force or pressure>
The definition of resilient is <able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions>
The definition of withstand is <remain undamaged or unaffected by>
BUT FRANCESCA ANDRE CANNOT BE DEFINED BY SUCH CONFINING WORDS.
She is not strong. She is not resilient.
SHE IS HUMAN.
And as a human, the great forces and pressure from difficult conditions like racism and subjugation make it impossible to remain unaffected! So, we stand with Francesca in agreeing that withstanding pain and trauma is not something that should be admired and revered.
As humans, we need to be able to express our full range of emotions, and Francesca’s life work on this topic got us emotional!
She teaches us that it is okay to feel broken into pieces because it can help bring us to peace. It is okay to fall down because it can help us stand up for what we believe in. It is okay to scream at the top of our lungs to help stop silent oppression. She teaches us that healing happens from acknowledging hurt, not ignoring it. She teaches us that it is okay not to be okay, but it is not okay to be pressured into thinking otherwise because of pretty words with ugly intentions.
YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY A WORD’S DEFINITION.
In other words, words do not get to tell you what your experience means. Your life experience gives meaning to words. If terms are being used to silence, oppress, dictate, gaslight, or invalidate your experience, then it is time to speak up against it on your own terms! Without your expression, trying to effect real change would be meaningless.
That is why Francesca’s work is so meaningful in changing this conversation and she leaves us speechless by what she has accomplished already!
Keep reading to learn more about her journey as an award-winning filmmaker, TEDx speaker, children’s book author, photographer, color activist, and the co-founder and creative director of Optik 21.
Your TEDx Talk was so inspiring! It shed light on a topic that we barely hear about. What inspired you to create such a powerful talk addressing resilience when it comes to black women and what was that process like?
Thank you for your kind words about my TEDx Talk. My continuous journey towards my personal and radical healing led me to write “Do Not Call Me Resilient Only to Deny My Pain.”
MY PAIN IS NOT A BADGE OF HONOR.
As a Haitian woman, I have learned how to suppress and mask my pain at a very young age. Unfortunately, it became a part of a false identity that did not serve me.
SUPPRESSED PAIN IS NOT RESILIENCE. SUPPRESSED PAIN IS JUST SUPPRESSED PAIN.
What works for me is addressing the pain that has taken so much space in my life. I have also learned from the same culture how healing has always been a part of our collective journey- from our different norms and rituals when we grieve, to preparing a woman to heal after giving birth. Healing is necessary.
I take the parts that serve me and my purpose.
You have so many huge accomplishments like creating your own high-quality video services agency, writing an amazing children’s book called I Am a Phenomenal Black Boy that is featured in high-profile magazines, and all while being a mother!
How do you balance accomplishing your dreams and staying grounded for your home life? How do you set yourself up for success and still have time for self-care?
My home life is my priority. Everything that I do including creative projects and decisions about my career must align with that major priority. It is incredibly challenging.
I DON’T HAVE THE LUXURY TO MISMANAGE MY TIME ON PROJECTS OR COMMITMENTS THAT ARE NOT IN ALIGNMENT WITH MY CURRENT PATH AS A MOTHER, PROVIDER, AND SOLO PARENT.
I am still working on improving my habits when it comes to self-care but as far as everything else, I have learned the power of saying ‘NO’ and ‘Not Right Now.’ I have also learned to not overcommit myself.
Your short film Charcoal has had amazing recognition for its brilliance and powerful message. Do you plan on making more short films that share the same message of colorism and crossing that bridge over to self-acceptance?
I do want to explore it more in my community especially since there have been trends to normalize bleaching creams.
A lot of your work seems to be very intentional and purpose-driven. Has your vision for your life’s work always been so clear?
I am a vessel and my purpose/mission as a storyteller became clear when I stopped resisting my path. Here is a simple rule that I follow:
FLOW! DON’T FORCE SHIT TO HAPPEN AND DON’T GET ATTACHED TO THE PROCESS OR THE RESULTS.
Finally, we know that you are a proud Haitian woman. Your culture is shown throughout your work. In your Ted Talk, you shared about resilience commonly used to disguise your pain and inhumane conditions, but you also showcased coming through to the other side of self-love, acceptance, and validation by being fully immersed in your emotions.
After so many years of holding back, how did you find ways to open, let go, feel, and validate all your emotions?
For me, my pain that is linked to childhood trauma and recent losses took on a very persistent personality! It would appear unexpectedly- in the middle of the night, in my work, in the way I view life, and at times, even in the way I love. It came in the form of anger and I misidentified it. So, I had to face it, sit with it, understand it, and be patient with it before turning it into creative outbursts.
I ASKED MYSELF, ‘WHO AM I HIDING MY PAIN FROM? HOW IS HIDING IT SERVING ME AND MY CHILD? DOES MY SURVIVAL DEPEND ON IT?’
If the answers that I got were not relevant to my current path, then I chose to release it. In Creole, ‘Mwen lagel.’
I AM ALSO MORE INVESTED IN MY FUTURE SELF WITHOUT SACRIFICING WHO I AM IN THE PRESENT. MY PAST IS BEING USED MORE AS FUEL.
I am grateful for my creativity, my voice as an artist and my son who is teaching me to be present. A friend of mine once told me that children are great filters and I keep that as a guiding measurement. If it does not serve my son, our lives, or a greater cause, then I am reluctant to make space for it.
To answer your question, validating my pain is about validating myself and what I have been through. Going to therapy is validating my pain. Creating rituals and habits that affirm me as a whole entity is necessary.
Where can people learn more about all the outstanding work that you’re DOING, but even more importantly the embodiment of your work by BEING unapologetically YOU?
Feature in FORBES
TEDx talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR54aowxrWs
Short Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2zh61j73PI
Thank you so much for inviting me to share about my journey! In Creole, ‘Anpil lanmou! Anpil Limye!’
WE HEAR HER OPEN HEART
The way Francesca Andre speaks to her own emotional opening is a reminder to us all about the importance of not closing our hearts or our mouths. And we give you our word that we just love her for that!
Want to let her know how much you love her too? Don’t forget to like this post and drop a comment below!