Temporary logo

Ericka Hart

Ericka Hart

Ericka Hart

Ericka Hart

Ericka Hart

Uncomfortable conversations

Uncomfortable conversations

Uncomfortable conversations

Uncomfortable conversations

DT_Erika_Hart

Interview by Bisila Noha and Melanie Göller, December 2017

Interview by Bisila Noha and Melanie Göller, December 2017

Ericka Hart is a black non binary femme activist, writer, highly acclaimed speaker and award winning sexuality educator with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University. We talked to her/them about her/their work as an educator, her/their experience of going topless with her/their double mastectomy scars, how our health systems can be bettered, intersectionality, and why we should all be having uncomfortable conversations.

Ericka Hart is a black non binary femme activist, writer, highly acclaimed speaker and award winning sexuality educator with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University. We talked to her/them about her/their work as an educator, her/their experience of going topless with her/their double mastectomy scars, how our health systems can be bettered, intersectionality, and why we should all be having uncomfortable conversations.

Ericka Hart is a black non binary femme activist, writer, highly acclaimed speaker and award winning sexuality educator with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University. We talked to her/them about her/their work as an educator, her/their experience of going topless with her/their double mastectomy scars, how our health systems can be bettered, intersectionality, and why we should all be having uncomfortable conversations.

Ericka Hart is a black non binary femme activist, writer, highly acclaimed speaker and award winning sexuality educator with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University. We talked to her/them about her/their work as an educator, her/their experience of going topless with her/their double mastectomy scars, how our health systems can be bettered, intersectionality, and why we should all be having uncomfortable conversations.

As a sexuality educator I teach from elementary school students all the way up to grad school age. I am also an activist but I think that by virtue of existing, black people do activist work all along their lives. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I show my surgery scars not just to raise awareness about breast cancer, but also to point at the ways in which institutions and systems of oppression impact black cancer survivors. Thirdly, my naked scared breasts aim at talking about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies. I want to shift the conversation from ‘I’m supposed to love myself’ to ‘I would like to bone, I would like to fuck’, or ‘my scars are nipples now, and that’s what it is, it’s a different body’. Making sure that we don’t over-medicalise it and think that loving our bodies is the only way to self gratification and to love ourselves.

The main focus of my job is to make conversations about sex less contrived, and more accessible. Sex shouldn’t be this secret that only happens in a bedroom, something people want to know about when the result is a baby coming out, or people going to sex toys shops and giggling. My aim is to make having these conversations more normalised, so that they can understand the ways their bodies work. I believe there’s anything you can teach without intersectionality. But specially talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.  

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and had a double mastectomy. I went through my treatment on autopilot mode, which is something a lot of people who go through chronic illnesses experience. I just went to my chemo appointments, surgery appointments; it felt very out of my body. I didn’t have time to process my feelings. I was working full time, and I didn’t go to therapy or anything. It’s only after that I started to process emotions about it and realised how my body had changed. I had been sitting on all these thoughts about my life and my experience, and I felt like I had found my voice to actually talk about it again. I felt like I had been silent for a year and a half and it was time for me to speak up.

 

As a sexuality educator I teach from elementary school students all the way up to grad school age. I am also an activist but I think that by virtue of existing, black people do activist work all along their lives. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I show my surgery scars not just to raise awareness about breast cancer, but also to point at the ways in which institutions and systems of oppression impact black cancer survivors. Thirdly, my naked scared breasts aim at talking about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies. I want to shift the conversation from ‘I’m supposed to love myself’ to ‘I would like to bone, I would like to fuck’, or ‘my scars are nipples now, and that’s what it is, it’s a different body’. Making sure that we don’t over-medicalise it and think that loving our bodies is the only way to self gratification and to love ourselves.

The main focus of my job is to make conversations about sex less contrived, and more accessible. Sex shouldn’t be this secret that only happens in a bedroom, something people want to know about when the result is a baby coming out, or people going to sex toys shops and giggling. My aim is to make having these conversations more normalised, so that they can understand the ways their bodies work. I believe there’s anything you can teach without intersectionality. But specially talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.  

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and had a double mastectomy. I went through my treatment on autopilot mode, which is something a lot of people who go through chronic illnesses experience. I just went to my chemo appointments, surgery appointments; it felt very out of my body. I didn’t have time to process my feelings. I was working full time, and I didn’t go to therapy or anything. It’s only after that I started to process emotions about it and realised how my body had changed. I had been sitting on all these thoughts about my life and my experience, and I felt like I had found my voice to actually talk about it again. I felt like I had been silent for a year and a half and it was time for me to speak up.

As a sexuality educator I teach from elementary school students all the way up to grad school age. I am also an activist but I think that by virtue of existing, black people do activist work all along their lives. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I show my surgery scars not just to raise awareness about breast cancer, but also to point at the ways in which institutions and systems of oppression impact black cancer survivors. Thirdly, my naked scared breasts aim at talking about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies. I want to shift the conversation from ‘I’m supposed to love myself’ to ‘I would like to bone, I would like to fuck’, or ‘my scars are nipples now, and that’s what it is, it’s a different body’. Making sure that we don’t over-medicalise it and think that loving our bodies is the only way to self gratification and to love ourselves.

The main focus of my job is to make conversations about sex less contrived, and more accessible. Sex shouldn’t be this secret that only happens in a bedroom, something people want to know about when the result is a baby coming out, or people going to sex toys shops and giggling. My aim is to make having these conversations more normalised, so that they can understand the ways their bodies work. I believe there’s anything you can teach without intersectionality. But specially talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.  

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and had a double mastectomy. I went through my treatment on autopilot mode, which is something a lot of people who go through chronic illnesses experience. I just went to my chemo appointments, surgery appointments; it felt very out of my body. I didn’t have time to process my feelings. I was working full time, and I didn’t go to therapy or anything. It’s only after that I started to process emotions about it and realised how my body had changed. I had been sitting on all these thoughts about my life and my experience, and I felt like I had found my voice to actually talk about it again. I felt like I had been silent for a year and a half and it was time for me to speak up.

As a sexuality educator I teach from elementary school students all the way up to grad school age. I am also an activist but I think that by virtue of existing, black people do activist work all along their lives. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I show my surgery scars not just to raise awareness about breast cancer, but also to point at the ways in which institutions and systems of oppression impact black cancer survivors. Thirdly, my naked scared breasts aim at talking about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies. I want to shift the conversation from ‘I’m supposed to love myself’ to ‘I would like to bone, I would like to fuck’, or ‘my scars are nipples now, and that’s what it is, it’s a different body’. Making sure that we don’t over-medicalise it and think that loving our bodies is the only way to self gratification and to love ourselves.

The main focus of my job is to make conversations about sex less contrived, and more accessible. Sex shouldn’t be this secret that only happens in a bedroom, something people want to know about when the result is a baby coming out, or people going to sex toys shops and giggling. My aim is to make having these conversations more normalised, so that they can understand the ways their bodies work. I believe there’s anything you can teach without intersectionality. But specially talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.  

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and had a double mastectomy. I went through my treatment on autopilot mode, which is something a lot of people who go through chronic illnesses experience. I just went to my chemo appointments, surgery appointments; it felt very out of my body. I didn’t have time to process my feelings. I was working full time, and I didn’t go to therapy or anything. It’s only after that I started to process emotions about it and realised how my body had changed. I had been sitting on all these thoughts about my life and my experience, and I felt like I had found my voice to actually talk about it again. I felt like I had been silent for a year and a half and it was time for me to speak up.

As a sexuality educator I teach from elementary school students all the way up to grad school age. I am also an activist but I think that by virtue of existing, black people do activist work all along their lives. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I show my surgery scars not just to raise awareness about breast cancer, but also to point at the ways in which institutions and systems of oppression impact black cancer survivors. Thirdly, my naked scared breasts aim at talking about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies. I want to shift the conversation from ‘I’m supposed to love myself’ to ‘I would like to bone, I would like to fuck’, or ‘my scars are nipples now, and that’s what it is, it’s a different body’. Making sure that we don’t over-medicalise it and think that loving our bodies is the only way to self gratification and to love ourselves.

The main focus of my job is to make conversations about sex less contrived, and more accessible. Sex shouldn’t be this secret that only happens in a bedroom, something people want to know about when the result is a baby coming out, or people going to sex toys shops and giggling. My aim is to make having these conversations more normalised, so that they can understand the ways their bodies work. I believe there’s anything you can teach without intersectionality. But specially talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.  

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and had a double mastectomy. I went through my treatment on autopilot mode, which is something a lot of people who go through chronic illnesses experience. I just went to my chemo appointments, surgery appointments; it felt very out of my body. I didn’t have time to process my feelings. I was working full time, and I didn’t go to therapy or anything. It’s only after that I started to process emotions about it and realised how my body had changed. I had been sitting on all these thoughts about my life and my experience, and I felt like I had found my voice to actually talk about it again. I felt like I had been silent for a year and a half and it was time for me to speak up.

“My naked scarred breasts talk about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies.”

“My naked scarred breasts talk about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies.”

“My naked scarred breasts talk about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies.”

“My naked scarred breasts talk about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies.”

“My naked scarred breasts talk about how cancer survivors can reclaim their bodies.”

I went topless at Afropunk music festival in 2016. After a double mastectomy, if you want plastic surgery, you get tissue expanders first, and then you get breast implants. Getting tissue expanders made me want to go topless and raise awareness about breast cancer. I thought about going topless for about a year before I actually did it. I was tired of seeing breast cancer campaigns that didn't represent black people. It’s also unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education. So that’s what made me snap eventually. Going topless at Afropunk was a very personal experience and I honestly never thought this would catch on in the way it has. It's been nuts. 

I want to be seen beyond cancer, though. After all I have been a sex educator for longer than I had breast cancer, and to diminish my being down to this person who has had a chronic illness is just insufficient. I have a lot of trauma living in this body and existing in this country, so it is important that I raise my voice about this too and that people hear it.

When you have a chronic illness, the rest of the world has an opinion on what is right for your ill body. This relatively popular blogger was telling me that I should eat different foods and what I posted on my Instagram actually promoted cancer, which always is very shocking to me, although at the same time it’s kind of not. It’s really unfortunate that that happens, and of course it’s super ableist. This isn’t just the experience of people with chronic illnesses, but also of people who are fat. People constantly asking fat people – ‘are you sure you want to eat that?’ I don't exist necessarily in a fat body, so I don't have these experiences, but I see it, and I even see myself wanting to do that, wanting to give people advice about what they should eat or what people should do. Fuck that – leave people alone!

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was engaged to be married and no-one was talking to me about how that may impact my relationship. Nobody talked to me about orgasms or my sex life. There was no conversation. In my entire career as a sex educator, no-one had showed me the different ways nipples can look, and I think it’s so important that we show double-mastectomy chests as well as many nipples shapes and sizes, so that when people go through it, they don’t think their bodies are wrong. There is a whole plethora of ways that nipples can look. I think it is very important we bring that home.

I went topless at Afropunk music festival in 2016. After a double mastectomy, if you want plastic surgery, you get tissue expanders first, and then you get breast implants. Getting tissue expanders made me want to go topless and raise awareness about breast cancer. I thought about going topless for about a year before I actually did it. I was tired of seeing breast cancer campaigns that didn't represent black people. It’s also unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education. So that’s what made me snap eventually. Going topless at Afropunk was a very personal experience and I honestly never thought this would catch on in the way it has. It's been nuts. 

I want to be seen beyond cancer, though. After all I have been a sex educator for longer than I had breast cancer, and to diminish my being down to this person who has had a chronic illness is just insufficient. I have a lot of trauma living in this body and existing in this country, so it is important that I raise my voice about this too and that people hear it.

When you have a chronic illness, the rest of the world has an opinion on what is right for your ill body. This relatively popular blogger was telling me that I should eat different foods and what I posted on my Instagram actually promoted cancer, which always is very shocking to me, although at the same time it’s kind of not. It’s really unfortunate that that happens, and of course it’s super ableist. This isn’t just the experience of people with chronic illnesses, but also of people who are fat. People constantly asking fat people – ‘are you sure you want to eat that?’ I don't exist necessarily in a fat body, so I don't have these experiences, but I see it, and I even see myself wanting to do that, wanting to give people advice about what they should eat or what people should do. Fuck that – leave people alone!

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was engaged to be married and no-one was talking to me about how that may impact my relationship. Nobody talked to me about orgasms or my sex life. There was no conversation. In my entire career as a sex educator, no-one had showed me the different ways nipples can look, and I think it’s so important that we show double-mastectomy chests as well as many nipples shapes and sizes, so that when people go through it, they don’t think their bodies are wrong. There is a whole plethora of ways that nipples can look. I think it is very important we bring that home.

I went topless at Afropunk music festival in 2016. After a double mastectomy, if you want plastic surgery, you get tissue expanders first, and then you get breast implants. Getting tissue expanders made me want to go topless and raise awareness about breast cancer. I thought about going topless for about a year before I actually did it. I was tired of seeing breast cancer campaigns that didn't represent black people. It’s also unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education. So that’s what made me snap eventually. Going topless at Afropunk was a very personal experience and I honestly never thought this would catch on in the way it has. It's been nuts. 

I want to be seen beyond cancer, though. After all I have been a sex educator for longer than I had breast cancer, and to diminish my being down to this person who has had a chronic illness is just insufficient. I have a lot of trauma living in this body and existing in this country, so it is important that I raise my voice about this too and that people hear it.

When you have a chronic illness, the rest of the world has an opinion on what is right for your ill body. This relatively popular blogger was telling me that I should eat different foods and what I posted on my Instagram actually promoted cancer, which always is very shocking to me, although at the same time it’s kind of not. It’s really unfortunate that that happens, and of course it’s super ableist. This isn’t just the experience of people with chronic illnesses, but also of people who are fat. People constantly asking fat people – ‘are you sure you want to eat that?’ I don't exist necessarily in a fat body, so I don't have these experiences, but I see it, and I even see myself wanting to do that, wanting to give people advice about what they should eat or what people should do. Fuck that – leave people alone!

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was engaged to be married and no-one was talking to me about how that may impact my relationship. Nobody talked to me about orgasms or my sex life. There was no conversation. In my entire career as a sex educator, no-one had showed me the different ways nipples can look, and I think it’s so important that we show double-mastectomy chests as well as many nipples shapes and sizes, so that when people go through it, they don’t think their bodies are wrong. There is a whole plethora of ways that nipples can look. I think it is very important we bring that home.

“It’s unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education.”

“It’s unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education.”

“It’s unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education.”

“It’s unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education.”

“It’s unfair to not see people who look like you in books and movies, and across sex education.”

As a black person, I experienced neglect in hospitals. I’m finding things out now that doctors didn't talk to me about back then. I want to have kids, and no-one asked me if I wanted to freeze my eggs before I went through chemo. Instead of offering to freeze my eggs, they put my body in menopause and I wasn’t conscious of the consequences of this decision at the time. It wasn’t explained to me. I’ve since spoken to black women who had their eggs frozen, but they had to fight for it. I think this is how racism works most of the time: something happens, and it only occurs to you afterwards how you’ve been mistreated, especially as a victim. The health system is a business, and there are rules as to what women can and can’t do with their bodies. We go to the doctor expecting them to help us, but at the end of the day, they are focussed on making money, and they are run by insurance companies that might not want them to operate on particular people, because it’s not profitable. It's all messy and unfortunate, and it seems like we can’t do anything to change it other than talk about it, and bring it to light.

I think people are ready for a conversation about intersectional feminism, but I don't think they are ready to actually practice it in their everyday lives. They are ready to share my speech from the Women’s March over and over again on social media, but I don't think they are ready to share it at their workplaces or when they are walking down the street, or in a cafe. I think it’s all like ‘Oh, I’m going to share this, which means I have already done something’. No. If you are an educator and/or activist, I want you to do your work from now on with an intersectional lense. And if a black person tells you the ways in which you are doing it are not serving people of colour, you would then correct it, and continue to read and educate yourself from the people at the root of intersectionality, and implement these changes in your life. I think things would look a lot different if people truly wanted to see change. I think people care a lot about themselves and not a lot about other people.

I am showing the world a queer black body, a black body that has gone through a double mastectomy, a body that challenges the beauty cannon society has imposed on us. Whenever I attend an event or have a chat on social media, people use the term ‘intersectionality.’ I would like to see this happening when I’m not present, to see it instituted. Now, when I Google “breast cancer”, I see myself, but I don't want to just see me – I want to see more. And I’m actually at the very bottom of the page, so I would like to go to the top a little bit! The work is not going to end. But people are starting to have conversations that make them uncomfortable, and that’s really at the core of the work that I do: having conversations that make people uncomfortable. That discomfort ends for some people, not for all of us. So that’s why I think that people who don't get uncomfortable often, need to get uncomfortable – all the time.

As a black person, I experienced neglect in hospitals. I’m finding things out now that doctors didn't talk to me about back then. I want to have kids, and no-one asked me if I wanted to freeze my eggs before I went through chemo. Instead of offering to freeze my eggs, they put my body in menopause and I wasn’t conscious of the consequences of this decision at the time. It wasn’t explained to me. I’ve since spoken to black women who had their eggs frozen, but they had to fight for it. I think this is how racism works most of the time: something happens, and it only occurs to you afterwards how you’ve been mistreated, especially as a victim. The health system is a business, and there are rules as to what women can and can’t do with their bodies. We go to the doctor expecting them to help us, but at the end of the day, they are focussed on making money, and they are run by insurance companies that might not want them to operate on particular people, because it’s not profitable. It's all messy and unfortunate, and it seems like we can’t do anything to change it other than talk about it, and bring it to light.

I think people are ready for a conversation about intersectional feminism, but I don't think they are ready to actually practice it in their everyday lives. They are ready to share my speech from the Women’s March over and over again on social media, but I don't think they are ready to share it at their workplaces or when they are walking down the street, or in a cafe. I think it’s all like ‘Oh, I’m going to share this, which means I have already done something’. No. If you are an educator and/or activist, I want you to do your work from now on with an intersectional lense. And if a black person tells you the ways in which you are doing it are not serving people of colour, you would then correct it, and continue to read and educate yourself from the people at the root of intersectionality, and implement these changes in your life. I think things would look a lot different if people truly wanted to see change. I think people care a lot about themselves and not a lot about other people.

I am showing the world a queer black body, a black body that has gone through a double mastectomy, a body that challenges the beauty cannon society has imposed on us. Whenever I attend an event or have a chat on social media, people use the term ‘intersectionality.’ I would like to see this happening when I’m not present, to see it instituted. Now, when I Google “breast cancer”, I see myself, but I don't want to just see me – I want to see more. And I’m actually at the very bottom of the page, so I would like to go to the top a little bit! The work is not going to end. But people are starting to have conversations that make them uncomfortable, and that’s really at the core of the work that I do: having conversations that make people uncomfortable. That discomfort ends for some people, not for all of us. So that’s why I think that people who don't get uncomfortable often, need to get uncomfortable – all the time.

As a black person, I experienced neglect in hospitals. I’m finding things out now that doctors didn't talk to me about back then. I want to have kids, and no-one asked me if I wanted to freeze my eggs before I went through chemo. Instead of offering to freeze my eggs, they put my body in menopause and I wasn’t conscious of the consequences of this decision at the time. It wasn’t explained to me. I’ve since spoken to black women who had their eggs frozen, but they had to fight for it. I think this is how racism works most of the time: something happens, and it only occurs to you afterwards how you’ve been mistreated, especially as a victim. The health system is a business, and there are rules as to what women can and can’t do with their bodies. We go to the doctor expecting them to help us, but at the end of the day, they are focussed on making money, and they are run by insurance companies that might not want them to operate on particular people, because it’s not profitable. It's all messy and unfortunate, and it seems like we can’t do anything to change it other than talk about it, and bring it to light.

I think people are ready for a conversation about intersectional feminism, but I don't think they are ready to actually practice it in their everyday lives. They are ready to share my speech from the Women’s March over and over again on social media, but I don't think they are ready to share it at their workplaces or when they are walking down the street, or in a cafe. I think it’s all like ‘Oh, I’m going to share this, which means I have already done something’. No. If you are an educator and/or activist, I want you to do your work from now on with an intersectional lense. And if a black person tells you the ways in which you are doing it are not serving people of colour, you would then correct it, and continue to read and educate yourself from the people at the root of intersectionality, and implement these changes in your life. I think things would look a lot different if people truly wanted to see change. I think people care a lot about themselves and not a lot about other people.

I am showing the world a queer black body, a black body that has gone through a double mastectomy, a body that challenges the beauty cannon society has imposed on us. Whenever I attend an event or have a chat on social media, people use the term ‘intersectionality.’ I would like to see this happening when I’m not present, to see it instituted. Now, when I Google “breast cancer”, I see myself, but I don't want to just see me – I want to see more. And I’m actually at the very bottom of the page, so I would like to go to the top a little bit! The work is not going to end. But people are starting to have conversations that make them uncomfortable, and that’s really at the core of the work that I do: having conversations that make people uncomfortable. That discomfort ends for some people, not for all of us. So that’s why I think that people who don't get uncomfortable often, need to get uncomfortable – all the time.

As a black person, I experienced neglect in hospitals. I’m finding things out now that doctors didn't talk to me about back then. I want to have kids, and no-one asked me if I wanted to freeze my eggs before I went through chemo. Instead of offering to freeze my eggs, they put my body in menopause and I wasn’t conscious of the consequences of this decision at the time. It wasn’t explained to me. I’ve since spoken to black women who had their eggs frozen, but they had to fight for it. I think this is how racism works most of the time: something happens, and it only occurs to you afterwards how you’ve been mistreated, especially as a victim. The health system is a business, and there are rules as to what women can and can’t do with their bodies. We go to the doctor expecting them to help us, but at the end of the day, they are focussed on making money, and they are run by insurance companies that might not want them to operate on particular people, because it’s not profitable. It's all messy and unfortunate, and it seems like we can’t do anything to change it other than talk about it, and bring it to light.

I think people are ready for a conversation about intersectional feminism, but I don't think they are ready to actually practice it in their everyday lives. They are ready to share my speech from the Women’s March over and over again on social media, but I don't think they are ready to share it at their workplaces or when they are walking down the street, or in a cafe. I think it’s all like ‘Oh, I’m going to share this, which means I have already done something’. No. If you are an educator and/or activist, I want you to do your work from now on with an intersectional lense. And if a black person tells you the ways in which you are doing it are not serving people of colour, you would then correct it, and continue to read and educate yourself from the people at the root of intersectionality, and implement these changes in your life. I think things would look a lot different if people truly wanted to see change. I think people care a lot about themselves and not a lot about other people.

I am showing the world a queer black body, a black body that has gone through a double mastectomy, a body that challenges the beauty cannon society has imposed on us. Whenever I attend an event or have a chat on social media, people use the term ‘intersectionality.’ I would like to see this happening when I’m not present, to see it instituted. Now, when I Google “breast cancer”, I see myself, but I don't want to just see me – I want to see more. And I’m actually at the very bottom of the page, so I would like to go to the top a little bit! The work is not going to end. But people are starting to have conversations that make them uncomfortable, and that’s really at the core of the work that I do: having conversations that make people uncomfortable. That discomfort ends for some people, not for all of us. So that’s why I think that people who don't get uncomfortable often, need to get uncomfortable – all the time.

As a black person, I experienced neglect in hospitals. I’m finding things out now that doctors didn't talk to me about back then. I want to have kids, and no-one asked me if I wanted to freeze my eggs before I went through chemo. Instead of offering to freeze my eggs, they put my body in menopause and I wasn’t conscious of the consequences of this decision at the time. It wasn’t explained to me. I’ve since spoken to black women who had their eggs frozen, but they had to fight for it. I think this is how racism works most of the time: something happens, and it only occurs to you afterwards how you’ve been mistreated, especially as a victim. The health system is a business, and there are rules as to what women can and can’t do with their bodies. We go to the doctor expecting them to help us, but at the end of the day, they are focussed on making money, and they are run by insurance companies that might not want them to operate on particular people, because it’s not profitable. It's all messy and unfortunate, and it seems like we can’t do anything to change it other than talk about it, and bring it to light.

I think people are ready for a conversation about intersectional feminism, but I don't think they are ready to actually practice it in their everyday lives. They are ready to share my speech from the Women’s March over and over again on social media, but I don't think they are ready to share it at their workplaces or when they are walking down the street, or in a cafe. I think it’s all like ‘Oh, I’m going to share this, which means I have already done something’. No. If you are an educator and/or activist, I want you to do your work from now on with an intersectional lense. And if a black person tells you the ways in which you are doing it are not serving people of colour, you would then correct it, and continue to read and educate yourself from the people at the root of intersectionality, and implement these changes in your life. I think things would look a lot different if people truly wanted to see change. I think people care a lot about themselves and not a lot about other people.

I am showing the world a queer black body, a black body that has gone through a double mastectomy, a body that challenges the beauty cannon society has imposed on us. Whenever I attend an event or have a chat on social media, people use the term ‘intersectionality.’ I would like to see this happening when I’m not present, to see it instituted. Now, when I Google “breast cancer”, I see myself, but I don't want to just see me – I want to see more. And I’m actually at the very bottom of the page, so I would like to go to the top a little bit! The work is not going to end. But people are starting to have conversations that make them uncomfortable, and that’s really at the core of the work that I do: having conversations that make people uncomfortable. That discomfort ends for some people, not for all of us. So that’s why I think that people who don't get uncomfortable often, need to get uncomfortable – all the time.

“I don’t believe there’s anything we can teach without considering intersectionality. But especially when talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.”

“I don’t believe there’s anything we can teach without considering intersectionality. But especially when talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.”

“I don’t believe there’s anything we can teach without considering intersectionality. But especially when talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.”

“I don’t believe there’s anything we can teach without considering intersectionality. But especially when talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.”

“I don’t believe there’s anything we can teach without considering intersectionality. But especially when talking about people’s bodies, it has to be intersectional.”

How power works is a question that I ask frequently. The things that I say are not popular in mainstream discourse. So even in this conversation, I am saying, ‘Does that make sense?’ Because I actively question what I've just said. That is the kind of dance that I have. I say the thoughts that come to my mind, and I’m saying it even in the face of people disagreeing with me. I think I stay empowered by staying true to myself, and even if I’m scared or a question comes up from that, I'm like ‘No – this makes sense to me’. I have to validate myself over and over again, because I have lived my life being invalidated. I cannot tell you the amount of times as a kid people said ‘No, that's wrong’ even though I knew it was right. That's how power works. To dismiss what someone is saying, unless empowered by what another person is saying. I get caught in this world sometimes, and then I just need to be brought up.

My life has completely changed since Afropunk 2016. At the beginning of 2017 I was working at a racist non-profit organisation, and I was making the most money I've ever made, but I hated it. And then in the summer I quit, and never looked back. It is so nice to work for myself. To actually be the work that I do, and to hustle and create lesson plans and work with students. I love that. So things have drastically changed since the day I took my top off. I feel like I have fallen in love with myself (and I hate this rhetoric) in ways that I never thought was possible. And I don't say it like I love my body in a superficial way; I mean I love my mind, the things that I say, and I believe and I trust what I am saying.

I wish that my younger self had known that the first thing people see is my blackness. It doesn't matter if I’m queer, it doesn't matter if I’m femme, it doesn't matter that I’m a breast cancer survivor. They see a black person, and they respond accordingly. If I had known this ten years ago, I probably would have gone topless sooner. Because I think I resisted that notion a lot. I was very much on the train of ‘people don't see colour’ for a long time. When I was in college, I had black and white friends and thought it was perfect, because I had all these people who loved me, but a lot of those people did not, and they had racist, bigoted thoughts towards who I was. At first I thought it was fine, or just jokes, and brushed things off and internalised them and started to believe the things they were saying about me. So I think if I had known that then, I would have been much better off. Everyone has their journey, right? I just know that there was a lot of hard shit that I experienced when I was at that age, and I dealt with it the hard way.

How power works is a question that I ask frequently. The things that I say are not popular in mainstream discourse. So even in this conversation, I am saying, ‘Does that make sense?’ Because I actively question what I've just said. That is the kind of dance that I have. I say the thoughts that come to my mind, and I’m saying it even in the face of people disagreeing with me. I think I stay empowered by staying true to myself, and even if I’m scared or a question comes up from that, I'm like ‘No – this makes sense to me’. I have to validate myself over and over again, because I have lived my life being invalidated. I cannot tell you the amount of times as a kid people said ‘No, that's wrong’ even though I knew it was right. That's how power works. To dismiss what someone is saying, unless empowered by what another person is saying. I get caught in this world sometimes, and then I just need to be brought up.

My life has completely changed since Afropunk 2016. At the beginning of 2017 I was working at a racist non-profit organisation, and I was making the most money I've ever made, but I hated it. And then in the summer I quit, and never looked back. It is so nice to work for myself. To actually be the work that I do, and to hustle and create lesson plans and work with students. I love that. So things have drastically changed since the day I took my top off. I feel like I have fallen in love with myself (and I hate this rhetoric) in ways that I never thought was possible. And I don't say it like I love my body in a superficial way; I mean I love my mind, the things that I say, and I believe and I trust what I am saying.

I wish that my younger self had known that the first thing people see is my blackness. It doesn't matter if I’m queer, it doesn't matter if I’m femme, it doesn't matter that I’m a breast cancer survivor. They see a black person, and they respond accordingly. If I had known this ten years ago, I probably would have gone topless sooner. Because I think I resisted that notion a lot. I was very much on the train of ‘people don't see colour’ for a long time. When I was in college, I had black and white friends and thought it was perfect, because I had all these people who loved me, but a lot of those people did not, and they had racist, bigoted thoughts towards who I was. At first I thought it was fine, or just jokes, and brushed things off and internalised them and started to believe the things they were saying about me. So I think if I had known that then, I would have been much better off. Everyone has their journey, right? I just know that there was a lot of hard shit that I experienced when I was at that age, and I dealt with it the hard way.

How power works is a question that I ask frequently. The things that I say are not popular in mainstream discourse. So even in this conversation, I am saying, ‘Does that make sense?’ Because I actively question what I've just said. That is the kind of dance that I have. I say the thoughts that come to my mind, and I’m saying it even in the face of people disagreeing with me. I think I stay empowered by staying true to myself, and even if I’m scared or a question comes up from that, I'm like ‘No – this makes sense to me’. I have to validate myself over and over again, because I have lived my life being invalidated. I cannot tell you the amount of times as a kid people said ‘No, that's wrong’ even though I knew it was right. That's how power works. To dismiss what someone is saying, unless empowered by what another person is saying. I get caught in this world sometimes, and then I just need to be brought up.

My life has completely changed since Afropunk 2016. At the beginning of 2017 I was working at a racist non-profit organisation, and I was making the most money I've ever made, but I hated it. And then in the summer I quit, and never looked back. It is so nice to work for myself. To actually be the work that I do, and to hustle and create lesson plans and work with students. I love that. So things have drastically changed since the day I took my top off. I feel like I have fallen in love with myself (and I hate this rhetoric) in ways that I never thought was possible. And I don't say it like I love my body in a superficial way; I mean I love my mind, the things that I say, and I believe and I trust what I am saying.

I wish that my younger self had known that the first thing people see is my blackness. It doesn't matter if I’m queer, it doesn't matter if I’m femme, it doesn't matter that I’m a breast cancer survivor. They see a black person, and they respond accordingly. If I had known this ten years ago, I probably would have gone topless sooner. Because I think I resisted that notion a lot. I was very much on the train of ‘people don't see colour’ for a long time. When I was in college, I had black and white friends and thought it was perfect, because I had all these people who loved me, but a lot of those people did not, and they had racist, bigoted thoughts towards who I was. At first I thought it was fine, or just jokes, and brushed things off and internalised them and started to believe the things they were saying about me. So I think if I had known that then, I would have been much better off. Everyone has their journey, right? I just know that there was a lot of hard shit that I experienced when I was at that age, and I dealt with it the hard way.

How power works is a question that I ask frequently. The things that I say are not popular in mainstream discourse. So even in this conversation, I am saying, ‘Does that make sense?’ Because I actively question what I've just said. That is the kind of dance that I have. I say the thoughts that come to my mind, and I’m saying it even in the face of people disagreeing with me. I think I stay empowered by staying true to myself, and even if I’m scared or a question comes up from that, I'm like ‘No – this makes sense to me’. I have to validate myself over and over again, because I have lived my life being invalidated. I cannot tell you the amount of times as a kid people said ‘No, that's wrong’ even though I knew it was right. That's how power works. To dismiss what someone is saying, unless empowered by what another person is saying. I get caught in this world sometimes, and then I just need to be brought up.

My life has completely changed since Afropunk 2016. At the beginning of 2017 I was working at a racist non-profit organisation, and I was making the most money I've ever made, but I hated it. And then in the summer I quit, and never looked back. It is so nice to work for myself. To actually be the work that I do, and to hustle and create lesson plans and work with students. I love that. So things have drastically changed since the day I took my top off. I feel like I have fallen in love with myself (and I hate this rhetoric) in ways that I never thought was possible. And I don't say it like I love my body in a superficial way; I mean I love my mind, the things that I say, and I believe and I trust what I am saying.

I wish that my younger self had known that the first thing people see is my blackness. It doesn't matter if I’m queer, it doesn't matter if I’m femme, it doesn't matter that I’m a breast cancer survivor. They see a black person, and they respond accordingly. If I had known this ten years ago, I probably would have gone topless sooner. Because I think I resisted that notion a lot. I was very much on the train of ‘people don't see colour’ for a long time. When I was in college, I had black and white friends and thought it was perfect, because I had all these people who loved me, but a lot of those people did not, and they had racist, bigoted thoughts towards who I was. At first I thought it was fine, or just jokes, and brushed things off and internalised them and started to believe the things they were saying about me. So I think if I had known that then, I would have been much better off. Everyone has their journey, right? I just know that there was a lot of hard shit that I experienced when I was at that age, and I dealt with it the hard way.

Ericka HartInstagram — Twitter
Illustration by Anna Nicolo

Ericka HartInstagramTwitter
Illustration by Anna Nicolo

Instagram     info@wearedownthere.com     © 2019 Down There     Privacy     Cookies