Director Kyisha Williams on motherhood, expectations and radical honesty.
Photographed by Pegah Peivandi
As a young Black femme (and now new parent) generally there is so much to reclaim. For so long and even now, our bodies and our work are not considered our own. In particular, I have reclaimed - my body, my time and my truth.
As a survivor, as a queer person, as a parent who has given birth. On all fronts I’ve had to say this is my body, this is what I want to do with it, this is how I experience love, pleasure and magic, and there is nothing wrong with that even if it doesn’t fit into stereotypes of what I “should be”. As someone whose body has been used (historically and in this lifetime) for other people’s profit and pleasure, it is radical to say no, yes or maybe later on my own terms. As a new mom, my body has shown me its miraculous powers, and it has also gone through an immense amount of pain (due to medical intervention). I think that deserves to be continually acknowledged and seen as well. It looks and feels different than ever before, it’s a reminder of the incredible journey I am on and my infinite strength. In a world that declares that this body must return to the way it was before my pregnancy, loving her now, as is, is radical.
As a Black feminine, we are often expected to overwork (especially emotionally), over commit, put others needs ahead of our own, etc. That expectation has only increased since becoming a mother has intensified. Being dedicated to a self-love/marriage practice is revolutionary. I want to spend as much time and energy loving myself as deeply and unconditionally as I deserve so that I can fill myself first and also be able to recognize non-abusive, non-exploitative love where it exists in the world. I want to feed healthy love practices so they can feed me.
I'm committed to a radical honesty practice so I share my life and my truths in ways that are unconventional. I think it's unpopular at times, to tell the truth, due to its messy nature, but I think we deserve to be real people. We can share our actual lives, not just the good parts. Sometimes we get trapped pretending. There is immense freedom in being allowed to be real. Not having to perform. As a Black femme, I need to counter stereotypes. To take that pressure off and be allowed to just be an authentic version of myself. It’s a freeing feeling of reclaiming.
Kyisha Williams is a Toronto-born actor, model, director and health promoter. Kyisha fuses public health (MPH) and digital media by creating socially relevant content that discusses health and promotes healthy sexuality/ consent culture. They believe that the screen is a beautiful teaching and engaging tool.
View more of their work here: kyishawilliams.com
This piece was originally printed in issue 005: Reclaim.