Maya Angelou once wrote: “When you know you are of worth, you don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to become rude, you don’t have to become vulgar; you just are. And you are like the sky is, as the air is, the same way water is wet. It doesn’t have to protest.”
In the brief exchange I had with Africa Daley-Clarke, and reading back her interview for The Grace Tales, it is uplifting to discover such principles, poise and gentle power springing from the page.
Without the privilege of time – Africa works as a showroom and design manager and is mother to two little girls, Israel, three, and Ezra, one. Early last year she began to use her voice to open up the dialogue surrounding postnatal depression on her blog The Vitamin D Project. She has also been championing the lack of representation and diversity in children’s books and brands.
“Being a black woman in the UK today is a political act in itself,” she says. “Knowing that your existence, by default, is more likely to intimidate, you seek solace in the few safe spaces where you can be your true, authentic self. A common analogy of returning home each day is removing your physical armour at the door, [a] false exterior that serves as a thin protection – that generates a lot of emotional baggage also. I have spent much of my working life code-switching to assimilate, down-playing painful micro-aggressions in professional settings and being wrongly accused of [being] aggressive where ‘assertive’ would be better placed.”
And the lesson that she hopes to instil in her daughters is one we could all do with telling ourselves.
“It’s a contradiction, but we don’t want them to ever hold anyone else’s opinion of themselves in higher regard than their own, while realising there is greater joy in putting other people first,” she says. “Having a healthy sense of self-worth is important but it shouldn’t ever be confused with the importance of being kind.”
On The Grace Tales, we aspire to bring you snapshots of motherhood that inspire and resonate – the ‘grace’ is the dignity with which we all wish to raise our families, the ‘tale’ reveals the day-to-day struggles in getting there.
So many of Africa’s words have inspired us – her desire for greater racial equality, her approach to raising girls and her healthy handling of social media. If you read only one ‘Grace Tale’ this year – make it this one.