The density and depth of this “AYA Talks’ still resonates. Audrey Warrington is a thinker, someone who ascribes “weight “ to the words she uses; she consistently enriches her answers by providing detailed context. When asked in what ways current feminist movements have tackled women’s sexuality for instance, she begins by asserting that the strides made by feminist activists globally have been earned through constant, and more often than not gruelling struggle and sacrifice. This may seem obvious but it is a prism that is often overlooked when reaching hasty conclusions about what has been achieved and what remains on top of the task list(s). And she continues by reminding us that sexuality has always tactfully been weaponised as a patriarchal tool to put women in their place.
As a mother, lawyer and writer, Audrey shares insightful perspectives on the very colonial foundation of French society especially with regards to how people and specifically women of color have had to navigate institutional racism, discrimination and social invisibility. This echoes French feminist, Françoise Vergès’ plea for a decolonised and gendered (re)writing of feminist activism in the métropole and in the so-called French Caribbean and how the narrative centred around decolonisation led to a “process of collective erasure” of specific experiences, even in feminist and activist memory. *
Audrey mentions how even the sharing of testimonies when it comes to French Black women who, statistically speaking, suffer more from obstetrical trauma -based on invalidating perceptions of Black women’s bodies, medical history, or tolerance for pain by medical practitioners and care providers- can be nullified or simply ignored. She concedes that universalism is but merely an ideal. In actual facts, when privileges remain unchecked and valiantly upheld, not much progress can nor does happen.
In her view, a full reform of institutions and practices starts with activists permeating the public space in the most effective ways, in short by becoming a solid, unified, informed group whose unadulterated challenge of the status quo is affirmed by their number, their ubiquity and by the ultimate necessity of their message. The work of said activists can become even more impactful if reinforced by long-standing and unafraid allies who in questioning their own privileges will break free from accepting and worse, replicating the ‘norm’.
On her Instagram page as well as in her blog, Audrey does not pose as the ever happy, cheery gal next door yet you would still want to chat with her over coffee. She subtly and always with sheer elegance reminds us of her scars, her frailty, her vulnerability and that is what draws significant empathy and relatability from the many who follow her. But it also stems from her ‘attraction’ to and understanding of those who feel marginalised, left on the side of our (until now) fast-paced, estranging societies.
“I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk throught the rain.” ― Audre Lorde
Before sanitary chaos swept up the West, she had launched a new collective geared at supporting Black, single and queer parenting with day-to-day necessities – administrative, legal, socially related, financial and named it Sorore Ensemble (“Sister Together”). It is framed as an embodiment of evolving as well as natural sisterhood. The gathering of a palette of Black women irrespective of background, faith or political affiliation however mindful of similar personal stories and aspirations for themselves and theirs.
The work of Audrey is tiresome but tirelessly achieved, patient, steeped in that conviction that to do is best than to watch in spite of it all and mostly because the dismantling will inevitably be televised.
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ― Audre Lorde
Photography: Gaël Rapon
*The Administration of Pregnancy by Caroline Muller, an article published on Books & Ideas, for Le Collège de France in 2018
For more on Audrey’s blog and collective: https://www.daybyaudrey.com/
-On medical mistreatment, outrageous experiences and a historical perspective on illegal medical testing on Black women, read Audrey’s BadAssMaman Blog posts (in French).
-You can also find out more about significant health disparities amongst expecting women of color and specifically Black Women in the United States in this lengthy report in the New York Times magazine dating back to 2018.
-On privilege check, Audrey recommended the 2019 documentary directed by A. Stapleton and starring comedian and late night host, Chelsea Handler, “Hello Privilege! It’s me, Chelsea” available on Netflix. And since Netflix is one of many digital saviours of the day, she also shared her appreciation for the excellent limited series “Unbelievable”, which tells the story of a woman accused of lying about having been raped.
-And, of course, there is no better time to binge read both Audrey Lorde’s Sister Outsider, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name or The Cancer Journals as well as Françoise Vergès’ Monsters and Revolutionaries, The Wombs of Women: Race, Capital, Feminism or the more recent, A Decolonial Feminism.