"Ain't I A Woman?": Women's History Month in Colour - Lauryn Pinard
The phrase "Ain't I a Woman" derives from a speech by Sojourner Truth, a Black woman enslaved, which speaks to a history where non-white women were excluded from the hegemonic definitions of womanhood and erased in discourses on women's rights activism. This special #WomensHistoryMonth2021 blog series highlights exceptional #WomenOfColour.
Hey! My name is Lauryn Pinard, I was born in France from a mixed background: White French and Black Caribbean (Haiti). I am currently a freelance dance artist as well as a theatre practitioner who has recently graduated from Royal Holloway University of London (2020). My work mainly focuses on the accessibility of the Arts, ideas of identity and belonging, and the matter of Black Joy.
If we limit it to the past year, I’d say that one of my proudest moments was obtaining my BA with a First class degree during a global pandemic. That period of time was extremely stressful: having to navigate through the lack of support; isolation and the drastic changes in everyday life... so managing to pull through during that time was incredibly rewarding. I was also recognised by my peers for my work/contribution and was shortlisted for the Class of 2020 Black Impact Academic Excellence Award.
On a more global outlook, I am very proud of having reached a place where I am able to work and develop my practice in fields that I adore. Last, but not least, I am incredibly proud for having learned to seriously dedicate myself to my self-care and health, may it be physical or mental. Again, the past year was insanely challenging for everyone, so I am pleased that I have been taking time to reflect and build supportive and healthy coping patterns (proudly part of the ‘I need to run myself a bath’ squad).
Photo Credit: "Becoming-Animal" by Emilia Robinson and Sidonie Carey-Green
Considering Your Race and Gender, What Hardships Have You Faced and How Have You Managed to Overcome Them?
Oh dear… A lot ahahah. Considering financial, physical (health), relation-related or academic hardships, what supported me the best was finding/building a strong support bubble. Being around people that can acknowledge, understand, listen and somehow relate to your experience without bias has been invaluable! Having a strong support base—may it be a mental health support officer, your sister, your friends, your society, your community—allows you to heal and grow. I strongly believe that community can help you thrive and overcome whatever challenges you are up against, especially if it is discrimination.
It is important as well to highlight what overcoming is because each experience is so specific and subjective: there is no way to measure "overcoming." To voice an opinion is ‘overcoming’, choosing to leave is ‘overcoming’, to succeed in an exam, to change path, anything that fulfils YOU can be ‘overcoming’.
What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?
I would say a lot of things to my younger self, if I could! I think the main thing I would say (and teach myself!) is: BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE and WHERE YOU COME FROM and surround yourself with people that value you as an individual.
Moisturise those curls!
Be kind to yourself.
And finally.... You have time! I think this is something we do not teach enough to the young generations. We expect them to just hurry up and make life decisions with such limited life experience and stick to them. Make mistakes, dedicate time for yourself to see things through, enjoy a break but also the rapid changes that will come your way, that’s what will make your experience special and meaningful.
What Advice Would You Give to Young Women of Colour Who are Confronted by Their Race and Gender in Various Areas of Society?
The most important advice I can give is to allow yourself space to heal. There is this common perception of Women of Colour, and just generally speaking People of Colour, being this undying source of resilience, of strength. We are expected to confront everything that is thrown our way, keeping our heads high and feigning a big smile. I believe it is important to acknowledge the place of vulnerability, to allow ourselves to sit with it for a while. We are allowed to feel vulnerable, sad, and low. I also think about how discriminatory experiences stir us to respond as we can and should if we feel, but keeping ourselves safe is a top priority.
Essentially, Women of Colour do not owe ANYONE an explanation for how we feel nor should anyone expect us to act like Claudia Jones everyday. Nurture and value yourself above all things!
Where Can We Learn More About You?
You can go follow my work on my IG @troudyy !