I’m honored to welcome Bethny Ricks, writer, creator of the Instagram account @myway_withwords, and one of my favorite poets. Bethny, can you tell me a little bit about your own story and how you became a writer?
Writing has always been a part of my life; which I believe came from my love of reading. Over the years I have left and returned to this form of art over and over again, but never considered myself “a writer” until recently. During the latter half of 2017, after facing multiple personal challenges, I decided to pick up my pen again as a form of healing and I never put it down.
What’s the most noteworthy lesson you have been learning in this season?
So many things. I am in a constant state of learning and adjusting! But I will share two: First, never judge from a perch of comfort. And second, my (our) comfort zone/compromise is not free.
One thing I have encountered when talking to my white friends is a loss of words. Actions are KEY, but sitting down with someone and leaning into their heart is important too. What words would be or have been most meaningful and helpful to hear from your white friends? It is absolutely okay to not have all the answers, or a single answer- I promise. What is important today, right now, is that you are willing to do something with this new level of awareness? What sustainable adjustments are you making? There must be a willingness to just listen but also seek to understand.
Black people are not projects to be fixed, but a reflection of what happens when society does not listen or pay attention.
I recognize not every white person has a black person in their life willing to engage in these dialogues- even after educating, the white person has to educate themselves. But do not be discouraged, this journey takes time. There are many black men and women like myself who are willing to create a safe space, a soft landing for these (needed) private discussions.
I believe so much that our voices matter. Do you have any advice for someone struggling to find their voice, and struggling with if it even matters?
Your voice matters! Even if it shows up as a whisper- someone needs to hear what you have to say. I need to hear what you have to say! We all must be able to look at our reflections and see both worth and purpose…not perfection. My friends, this is where it starts. Where the struggle to open your mouth begins to shift toward courage and confidence. All of us must repeatedly come back to this lesson because I firmly believe that our voices and how we choose to use them are a complete manifestation of who we believe we really are.
What advice would you give your 22-year old self now? Bethny, struggles have no boundaries. No matter how much control you believe you have, you will not be exempt from heartache, pain, and deep soul-wrenching hurt. But my dear, you are so very strong. You are brave, and there are needed lessons to be found in your valleys. There will be moments where you feel you have lost yourself. Times when you choose to leave yourself, on purpose. But my dear, love knows your name and you will be triumphant. So do not grow weary, for the dips in the journey will not last always.
And I promise, there is a healing, vibrant joy found on the other side.
Thank you, Bethny, for filling this space with your words. I’m excited to see the change you will usher in with them!