Activist and Author Mia Birdsong's work is centered around building more equitable, just, and healthy communities. In her new book, “How we show up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community," Mia talks about how building these strong communities requires all of us to rethink our relationships with the people around us.
Listen to Mia Birdsong's interview starting at 7:38. These interview highlights have been condensed for clarity.
On Building "Our Village"
"Our villages are partly about practical help - like who's bringing meals when we're sick or when we're caretaking for somebody else who is sick? But it really is: how do we how do we create spaces where we feel seen? That is what we all need as people.
I was raised by a single mother and after my parents got divorced, she was really on her own. Her family disowned her when she married my father. My mother is a white woman from Macon, Georgia and my father was a Black man from Jamaica. What she did, like so many other unpartnered parents, is build a family for us out of her friendships. So I had this model of what chosen family looks like growing up."
On The Importance Of Giving And Receiving Help
"It is deeply ingrained in us that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Part of what I learned from so many of the people that I interviewed for the book is that providing and receiving support from other folks is a way of building intimacy.
I've been trying to recognize how hard it is for people to ask for help and offer specific help. I don't say to my friends things like 'let me know how I can help.' But [instead] things like, 'hey, I know you've had a really busy few weeks. Could I spend an hour like on Zoom with your kids so that you can take a bath or take a nap?' It requires us to really trust the intuition we have about the people we know.
Also in this moment where we're experiencing another cycle of white violence, I'm in community with lots of black women where we create space for each other to be held in in the grief this moment causes us. Having that place means that I am not going through my day holding those things by myself."
On How To Show Kindness In This Moment
Kindness doesn't mean that things aren't hard or painful. kindness is not about being nice. Sometimes kindness is about telling your your racist uncle that he is not welcome at your table anymore until he does some of his work. Kindness and accountability are very closely connected. Kindness and liberation are very closely connected. We want a world in which all of us feels a sense of belonging. Kindness has to be something that is something that requires action.