By Micah Reum
Conversation With Ivy Enekwa
When asked the question “What are the best ways to affirm black women?” Ivy Enekwa responded with a very simple, yet even more powerful answer. “Just let us know that you see us.” She could think of no greater affirmation than to be seen by those who so often overlook her or only see her through a negative lense.
I found Ivy’s response more powerful as she further explained what being seen meant to her and perhaps many other black women, as well. What does it mean to be seen? Why is it so important? A phrase used in Nigeria, where Ivy lived through middle school and high school, may answer these questions perfectly. In Igbo, a Nigerian language, "a furu m gi n'anya" is used to say “I love you.” Translated, "a furu m gi n'anya" means “I see you (with my eyes).” How profound is this? Isn’t it true that when we see someone, in a positive and affirming light, we love what we see. When we affirm or compliment someone, we are saying what we love about him or her. “I love you.” “I see you.” Both phrases carry the same power. If one is missing, the other one might as well be missing too. When Ivy expressed that she just wants to be seen, she was saying that she wants to be loved. Everyone wants to be noticed and loved, but the reality for Ivy, is that it is rare that she feels either.
Ivy’s voice does not speak for all black women in the world. She speaks for herself. However, she is a successful accountant working in corporate America. There is nothing unique about this situation. So, the question has to be asked, “Why does she not feel seen?” Though she speaks for herself, the chances are Ivy is not the only black woman who feels this way.