© Dom Aguiar
© Mustafa Omar
DEAR LITTLE RED LINE.
1st May 2021
Words by Evie Muir. Photography by Dom Aguiar & Mustafa Omar.
Today, we are extremely proud to share Evie Muir's letter with you.
In her letter, the multi-hyphenated writer (Sociologist-Domestic Abuse Specialist-Anti-Racism Activist-Freelance Journalist) is giving us access to her intrusive thoughts, a deep dive into her mind, as she is waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. Through this internal monologue, she is conveying with strength, anxiety but also deep love the questions Black Womxn are asking themselves when faced with the perspective of bringing a Black child to the world.
Dear Little Red Line,
Not too long ago I sat slumped on the bathroom floor waiting for a red line to appear across a plastic stick. Many periods had been missed, four or five in fact and I was convinced that this was the only logical explanation. As I braced myself for the results, I found myself in a silent panic as the seconds elongated into the longest 5 minute wait. My intrusive thoughts formed a letter to you and their words were deafening.
I’ve never really wanted you not in the way that some people yearn for children my purpose was never defined by your existence I always thought of you as a distant inevitability a “someday” eventuality but I could never translate this to a visual image of a reality in my mind if you were to appear today if that little red line was to appear across a plastic stick I would not keep you I’m not ready for you the world isn’t ready for you yet it’s not safe for you and it’s might never be safe for you I’m not safe for you I’m poorly you see I have to keep reminding myself of that because society would rather I conceal it but it’s okay that I’m poorly and it’s okay that I can recognise my limitations motherhood is my limitation or is it because for the first time I’m with someone who I could see it happening with not in a wistful or immediate way but in a contented way like yeah I would if I was ready but I’m not there is little to no excitement when I think of you only fear it’s a fear borne from selfishness I can admit that okay no not selfishness self-preservation I fear nine months of hormone imbalance I fear the wellbeing I’ve been working towards for 27 years will be undone when I’m at a point where I feel so so close to being better well the kind of better where you can exist with your trauma without being defined by it think of all that generational trauma you’d be born into I need to work on that myself first I need to be cured for you before you can exist and then there’s the physical fears too because child birth does not seem beautiful or spiritual to me it looks terrifyingly painful and maybe I wouldn’t be as deterred if it wasn’t and I get thrush and water infections all the time so I’m bound to have a hard go of it so I’m just not convinced I would emerge the same person I entered this journey as nine months later will I be too broken to keep you statistically I’m more likely to be plagued with prenatal and postnatal depression so it feels like I’d be walking into a trap it feels like self-sabotage that sounds dramatic doesn’t it given the gazillion people before me who have birthed children without disintegrating to a pile of dust but when you’ve worked so hard to turn yourself into a fortress it’s important to recognise that the foundations are still tenuous and it’s only just starting to feel stable I’m still fragile and sometimes I feel like one strong gust of wind could send it all tumbling to the ground and I’m not too proud to recognise that that’s not a structure you should bring children up in you deserve better than that you deserve better than the world we live in right now and that’s why I fear for you is it selfish not to bring a child into the world that will only cause them pain plus we’re existing within a global population crisis at the moment so isn’t it just selfish on a humanitarian level but you will be Black first and foremost and any other intersections will compound your Blackness and how you navigate the world whilst Black and that will most often than not feel unsafe and I am not enough to counteract that I am just another person navigating their Blackness trying to feel safe you will look to me to protect you from the world and soon realise I can’t so I have already failed if you identify as a girl there’ll be 1 in 4 chance that you are a victim of domestic abuse a 1 in 5 chance that you will be raped you’re more likely than not to form the 97% of women who have been sexually harassed if you identify as a boy how do I ensure that you don’t go on to victimise and oppress women if you identify as a boy how do I ensure you do not fall victim to suicide the biggest killer of men you will also be a victim of the toxic masculinity in an insidious way and as a Black boy if you do have mental health illnesses you’ll be four times more likely to be sectioned, you’ll have a higher risk of psychosis, 53% more likely to be imprisoned and three times more likely to face unemployment what if you wants to live in America I hope you won’t want to live in America you won’t be safe there you’re three times more likely to be killed by the police if you identify as transgender or gender nonconforming well at least you’ll be loved and understood and advocated for by me I’d create the safest place for you to be yourself and I’d try to ensure your fight is not a soul destroying one but laws that could protect you are currently going backwards not forwards will society be more accepting or less accepting of you by the time you’re learning about yourself there’ll be a 64% chance of you being bullie 45% chance if you identify as LGBT+ at school what if you don’t have friends your heart will get broken one day why would you want to experience that what if you have physical health needs and I’m not strong enough to ensure your life is without barriers prejudice and ignorance what if you have mental health needs and I’m not strong enough to ensure your life feels worth living what if you have a terminal illness what if I decide I want you during pregnancy but I lose you what if someone steals you what if you run across the road how do I protect you from predators how do parents let their children leave the house without worrying about where their kids are who they’re with when they’ll return we got up to some right shit when we were younger I don’t want you doing those things but I also want you to have freedom and be empowered and an independent intelligent free thinker who can stand up for yourselves and others who are politically active and have instilled social responsibility I want you to feel like you could do anything you want to but we’ll have to make sure you’re not a Tory what would I do if I inadvertently somehow managed to raise a Tory how do I create a comfortable income for us without neglecting our working class Yorkshire roots how will we even survive when as a household of colour we’re 46% likely to live in poverty how do I do that whilst ensuring you are infused with the most eclectic appreciation for your Caribbean heritage how do I do that when I myself are disconnected from my Caribbean heritage should I reach out to the family I don’t know how do I ensure that your Blackness defines you in the most celebratory way how will I raise you now today but how will I raise you if I don’t have you now if I put you off for a few more years bloody hell I’m nearing 30 now what if my body clock won’t wait for me what if I have an abortion but then further down the line when I want children I find I’m now infertile cand cant have children anymore where’s my feminist choice then if my mind and body are making different decisions for me even though I don’t really want you I definitely don’t want to be in the position where my body doesn’t give me an option I should go have a fertility test but it’s better to just not know isn’t it I should just adopt that would be better for all concerned what if my mum dies before I get chance to have you and she never gets to meet you and be a grandma to you what if she dies I have to raise you alone without her I should tell her I love her more even though she has never been pushy or placed any gendered expectations like this on me I feel like I owe it to her to have you because it would just make her so happy to have another child to dote upon fuck it I’ll just have to have you then won’t I but I don’t want you I may as well ring up the clinic now but that’s bound to have some sort of traumatic impact on my mental health certainly in the short term if not in the long term and even though it is my choice and I’d stand by it as I’d stand by others who made the same decision before me that doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice to make or that society is built to make it an easy recovery and god okay pull yourself together Evie it will be ready now look at the test…
The test was negative - as were the numerous subsequent tests that were taken in disbelief that day. I wasn’t having you, not yet, I was just so anxious and so depressed, that my periods had stopped altogether. “Fucking hell” I thought, “my body’s literally telling me I’m too poorly to have kids, maybe I should listen to it.”
Evie Muir is an animal loving, wild swimming, patriarchy fighting, British Sociologist, Domestic Abuse Specialist, Anti-Racism Activist and Freelance Journalist. She specialises in "BAMER" (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) experiences of Domestic and Sexual Abuse, and have over 7 years experience supporting survivors from marginalised communities with multiple vulnerabilities. Her writing is informed by her professional expertise on gender, racial and wider social issues plus personal experience as a dual-ethnicity female domestic abuse survivor of British-Caribbean decent.
Twitter @xeviemuir | www.eviemuir.com
Dom Aguiar is a photographer and retoucher based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Mustafa Omar is a photographer based in Nairobi, Kenya.