Portrait of Sonya Renee Taylor. | Photo courtesy of HSU

Final speaker closes the 27th annual Social Justice Summit with talk about radical self-love

Sonya Renee Taylor was one of three speakers chosen for this years Social Justice Summit on Healthcare and Wellness: The Intersection of Identity and Care.

On March 5, HSU students were able to tune into the final presentation of the 27th annual Social Justice Summit where Sonya Renee Taylor talked about the importance of radical self-love to undo the systems of oppression that constrict us from being our true selves.

Taylor is the author of “The Body is Not An Apology,” but spoke specifically about the second edition of the book that came out on Feb. 9, “The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love.”

The event opened with Q. Medina ensuring the audience that the Social Justice Summit is intended to breed conversation and provide a comforting place for students to share their personal experiences and opinions that relate to the topic of the event.

“Be open to learning then unlearning and share from experience using ‘I’ statements,” Medina said to the audience.

The presentation from Taylor started with a little background on her 10 years of experience as the founder of the digital media and education company, The Body is Not An Apology.

The content shared by the company reaches half a million people each month, as well as her recent book making it on a number of best sellers lists, including the New York Times.

“What I am seeing and what I am so grateful for is that it has touched millions of people’s lives,” Taylor said in response to contextualizing what it means to be apart of best sellers lists.

She said that New York Times status is unimportant, but what is important is that it means that people are starting to ask better questions about what it truly means for us to live in a just, equitable and compassionate world.

Taylor believes it is essential that readers understand the necessary shift away from masculine energy, disentangling the term from gender and biology. This would move us out of a time where the focus has been power over the individual and into a time where we question how our individuality impacts the collective.

She said that we tend to have this notion that how we choose to live does not impact anyone else. But, as COVID threw us into a virtual world last March, we saw firsthand how one chooses to use their digital space impacts those around them just as much as within their physical space.

“We are at a time where how we move inside our own beings has to shift because we need each other,” Taylor said.

She said that this particular season of life emphasized that our liberation is bound up together. How one lives in their own body opens up a greater pathway for how others live in theirs or it can continue to constrict and restrict others’ identities.

Taylor said that this practice of radical self-love does not mean solving one’s self esteem or self confidence. Rather it’s the part of us that longs for the source within us—an inherent, original relationship with ourselves and others.

To invite our inherent origin of radical self-love we must work to undo the systems of oppression that pull us away from who we have always been to begin with. We must undo the systems of hierarchy, terrorism, violence, oppression and degragation that create a ladder in society with an allusion that there is a top.

“If the ladder had a top that you could actually attain, Jeff Bezos would stop making money and Elon Musk would not be trying to send cars to Mars,” Taylor said, receiving a lot of praise in the comments.

She said that this allusion of the top of the ladder is really just white, able bodied, relatively young men. The remainder of the ladder consists of the rest of society establishing their self worth through trying to figure out where they fit.

Taylor closed the presentation by saying that the goal of finding radical-self love within ourselves is for us all to hop off this ladder and abolish it. The ladder being the systems of oppression that we understand and organize our lives inside of our bodies and the social world.

The audience responded enthusiastically, with Tim’m West, who is teaching Hip Hop & The Black Experience at HSU this semester, personally expressing his gratitude to Taylor within the chat.

“I love the ownership of your identities and the embodiment of your truths,” West said.

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