Issue Three - An Interview with ShiShi Rose

An Interview with ShiShi Rose
By: Kyle Parker

“ShiShi of House Rose: First of Her Name, Defender of Black Excellence, Breaker of White Chains, & Mother of Pay Me 2 Educate Ur Ass”

Whether she is uplifting women, showing us exactly what black excellence is, or forcing people to check their privilege, ShiShi Rose has been giving her thousands of followers (48.9k at the time this article was published) life while teaching lessons so many need to learn. I was first introduced to ShiShi when actress Brie Larson reposted ShiShi’s Instagram post in honor of what would have been Sandra Bland’s, a black activist who was found murdered in a Texas jail cell in 2015, 30th birthday. ShiShi’s humor comes through brilliantly and her unashamedly honest critiques were so intriguing, I had to follow her.

Over the years, Shi Shi has been laying out the facts and calling out the institutionalized racism on which the United States was founded. Whenever she is met with White Tears or long-winded “I’m not racist, but…” comments trying to discredit what she has said, which is often, ShiShi cuts through the bullshit and forces people to look at the harsh, ugly, honest and oppressive reality of our world.

In so many activist movements, black women have been the leaders and I will gladly follow Shi Shi.

[k.p.] You say in your bio on your website that you want people to "recognize the power that they hold". Was it discovering your own truth that inspired you to want to encourage others to find their power? Or was it the reverse-did starting these conversations with others lead you to finding your truth?

[s.r.] A little bit of both I guess. To be truthful, my goal was never any of this. It was simply survival. And to learn to speak about injustices that were happening to Black people, including myself. I did find my voice and my power through the pathway of activism, but teaching others was never part of the plan. It just happened. And I tell people to recognize their power because collectively we are powerful enough to change all of the problems that exist in the world, if only we worked hard enough and believed in ourselves. And part of the work that I do as an activist is demanding that we all challenge the power structures and our own personal privileges. I want people to use that power for the good of others, and then relinquish it. It’s not enough to simply acknowledge privilege yet hold on to it.

[k.p.] Your Instagram is a great place for a crash course in starting conversations and discussing narratives people don't always want to talk about. Has it always come naturally for you to have these conversations?

[s.r.] No, it hasn’t. My activism and the conversations I have are the result of years of educating myself and personal growth. I’ve always been a person who was seeking answers or wanted to know more, but conversations and teaching others didn’t come until I did the work myself. Everyday I learn something new. Everyday I research and strive to go deeper in my understanding of the world. And in my opinion, more people need to do that. There’s a lot of talking happening everywhere, people giving opinions on everything from their own narrow viewpoint. Many never seek to expand their brain or even ask themselves where they got certain opinions from. It’s a dangerous place to be when opinions are valued more the facts.

[k.p.] Full-time activism is a huge commitment. Was there any particular event that made you go full-time or was it an inevitability to which you were always headed?

[s.r.] I mean... both. Being born a Black woman and having incidents happen everyday is what drove me to this. To me, being Black and being alive as an act of activism.

[k.p.] In a post on Instagram, you made a list about the things you learned from your Saturn return. Mine is coming up next March. What advice would you give to people who are about to go through their Saturn return? How has this time of reflection helped you in the activism you've been doing?

[s.r.] A few things:

Start getting in touch with your inner child. Late 20s are rough. It challenges us in so many ways that most of us were never prepared for and out of all the work I’ve done on healing and growth, the most impactful thing was to stop ignoring that small voice inside of me. We are often so harsh and critical of ourselves and would never say to others most of the things that we say to ourselves. I like to picture that I’m talking to my inner child, and imagine what that would look like if she was sitting in front of me. My advice is - gentleness with yourself, listening to what the child needs, teaching the child, learning from the child, and making decisions with ourselves and our impact with the world based on what is best for all children. Taking mental health seriously. Whether that be going to therapy, support groups, writing, or reading books about self-improvement, it’s all important. As is learning to take time to understand the things that have negatively impacted your life and how to have healthy relationships. The Saturn return is an important time to work on all the things that, for years, many of us said we were “fine” about. Often around this time old things begin to resurface. The return is about transitioning and growth. We need clarity and awareness to do both.

It has helped my activism by demanding that I put myself first. That I cannot do all the things I want to accomplish if I give everything I need away to others. And that teachers need rest to.

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If you’re looking to expand your knowledge, ShiShi offers an ingenious advice service - for a fee, ShiShi will answer your questions. On her website, she says, “After hundreds of DM's weekly and not tons of appreciation for the emotional toll it takes on a person to advise people constantly - I decided to make this page. It would have been easy for me to just stop answering the messages but that's not my style… So if the question means enough, ask it here. Pay people for services given to you. Pay for what you've learned already even if you don't have a question. Here I'll provide advice on everything that I feel capable of answering.”

Follow ShiShi's work:
Instagram: ShiShi.Rose
Twitter: ShiShi_Rose
Her website: http://www.shishirose.com/