THERE’S NO GREATER SOLITUDE THAN BEING SURROUNDED BY INTELLIGENT, SEEMINGLY OPEN MINDS YET STILL FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD.
“Is it just me?”, “Am I crazy?”
I’ve gotten so used to second guessing the validity of my opinions, even as it specifically pertains to my own experiences that it becomes almost necessary to hear out loud, that I’m not alone.
It feels weighted. In ways I never before felt. In ways no one has ever prompted me to expect. The deafening silence in my corner when I’m being represented by my blackness coupled with my womanness. The light hearted dismissal of layered oppression tuned to the key of, “it’s not that deep,” is enough to make me want to refrain from speaking indefinitely because, what’s the point?
THE WHIPLASH OF BEING PULLED AND TOSSED BETWEEN ACCEPTANCE AND DISMISSAL. TO FEEL SO NECESSARY AN ENTITY WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY FEELING DISREGARDED AS AN ENTITY — IT REQUIRES REINFORCEMENT ALL TOO OFTEN.
There’s so much we get lost in at the intersections of as black women. Within racially charged movements, the injustices to our femininity are overlooked, discounted and overshadowed, while within sexually charged movements, the trauma is somehow discredited because of our race and “safe space” has become just another buzz word for pseudo-empathetic efforts that aren’t honestly curated with us in mind.
It’s been a long road that we’ve woefully traveled for so long but those woes have rarely been acknowledged as anything other than our own fault or contents of our imagination.
Maybe it’s a fairly new phenomena or maybe it’s something that’s always been there that the use of social media has magnified, either way, black women have been creating corners for themselves and their sisters and standing in them — against all odds.
Black women have, in large part, put their woes on the back burner and taken to being the lead and supporting roles of their own story — all across the globe. As a result, sistahood doesn’t always look like wine downs at a girlfriend’s house with giddy chatter about how our weeks have been. Sometimes it looks like watching videos via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Youtube eagerly typing “yasssss sis” to cheer on a sista halfway around the world that has recently put down her baggage and got in her bag. It looks like delving into books written by black women, nodding when they’re right, verbally correcting their pages when they’re wrong, crying when they’ve been wronged and laughing when they’re happy. It looks like randomly realizing you’ve never actually met the woman on the other end of your text messages/DMs but you’ve been so connected that it feels like you’ve known her your whole life. Sistahood looks and feels like self-help, like looking into the face of another black woman and seeing me and as a result, treating her as well as I desire to be treated myself.
I once had a friend — a black man — almost excitedly mention a movement he noticed, of liberated black women owning their spaces, their voices, their bodies, their excellence — noting how beautiful it was. He subsequently asked how he, a supportive black man, could get in on it.
I EXPLAINED THAT IT WASN’T HIS PLACE TO “GET IN ON IT”. THE MOVEMENT THAT HE NOTICED WAS THE RISE OF THE BLACK WOMAN AGAINST HER NEED FOR VALIDATION FROM HER BLACK MALE COUNTERPART, FROM HER WHITE FEMALE COUNTERPART, AND FROM HER WHITE MALE OPPOSITE.
What he noticed was the black woman owning her right to exist with no apology for doing so. What he was admiring was the black woman claiming for herself all that has been due her without asking for the praise, the opportunities, the patience due her and that while there would always be space in a black woman created world, for the black man, the black man’s place in this particular movement was on the sideline or behind whatever black woman he was blessed enough to love and support directly.
He didn’t seem to favor this response, though he couldn’t help but acknowledge the accuracy of it based on the energy he had witnessed himself. I further explained that the black man, on a whole, has had the opportunity to uplift the black woman and has largely failed to do so — sometimes themselves furthering the dismissive nature of the bitter/angry black woman narrative, or simply by just as harmfully keeping silent when expressed support would go further.
The era of “Yass Queen” brought about by the black woman has been the expressed love and support for us and by us that was long due to us. So, in this case, the best role for a black man was a supporting role, behind the curtains, in the stands or in the seat of their barber’s chair quashing the irreverent talk about the black woman that he has long been complicit in, whether explicitly or silently.
There has been no shortage of noise combatting everything from the joyful cheers to the pain filled cries of the black woman. But, from what I can recall of my bigger trials, they only seem to appear when I made efforts at becoming a force. “The devil won’t bother you unless you’re a threat.” And so, I have no choice but to presume that black women are a force to be reckoned.