This week has been a week for Black women. Some celebrated Kamala Harris becoming the first Black woman to be a major party’s nominee for vice president while others highlighted the ways her policies as a prosecutor harmed other Black women, notably poor Black women. Still others leaned into their misogynoir and began using racist and derogatory terms to describe Kamala Harris. We saw a Black woman, Maya Moody, begin the process of getting a restraining order for “rapper, entrepreneur and activist” (yes activist), Talib Kweli, because he has been continually harassing her online (for 40+ days now). This week, Black women highlighted the colorism in the Black Love teaser, noting that it was almost all darker skinned men with lighter skinned women. This week we were reminded of the stories of sexual harassment from Black women at the hands of Trey Songz. We saw a Black woman be tased on her own front porch and then be arrested. Last night, Megan Thee Stallion admitted that Tory Lanez shot her, and she did not to tell the police what happened because she wanted to protect them from those who are supposed to “protect and serve” but often brutalize Black people. Meanwhile, the people who had so much to say about the WAP video are silent. Also, there still hasn’t been true accountability in Breonna Taylor’s case. It’s been a long week for Black women, but this is nothing new. Given all that has happened, I thought about what it would look like to hear a message or sermon on Sunday that could address the complexities of what it means to be a Black woman in the United States, and I decided to write something. The piece took on a mind of its own.
For My Black Women
(as inspired by Margaret Walker’s “For My People”)
This is for my Black women. This is for ALL my Black women.
For my Black women, my Christian black women, my faithful Black women, my spiritual Black women. This is for those of us who trust God to protect us from the harms of society and for those who trust their ancestors to do the same. We seek God for ourselves. We “find God in ourselves and love her, love her fiercely.” We live our lives committed to our faiths, even when it feels like God or our belief systems fail us, trusting in the one who sees. Even in times when we feel as though there is no place for us within our faith institutions, we create our own spaces, our own hush harbors. We recognize that we are divine, holy and sanctified in our own rights.
For my beautiful Black women who have loved ourselves when society has left us out of their representations of love as a result of their colorism, fatphobia, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, and more. This is for beautiful Black women who have learned to love ourselves first. This is a love that needs no validation from anyone else, a powerful self-love. Within this self-love, we take care of the sacred bodies that we’ve been given and love them fully and completely, even when they are deemed unworthy of love by others but always worthy of love by God.
This is for unprotect Black women. Black women who have been made to prove their harm and harassment and still aren’t believed and/or are called rats and snitches. This is for Black women whose hurt and pain is dismissed and made light of, even joked about, at times by other Black women. Still, Black women continue to speak up and share their stories, finding support amongst other Black women and sometimes other allies. We Black women protect each other and support each other and affirm each other. We become the mothers, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers for the motherless children, knowing the power that can come in a laying on of hands and grandmother’s prayers. The women who like I imagine those in the Exodus story advocated for Miriam won’t let anyone be left behind.
This is for my neglected Black women. The women hurt by politics and dismissed by politics. The women for which symbolism is just another reminder of the ways in which those who should take their best intentions and needs in mind have failed them. This is for the women who have become activists and organizers and womanists because they had no other choice. They had to raise their voices and advocate for a better world for their children. For a world that would love their children in the same way it loved the little white kids. For a world that would affirm their need for good housing and healthcare and economic opportunities. For a world where they don’t have to fear and worry that their kids will be killed or incarcerated.
This is for my nasty Black women and my angry Black women. Women who aren’t afraid to speak up and speak out. Like the Syrophoenician woman called out Jesus are willing to call out people, places, and institutions that would seek to silence and dismiss us. This is for the women who are “unbought and unbossed” and won’t take no mess because we are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” We no longer seek a seat at the table but have flipped the table and decided to create our own. We shatter glass ceilings and destroy the tower so all can have access.
This is for my Black women who have grown tired of having to be strong all the time because attributed strength has been used as a means of dismissing our pain. This is for my Black women simply living and being Black women, our existence resistance. We are coming to a point where we are throwing the world off our backs because we are no longer the mule of the world and we won’t be treated as the clean-up crew that always has to come in and “save” society. This is for the women learning to prioritize our own self-care because the stress of the world will kill us if we let it.
Let us grow and break free from the oppressive mindsets, theologies, and systems of the world. Let us come to a deeper understanding, appreciation, and love of the self, regardless. Let us continue the work of the women who came before us in making our presence known and demanding the respect we deserve. Let those who claim to be allies and co-conspirators rise to the occasion to remind us that we are not alone. Let God continue to bless the work of the Black women, and may we continue to uplift and see the divine in each other. Let a sisterhood of women “now rise and take control.” ♦