“I been standing with you! I been right here with you, Troy. I got a life too. I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot with you. Don’t you think I ever wanted other things? Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? What about me? Don’t you think it ever crossed my mind to want to know other men? That I wanted to lay up somewhere and forget about my responsibilities? That I wanted someone to make me laugh so I could feel good? You not the only one who’s got wants and needs. But I held on to you, Troy. I took all my feelings, my wants and needs, my dreams . . . and I buried them inside you. I planted a seed and watched and prayed over it. I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom. And it didn’t take me no eighteen years to find out the soil was hard and rocky and it wasn’t never gonna bloom. But I held on to you, Troy. I held you tighter. You was my husband. I owed you everything I had. Every part of me I could find to give you. And upstairs in that room . . . with the darkness falling in on me . . . I gave everything I had to try and erase the doubt that you wasn’t the finest man in the world. And wherever you was going . . I wanted to be there with you. Cause you was my husband. Cause that’s the only way I was gonna survive as your wife. You always talking about what you give . . . and what you don’t have to give. But you take, too. You take . . . and don’t even know nobody’s giving!” Rose – Fences, August Wilson
This world takes. It robs. It covets. It specializes in thievery with no apology. No remorse. No forgiveness. No reparations.
This world is like a newborn baby, mouth wide open, greedily sucking sustenance in, with no regard of what or where it pulls from. No concern for the woman. The life source. The mother. The Black woman that has suckled pain and humiliation at her breast and still managed to bring forth life.
This is the Black Woman. The Foundation of Creation. Yet often Black women are the ones overlooked. Neglected. Forced to lead a back-burner existence. So many try to understand us, attempt to tell who we are and who we should be. Black women are the most analyzed women in the world.
If it is not our hair, it is our hips. If it is not our hips, it is our lips. If it is not our lips, it is our skin. What shade is the “right” shade? Is this shade too dark, too light? Will this shade of Black resonate with White America? Is it light enough for White America not to feel threatened? If it is not our features, it is who we date and who we won’t date, who will date us. Does our body type correlate to the stereotype? The Black woman is oversexualized. Black women aren’t sexy enough. Can you see this Black woman in your bed with her shea butter and head wrap? Can Black women raise kids? Can you bring this Black woman home to your parents? Will she be acceptable? Black women are too loud. Black women always seem angry. Why do Black women have a chip on their shoulder?
It made me wonder, Can Black Women Just Live?I never felt this more as when I watched two blockbuster movies this year, Fences and Get Out. In Get Out, I watched the maid Georgina, standing in front of the protagonist, Chris, trying and failing to hold back her tears. A Black woman wanting to speak the truth, her truth, yet finding herself stifled. Silenced in this White space. Rejecting who she was for them. Muting her voice and forcing herself to smile through her pain. Rose, played by Oscar award winning actress, Viola Davis, delivered a powerful monologue in Fences, that summed up how it felt to be a Black woman. Many of us have been that woman. Standing there fighting with a man. Fighting for someone else’s dreams. Giving your all to someone else’s ambitions. One year of your life turns into multiple years gone, and you hardly know the woman that you have become morphing into someone almost unrecognizable just to please someone else.
In this world, Black women are chameleons. We hide who we are to fit in. We smile when we are crying inside. We mourn deaths of people we will never know. We stand when others sit. We attempt to be all things to all people often at the detriment of ourselves. We scream for justice even when no one is listening. We are always fighting.But there are moments, while often few and far between, that we remember who we are. That we are women. We catch a glimpse of our greatness. We fight to find those moments. Ducking and dodging in between the hurt to stand in our humanity. We dance in between the raindrops. In and out. Finding some piece of happiness. Because it is there. In that sacred place between dew, rain, and sunshine. It is there. Reminding us that we are human. Like déjà vu, we have felt it before. We have been here before. And it feels right. It feels whole. It feels like home.
And so we dance. Dance to rhythms strummed out on the backs of ancestors. We dance to the waves of oceans that carried sinew and bones. We dance to a live a life we never knew, yet believe we can have.
We laugh, loudly.We smile and embrace our sisters. We celebrate the beauty of our skin and the strength of our bodies. We embrace our features, revel in our own beauty.
We rejoice in the sound of our voices, loud, strong and powerful. We find and express our joy in the high fives and head nods, over collard greens and cornbread.
Who we are does not need your analysis. Our bodies do not need your scrutiny. Our living does not require your approval.
We simply are and who we are can never be explained to you. Our existence does not require explanation. You will never understand why we dance, why we sing, why we laugh. You will never understand those moments of freedom. And it is not our job to explain it. To my sisters, do not allow this world to steal those moments of joy. Find those moments and embrace them. Hold them close to your heart. Allow yourself to be human. To breathe. To dance. To laugh. To love. We are Black women. Being. Living. Loving. With no permission need.