"While I know many people are framing this experience as one of joy, what I am seeing is a release of anxious energy that is as complicated as the systems that we are asked to function in. "
It’s 4:48am and I can’t sleep anymore this evening. I’ve been up for about an hour thinking about how I am feeling and trying to sort through emotions, so excuse me if this feels a little jumbled. This is on my heart today...
Yesterday felt like a collective sigh of relief for so many. I have to admit that I live in some kind of a bubble. I have moved to suburbia. Social distancing means that I rarely physically interact with people who do not live in my home. I do not engage with the news regularly for extended periods of time and I am so careful about curating my social media that I only see the things that are relevant to my daily experiences. For these reasons, much of the intensity of the world I see through the eyes of my clients and the ladies who are in R.A.W.
So, when the election results came out yesterday while we were finishing up a session of Level 1 I think I had a bit of shock. I am not oblivious, I know how important this election is for so many. But I don’t think it resonated with me the depth of anxiety that Black women held in their bones for what would happen next. While I know many people are framing this experience as one of joy, what I am seeing is a release of anxious energy that is as complicated as the systems that we are asked to function in.
"And yet, the truth is we are voting based on hope."
This election, the results and the meaning of it all feels like a microcosm of the experience of the Black woman. At my last statistical glance 98% of Black women voted for Biden. At the time I am writing, Stacey Abrams' historic voter rights and registration campaign in Georgia is being lauded as the reason the state turned from "red" to "blue" for the first time in decades. These are likely THE major reasons for a democratic victory. And yet, the truth is we are voting based on hope. We are choosing a side, but have yet to experience a system that has taken care of us, in the ways that we take care of others.
We are looking to see if there will be changes in laws to decriminalize our skin. We want safe communities that do not price us out of living there. We are prayerful for changes to immigration laws that allow our families to be reunited and/or stay together. We are wanting our pay to be equal to the value of our work and, at least, match our cohorts. We want guarantees that Black women will stop dying in childbirth and Black babies will be born healthy. We want food security and healthy affordable options in our communities. We want our children to be able to receive quality education without so much debt that it limits wealth. Hell, we want our student loan debt wiped out.
Perhaps the most heart wrenching for me is that above all, Black women want to be seen, heard, acknowledged and honored for all that we do to take care of others. We want to be seen as humans in all that complexity, not just oversexualized images, motherhood memes or angry depictions that question our inherent value until we are needed. We want it to mean something this time. We want to actually receive tangible benefits from our hard work, so that (maybe) we don’t have to continue to work so hard. Maybe we can rest or at least have the choice to rest.
"If Black women are all we have to hold on to and depend on, then as Black women we are in the most capable hands..."
On Monday in Level 2 the question we ended on was: “why do Black women always have to feel pain so there can be beauty?” and the persistent question that is always there is “why do we have to take care of everyone?” The truth is, I have no answer.
But as we ‘release’ over the next few days and the reality of what we have ahead sinks in, I am asking that we not get dismayed. I am asking that we continue to see the complexity of the situation that we are in. I am asking that we make room to breathe always. That we find moments of joy always. That as we hope, we see where we need to continue to fight. That WE take care of EACH OTHER even as we want others to take care of us. That WE celebrate the wins to come, and grieve any losses together as well.
If Black women are all we have to hold on to and depend on, then as Black women we are in the most capable hands if we can lean on and depend on each other. So, I want to encourage you to thank a Black woman today. Take care of a Black woman today. Love on a Black woman today...especially if she is in the mirror.