Who I Am . . . A Poem for Black Women

Who I Am . . . A Poem for Black Women

Black Women Carry The Load

The founders of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi as examples of the strength of black women and the adversity it bears. Part of article on mariedeveaux.com career coaching for women and minorities disrupting business spaces.
Patrisse Cullors (L) with Alicia Garza (C) and Opal Tometi (R), the three women behind #blacklivesmatter

Women are always carrying a disproportionate amount of the load.  And I wrote a poem about it. We do more in the home, we do more on the job.  And now, more than ever there seems to be a trend in noticing just how much more, in particular, Black Women are carrying.  With the Black Lives Movement, we are hearing that women are the ones burying sons, husbands, raising children alone,and are still compelled to look a man in the eye and know he is scared and embarrassed, knowing that he cannot protect us from the world.  It is also women who are doing the heavy lifting organizing, educating, and supporting communities. These are the responsibilities we bear.

With Strength and Power Comes Haters

Black women, especially are out earning their male counterparts, showing up more in education, raking in the post graduate degrees at a faster rate and yet at home, we are still carrying the bulk of the load. Quietly and resolutely.  Harper’s Bazaar wrote an article about this phenomenon, in part.  The author chronicles the “emotional labor” of being a homemaker, and all of the “unseen” work that is being done.

Like many women, I identified with the writer in thinking about all the ways women step up when no one else will, and it reminded me that’s why women are such powerful leaders.  And in part, why we are so feared, scorned and denigrated by others in our society.  You only get haters when you are really good at what you do. This is a poem I wrote a few weeks ago as I contemplated Black Women in our society.  And now, with so many conversations around identity, there have been queries about whether even these identities are pure social constructs that can be easily molded and changed at will. I don’t know ’bout you, but I can’t stop being a Black Woman. Thoughts? I wrote a poem.

Totem

I have always been a black woman

There is no beginning and no end

It has always been me

She has always been me..

 

In the blackness

In the woman-ness

Standing tall and often alone But not alone

Always surrounded by and looking up to all others.

The white men

The white women

The gay men

The black men.

All the black men

 

Stacked on top of my shoulders

Struggling like me

But not like me

Stretching, reaching up, and pushing down all at once

Not remembering my shoulders when their faces finally feel the sun

Asking why my shoulders are bruised

Why my back is broken, My breath short, My eyes weary

 

And ain’t I a woman?

I smile to myself

I cry to myself

I hold myself dear

 

Because sometimes the only person a black woman can turn to is the black woman

And Maxine reclaims our space

And Luvvie says stand up

And Ava pushes our faces under their gaze

 

And with our beaten bodies and abandoned dreams we collect each other.

Whispering affirmations

Absorbing the tears

Remembering that this world that has us on the bottom is only there off the strength of our bodies

Light of Our souls

Depth of Our love

 

And my heart breaks ever so slowly and melts into the earth below

 

How do you process the struggles and stresses of womanhood in your life?  I write? What’s your process?  I would love to continue the conversation in the comments.

 

Interested in partnering with other professional Black Women who are striving to get to the next level?  Check out the Infinite Black Woman Facebook group for Mastermind opportunities starting this November.  Also if you liked this piece, check out, Let America Be where I use poetry to express some of the turmoil around the current state of the American psyche.

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