Black Women Carry The Load
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.
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.
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 She Runs It Facebook group for Mastermind opportunities with other entrepreneurial women of color. 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.