Lover. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Writer. Poet. Educator. Teacher. Organizer. Healer. Mentor. Student. These are just a few of the roles that I play in the different acts of my life. For the most part, I like to think that I play these roles rather well. Sometimes my performance may not be up to par for every show, but I am still a star even on my worst day.
But lately, I have been tired. Actually, exhausted is probably a better word. This exhaustion goes beyond physical (although I feel this in my bones); this is also spiritual exhaustion. My soul is tired. And no amount of sleep has been helping. The energy that I used to have to show up for myself and others is waning. Certain things that used to bring me joy, that would restore me, no longer have that same effect. The restoration never lasts long. Something always seems to come along and undo the peace that I have worked so hard to create. And I am tired of my peace being undone.
As a Black womxn, society has also forced us into many roles that we did not ask to play. Mammy. Mule. Savior. Superwoman. So many things are expected of people who hold the identities of being both Black and womxn. Burdens are put upon our shoulders, and whether we bear them with a smile or grimace, we are expected to do so quietly. If you have been on social media within the last year, I am sure you have seen some variation of “Black womxn will save us/the United States'' tweeted by well-meaning people.
Well, I am here to tell you: NOT THIS BLACK WOMXN.
I will not be a martyr, mammy, or mule for this cis-hetero patriarchal white supremacist state. I am not here to save anyone who is not already actively doing the work to save themselves. Are you out here unlearning the harmful “-isms'' that we have all been socialized to believe and act out? Are you seeking out ways to heal the hurt that lives inside of you? Are you intentionally holding yourself accountable for how you can be an accomplice in the struggle? And by “struggle,” I mean the collective liberation of all oppressed peoples both in the United States and abroad. If you are doing all this, and more, then you do not need Black womxn to save you because we will be working together. When it comes to liberation, we all have a role to play, not just Black womxn.
Zora Neale Hurston tells us that if we are silent about our pain, they’ll kill us and say we enjoyed it. So, Black womxn, I am here to tell you to be loud. Save yourself first before you try to save anyone else. It is time to put down the cape.