June 20th, 2022
In honor of Juneteenth, I thought going unconventional with this piece would be a way to open eyes to how it may feel from a perspective of a Black Woman in leadership as well as in general in times of racial divide.
It is tiring to be in my black skin. Skin that makes me fearful for our babies, our men, our daughters, and our sons. Targeted and viewed as a threat by just having Black skin.
It is tiring to be in my Black skin. It is a skin that once was thought to be contagious by slave owners but well enough to produce babies with our features behind closed doors. It can raise your babies but it has to fight to sit at the table with you. Protesting to learn what you learn and discuss what you discuss and delve into the communities you dwell.
It is tiring to be in my Black skin. Skin that drips of chocolate, caramel, chips o’hoy, fudge, drizzle, swirls, mocha, cocoa......makes you want to clutch your pearls when someone like me is announced in a room and in I enter to emerge as the speaker.
It is tiring to be in my Black skin. A skin enslaved for over 400 years and enduring trauma carried through generations even today. The trauma of my ancestors still lives within me. Makes us hypervigilant about racial injustice. Though unsure of who our ancestors are because of the intentional stripping of our past, our culture, and our lineage. Holding residual trauma because the "body keeps the score." A body coming from the mother, of a mother, of a mother, of a mother, a mother who probably couldn't even read and worked in the fields and kept her head down to make sure she was able to keep her children safe. However, I know she is strong, mighty, and beautiful because I am here! Her spirit is in me and I know nothing of who she may be.
It is tiring to be in my Black skin. Skin that makes a Black man look so handsome with teeth white as pearls but twinkle like diamonds, hands of strength, a smile of gold, and endowed in treasures that make you want to shout hallelujah because this had to be the workings of God to create him!! Sadly this same skin makes society afraid enough to take his life like George, Trayvon, Michael, and let's not forget young Emmitt accused of whistling at a woman at the age of 11. Yet the hate for his color was displayed in the dishonorable manner you left the remains of his body to be viewed by his grieving mother in the city of Chicago. It is explained away to justify, proclaim, contend, maintain, and declare murder by reasonable doubt but with inculpatory evidence. Our Black men now have a fear residing in them so buried in the core he can't even fathom how to address it. Only thinking just make it home. Having to teach today in our young boys, do not resist, do everything you can to make it home. Up against a world meant to destroy him even if and when he uses the very weapons, used against him to succeed in life.
My Black skin is tired but dressed in a Black woman so well that it embodies she descended from Queens of royalty and essence because she walks like one. The sway of her hips, the curve of her breast, the smile on her lips, the depths and passion in her eyes, the intellect she maintains, the certainty of her confidence. These very attributes have been considered aggressive and too direct and now she questions herself and second-guesses her innate abilities. She's now insecure it elicits doubt, makes mistakes, and displays vulnerabilities. So full she empties tears you don't see or hear. Crying out for help but only whispers emerge. Showing up for everyone but is too drained to show up for herself. From afar we admire her strength but up close she's burdened by trying to remain strong.
Yes, my Black skin is tired of being taken by the hands of other Black skin. But harsher punishment comes to us for the same offense yet crimes were and are accepted because it's for the “greater good.” Made profitable either by death, procreation, or from the delicacy of our hurting hands. All the while disadvantaging us the very fruits of labor stemmed from our backs. Dr. King expressed “It is alright to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”
Yet, it is thought my skin doesn’t get tired. I don't get to bring these things up but constantly reminded by your microaggressions, colorful innuendos, covert statements, news, and media displays of the disdain you feel. Living in resource deserts indirectly increases crime, and health disparities because of the lack of healthy food options filled in grocery stores so far and few in between.
Juneteenth is a national holiday to remember when a race of Black individuals was actually freed in 1865, almost 100 years beyond the Declaration of Independence that declared, “all MEN are created equal,” but only applying to White people of property. 250,000-plus slaves had no idea of their independence in the South more than 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation after the end of the Civil War. Its importance to Black people is the acknowledgment that all Black people were free.
Written by Lovea Smith, LCPC.
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