• John & Vivett Dukes

Surviving The Daily Trauma of Being A Black Woman In America

I tried to drink it away I tried to put one in the air I tried to dance it away I tried to change it with my hair I ran my credit card up Thought a new dress make it better I tried to work it away But that just made me even sadder I tried to keep myself busy I ran around circles Think I made myself dizzy I slept it away, I sexed it away I read it away - “Cranes In The Sky”, by Solange

I remember when I first heard this song. Tears rolled from my eyes. It was as if Solange had peered into the deepest sentinels of the pages of my soul, ripped out a page from it, and hung it on the wall of the world’s public restroom wall. The lyrics to this song speak the sentiments of the hearts of so many Black women in America. Without a doubt, we have been traumatized and continue to be traumatized at every turn of our existence. 

The purposeful destruction of our family unit from enslavement to the diabolical introduction of drugs, AIDS, and crime into our most highly-concentrated neighborhoods causes us trauma. The systematic, disproportionate mass incarceration of our Black men and now us Black women causes us trauma. Having to work twice as hard to get paid half as much and still not have enough to make ends meet causes us trauma. The way we are mammified, stupefied, or hyper-sexualized by mainstream media outlets causes us trauma. The incessant micro-aggressions hurled at us by well and ill-intentioned privileged people causes us trauma. The traumas we endure are the kind that, like soil beaten by years of harsh winds and wild storms, erodes away the very fibers of our being. 

Yet all the while we smile.

We are strong, but sometimes to a fault. By continuously giving and giving and giving without taking the time to refill our own soul’s cup, we harm ourselves mentally, spiritually, emotionally, economically, socially, and physically. Being strong is taxing. Sometimes we are so strong that when we cry or show other signs of humanity that defy the super woman persona that has been donned upon us seemingly since the beginning of humankind’s existence we are looked upon and feel as though somehow we are less than. The truth is the trauma we as Black women experience is one that only other Black women can truly understand. It is our collective pains and celebrations that we share in the company of our homegirls and sistah friends that is the best medicine for our bleeding hearts. This is why it pains me so much when we downgrade each other and tear each other down. This is not the way! This is NOT OUR way!  

I understand the importance of affirming and celebrating each other and I encourage all of my sistah friends out there to do the same. Building friendships and sustaining meaningful relationships with each other. That is a key solution to reducing — eradicating — surviving the daily trauma of being a Black woman in America. On this Women’s History Month and always, I want you to know how beautiful you are, my fellow Black Queens. I see you on those prison visits all dolled-up while lugging those heavy bags laden with pounds of food just so you know he he has food to eat. I see you carrying and caring for children’s day to day needs that you didn’t make by yourself, but you raise by yourself. I see you in college and grad school earning top grades while holding down a full-time job. I see your efforts. I love you for them. You are phenomenal. You are appreciated. You are loved. You are forever to Speak Ya Truth, as painful and beautiful as it may be. It needs to be heard. Your voice matters. You, Queen, matter. Remember that. 

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