Means learning to be soft to plight of others. Long, delicate brown fingers brush away the tears of the same people who will turn a hard shoulder to us. Patient ears listening to woes of those that are often deaf to us. Plush bosom crutching tightly to heads that quickly away when the hour of need is concluded. Often criticized by our own men. Too often fetishized by the men of others. Always admiring, never the “prize”.
In relationships, personal and private, we will give and be taken. We will have our value questioned to a degree that it makes us question our very selves. We will have our worth challenged. We will have this come at us from every direction: North, South, East, and West.
We will be reminded that every man is stronger than we are. And every silky-haired woman, more beautiful. That no matter how hard fought our intelligence, it is as crumpled as old newspaper on the mere point that we are black women, “and who do we think we are?”
Even as we wear our emotions on sleeves, they will be assigned to us. If we are boisterously happy, we are angry and overly animated. If we are feeling a bit blue, we are angry and being aloof. If we are feeling quiet and bit reserved, we are angry and being standoffish. Point being, we are often associated with being angry even if anger was not yet an emotion we had considered. But who wouldn’t be angry to always have someone accusing you of being so? I know, for a fact, we are tired.
If you are exceptional in any way, you are excused as an anomaly. Often ignoring the many of other fantastically talented black women alongside you. But no worries, they will also find little, insidious ways to tear you down. Find your tender spots. Remind you that you are not unique. You are not special. You are simply lucky. Or clever for a talking monkey. Your talent, whatever it is, is not quality enough. Someone else was better than you in these specific enumerated ways. Please don’t forget your place… or get too uppity. You are too difficult to control when you have too much pride.
And although, we serve our men and our children often to the detriment of our own desires, personal growth, and mental health, we are told that we are willful and pushy and demanding.
People neither mind talking about us behind our backs anymore than they do to our faces. And although, we have the reputation for “keeping it real”, we are often told that everything about us fake. Ignoring that there is no more trickery amongst black women than other woman, but somehow while we are viewed more lowly, we are held to higher standard.
Being a black woman, is to know and understand each of these conflicts placed before you, find your strength, and go forward. Carrying this constant weight on our shoulders has only made us more robust. But while we are strong, we do cry. And we can bend, but we do break. But we will not stay broken.