I encounter Black women everyday who are the embodiment of beauty, love, joy, and peace.
I’m also aware of and inspired by the whole-hearted warriors who redefined Black womanhood and centered self-care, unity, and love in their fight for Black liberation.
I love, appreciate, respect, and admire those women. But, today, I want to talk about angry Black women; about broken Black women. Moreover, today I’d like to discuss what it’s like to watch one’s self become an angry Black woman. I want to explore how it happens, when it happens, why it happens, and to whom it happens. Because, believe me, it DOES happen.
I’ll start with the obvious. Black women experience depression at higher rates than both our Black male, white male, and white female counterparts and receive treatment at rates far lower than the aforementioned groups.
And though Black women experience depression more than all other demographics, Black men aren’t doing much better. Black people, in general, struggle with trauma related disorders more often than anyone else.
What are the implications of that? Well, if you’re a Black woman, know a Black woman, love a Black woman, or were raised by a Black woman, you probably know that, culturally speaking, Black women, though not always acknowledged as such, are the center of the Black universe. We raise children. We support men. We build movements.
We protect our babies from people and systems from which we’re still struggling to protect ourselves.
We love, support, and defend traumatized, ailing Black men who are targeted by police, incarcerated at alarming rates, shot and killed in cold blood, and emasculated by a world that consistently rejects them.
We are building movements with and for groups of people who have been mentally and spiritually abused and who, in turn, mentally and spiritually abuse us.
My mind has known this for a long time, but now my heart knows it. Now, my soul knows it.
I’ve always hovered on the verge of Black, womanist anger…..
But, this year, more specifically this summer, I came barrelling into full blown untempered rage.
And I didn’t see it coming because I thought I was okay. I thought that I could carry the trauma of sexual assault, push through the stress of combatting toxic, racist, capitalist systems of oppression, overcome the anguish associated with losing people I deeply and honestly love, simply recover from the disappointment I experienced every time someone who professed belief in the vision for autonomy abandoned the movement behind it, ignore the indignation I felt at Black male silence, and shake the burdensome weight of being a Black woman in America without ever missing a beat.
Afterall, what is the alternative for a Black woman; a woman who, in one way or another, is responsible for the fate of the universe? What options are there for those of us whose responsibilities transcend individualism? More specifically, does choice exist for Black women who have pledged their hearts, souls, and lives to furthering the movement? We have, essentially, picked up the baton in the relay race for freedom and will, most definitely, be found culpable if the leg of the race we’ve claimed as our own is run without the fervor our ancestors ran theirs with.
I have a responsibility. So, I plowed through the pain, the disillusionment, the frustration, the exhaustion, and the feelings of abandonment and betrayal. I plowed through all of that and right into active participation in the cycle of abuse that precipitated my own suffering.
That’s how I got here. That’s how I became an angry, Black woman. That’s how my thoughts became less than kind and how love left my interactions with others. That’s how I became combative, volatile, mercurial, secretly resentful of and bitter towards almost everyone in my life. Though I acknowledge that, in this moment, I am consumed by anger, I am also resolved to move beyond it.
I trust that this tiny flicker in time will not define my life, my character, or my contribution to the struggle for liberation.
My work must and WILL be a labor of love; nothing more and nothing less. And I’m dedicated to undertaking the healing, listening, and growing that will cement my ability to experience and demonstrate the soul-deep, unconditional love that movement work requires.
To my fellow angry, Black women:
Let’s go to the gun range.
Let’s yell without fear of being judged.
Let’s cry over the words of Ntozake, Zora, Alice, bell, Maya, and Octavia.
Let’s dance in white sand and dip our toes in the ocean.
Let’s love one another, unconditionally, nakedly, and vulnerably.
I love you. You aren’t alone.