Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Soul of this Black Woman

I was asked about three months ago to contribute to piece "A Look into the Souls of Black #sapros" for The Student Affairs Collective. In this piece, four Black student affairs professionals answer the question presented in W.E.B. DuBois "Souls of Black Folk": "how does it feel to be a problem?" specifically now, in the 21st century. I wanted to share below my full response to that question as the piece on The Student Affairs Collective blog only shared an excerpt:

1. Exist

I struggle writing about what it feels like to be a problem for what I know is a predominately white audience with whom I have engaged in conversations with in the past that has remained in the head space and not heart space. This question is one that does not linger in my head but rather in the depths of my soul.

To be a problem in the 21st century, to explore that reality, I could only speak from a heart space, from the area in the deepest of my core that holds all of my fears, worries, intimidations, hopes, and sorrows. It would require the absence of respectability and the disregard of professionalism for the sake of proclaiming my humanity but I cannot do that because even in this space there are parameters to what I can say and how I can say it. It is because I am a problem. In my black womanhood my existence is a problem, my being is a problem and as a result my writing this is in essence a problem. 

As W.E.B Du Bois said, "And yet, being a problem is a strange experience, - peculiar even for one who has never been anything else..." 

To be a problem and to be a Black woman is to constantly live in my double-consciousness, maybe even a triple-consciousness. Knowing that at the intersection of my blackness and womanhood there is the me I know, there is the me I present to the world, and there is the me that people are taught to see –how I am perceived is a product of the many histories, experiences, and narratives told (or not told) of the women who came before me.   

It is strange though, being a problem. But we have known nothing else. The feeling is indescribable, but I will try. It's like the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re going down big roller coaster drop, like a hundred horses trampling on your chest- it's the not knowing if this predominately white room, restaurant, movie theater, meeting, university I'm in is also occupied by someone who hates my being. Not knowing if the police sirens behind me might result in my rape or death for no other reason than my black womanness, my existence being a problem. That my little brother or even my future children, the beautiful black babies I might have, with the glowing mark of their ancestors will be unwanted, unloved by the world, deemed thug, violent, stupid, ghetto. That I, as a black woman know the safest place for my children would be in their non-existence or housed forever inside of my womb. That nothing other than their blackness might result in someone being careless and reckless with their life.

And once again - I am vulnerable – I share my feelings and hope that someone will finally hear me-us. I beg you not to look for statistics and numbers, a theory or policy to prove what we feel. You cannot quantify our reality. You cannot theorize our fear. We all have problems but to BE a problem – that is immeasurable. The feeling at our core, the feeling that saves us, ignites us, unites us, pushes us, breaks us, scares us, motivates us – it is all we have ever needed, “An American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder” 


No comments:

Post a Comment