for more than two decades attention, conversation, money, advocacy efforts have focused on the plight of Black boys and men to the exclusion of Black girls and women. the entire time i have asked, “what about Black girls and women?” many a Black folk have shushed me and accused me of being hateful. that often repeated accusation and dismal of my valid question angered me and hurt me, but did not shut me up. matters concerning Black girls and women are my birthright and my inheritance. God purposed me to be a champion and advocate for Black girls and women. i was born with girl power and i inherited girl power that evolved into woman power. the spirit in which i speak for Black girls and women precedes formal learning, studying and trends. it is my belief that my birth story informs so much of my living.
i was born to this side of the living on April 14, 1972. i was born prematurely…before my time. my lungs were not fully developed; therefore, i required the support of a breathing machine. my mother was discharged from the hospital before me. my mother and father went home without me. i am not clear about how long i was in the hospital after my birth, just at some point my parents called to see about me. at that time they were told that they could come to take me home. however, when they got there they were then told i was dead. my parents explained they received a phone call that they could come to take me home. turns out my chart was filed incorrectly. in 1972 the chances of premature baby with my condition were slim. apologies were made and my parents received their baby.
my synopsis is 1) i came before my time 2) my lungs were not fully developed therefore needed help to breathe/the struggle was real 3) it was assumed that i would likely not live; my birth story resonates with many times in my life, but specifically i make the connection to my never ending attempts to have Black girls and women be considered and included. doing so is a struggle and often i feel like i cannot breathe… that forces are trying to suffocate me/ silence me so that i will be done already. i figure technology was limited for premature babies in 1972. yet, i thrived. i lived. my soul knows about struggling, fighting and winning. thriving and winning is the part of my birth story that keeps me disrupting and interrupting bad habits and limited perspectives.
my undying commitment to the voices and experiences of Black girls and women was not and is not stimulated by trends in popular culture, public noise, what gets funding, air time etc. we indeed do set trends but we are not a trend to me. right now i am in my feelings about the number of people who are in just the past two years beginning to include the impact of violence in schools, families, and communities on Black girls and now the looping of Black girls into all the conversation about the school to prison pipeline ( i do not like that choice of words to describe the injustices and harm done to Black and Brown children in America’s public schools. it assumes criminality of Black and Brown children and it does not call out blatant racist and classist mindsets.) so i had to get that out..back to my point. what has hurt and angered me the most is the refusal of too many Black women and men to tell the truth and be with the truth that exclusion of Black girls and women too often begins in Black spaces. as i have said before Black people have done the most in attempting to silence, to dismiss and to marginalize my convictions regarding Black girls and women. Y’ all i ain’t mad at you, but i am not fooling with you either. real talk.
know this when all the hashtags like #SayHerName, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackGirlMagic, #BlackGirlsRock and such are no longer trending and some people are done with standing up for us, speaking up for us, dreaming for us, fighting for us, believing in us, loving on us i will continue the struggle that is my birthright and my inheritance. i will struggle to breathe. i will continue to be ahead of my time. i will beat the odds. i am here. we are here. i matter. we matter. #iloveBlackwomen
P.S. the hashtags i mention i have much respect for and i know for many of us they are not a trend but rather a community of sisterhood and pride. no disrespect or shade from me.