All my life I have been angry. Outraged. Ill-tempered. Quick to implode, to burst, to react. Racism was familiar with my character — these have always been the traits to first ascend during my encounters with it. I was always the girl ready to assert my voice, doing the calling out, the “dragging,” taking the no-nonsense road when confronted with ignorant and vile comments. I was always the angry black girl: the girl whose non-black counterparts found her intimidating, too vocal, too aggressive when dealing with her own dehumanization. I was the girl who would swipe up on the post about how “blue lives matter,” the girl who was eager to assist in the discussion of cultural appropriation, the girl who always asked white people to elaborate on their coded statements regarding race.
But now I am tired. I am exhausted. I feel disheartened, heavy, grief. I feel what my anger has suppressed for years all at once, what has been brewing inside since my first microaggression. My anger has caught up with me; it has stripped me. It has taken away whatever motivation or obligation there was to confront and exposed a new layer of vulnerability. My mind cannot sustain my own anger anymore. I am the sad black girl. I am the girl who has to delete social media for days at a time during the peak of social justice to breathe without burden. I am the girl who can’t stand to read the rest of the comments. I am the girl too tired to ask for details because I know my heart cannot handle the answer anymore.
I am the one who has finally accepted the fact that empathy cannot be taught, and it’s a suffocating reality. The pain lingers: it follows me as I scroll, tap, view. It intensifies when I realize that no one, not even those I explain or implore to, could understand my sentiments unless they were just like me. There is a harrowing loneliness in being a black woman not surrounded by black women. I thought I had my white allies to lean on, but I do not. I thought I had my non-black friends to understand me fully, but they do not. I thought I had black male companions, but throughout the waves of misogyny I have experienced in my life, I’ve realized, a bit too late, that maybe not.
All the black woman has is her own. We hold our own hands, we understand our own battles, we pick each other up. Nobody can understand us except us; nobody can feel our pain except us.
And for that, we deserve to be tired. To scroll past the post. To ignore the comment. To delete the apps. For that, we do not owe anything to anyone except ourselves. We owe ourselves peace. We owe ourselves self-love. We cannot find that anywhere else except within ourselves.
I beg black women to breathe during this time, to lessen their consumption of media, and to realize that we are together fighting the most intense battle of them all. I am tired, and you can be too.
words_nailah edmead, design_olivia ginsberg