Dear Black Women by Yinde Newby

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Dear Black Women,

“There’s so much darkness in the world, but I see beauty left in you girl.” – Justin Timberlake

Dear Black Women,

No I didn’t forget about you. How can I forget about the mother of us all? The strongest, most resilient, beings there are. Black Women, you are magic, I don’t know why we are often forgotten about, why our news never seem to get media coverage. They don’t record our death rates, we don’t know that we are murdered 3 times more than white women are.

They are literally killing us and no one’s keeping up. Sandra Bland, Kory Gaines, Tanisha Anderson, Miriam Carey, Yvette Smith, Shelly Frey, Darnisha Harris, Malissa Williams, Alesia Thomas just to name a few have all been killed by/in police custody.

They tried to get us to believe that our stories weren’t worth covering, that Black women aren’t dying at the same rate as Black males, that we have nothing to worry about, that we should just march quietly and hold signs of our fallen brothers, but who marches for us? Who fights for us? Who spreads the word about us? Women have been carrying the world on their back for years, who’s going to carry us?

Then they call us bitter, we’re bitter and Black because fathers failed to do their jobs, and defined the term inferior and unworthy before we even had a chance to spell it. Because countless men use, belittle, defame, and bash us, we’re bitter because we’re hurt. Because there are a lot of wounds no one has tried to heal, because so many people thought of our bodies as something to glorify but won’t stick around long enough to know the soul inside.

Black women, we aren’t bitter, we aren’t angry, we aren’t ghetto, we aren’t too independent. We’re fighters, mothers, supporters, ambitious, worthy, sometimes fathers, multi-talented, courageous, inspiring, uplifting, and powerful. We don’t conform to the rules of society. No, we won’t cut our dreads, and heat-damage our natural hair to conform to European standards.

No, we don’t have to go natural to get in touch with our roots, and sing to Erykah Badu just to prove we are woke.They want us to fit this image like we shrink on command; they weren’t told that Black women don’t have to bend or change to make other people happy. We’re brilliant whether you see it or not. This world has tried to shake us, break us, eliminate the right for us to vote, make us believe that men won’t want us if we aren’t light skin, 5’5, with a fat ass and long hair.

But who says that we will want them? They tried to separate us in teams, #teamlightskin , #teamdarkskin. Making our babies feel unwanted before they reach the age of 10. Everyone wanted North but no one thought Blue Ivy was cute. They’ve been separating us since house slaves and field slaves. Having us believe that one shade is more powerful than the other just to divide us, but to them when we apply for a job we’re still Black , when we go ask for a loan we are still Black, when we need a cosigner for our business, we are still Black.

They’ve separated us from our sisters long before we could even form a bond with another. Looking down, judging, hating, stealing men all because we were brought up on the ideology of no one wanting us so we have to take. That isn’t true, you can love and wish your sister well without tarnishing your own success. Her blessing never took from yours, we have to build and come together because Black women, we have choices, we have preferences, we don’t need to fit anyone’s guideline, they need to fit ours.

No we don’t only cook, clean, and raise children. We are hustlers, go-getters, bosses, Bill Gates in the making. The power of Black women is that we don’t give up, no matter how many people don’t believe in us, don’t want us, or don’t appreciate us it’s in our nature to bounce back. We are queens, we wear crowns over here, there’s no typical image of what a Black women looks like, because we are versatile and interchangeable.

We are unique, there’s no one like us. Our melanin oozes down our being, we demand attention when we walk in the room. There are Dr. Miamis because people want to photocopy our look; they say we are too dark and too thick but we have people who are using foundation that is way darker than their skin.

We have people putting injections in places injections aren’t supposed to be, just to look like us, and they say that we aren’t game changers, that we aren’t innovative, when we have a whole world flocking towards us just to get the recipe.

No matter how many Black men you date, how many Black  friends you have, how much Black slang you know, how many boxer braids you rock, how sharp your contour line is, how overdrawn your lips are, how tan you make your skin, how “down” you try to be, you can never be a Black woman; Black women are unique. I love you, Black women, even if they don’t love you, or appreciate your complexion — you set the foundation for all things great.

Many won’t understand, many will complain, but there’s something about being a Black woman that can’t be changed.

Love your sister, Yinde


unnamed-5Yinde Newby is a guest writer for theblackertheberry.org. She is a junior journalism & communications major and English minor on the pre-law track at Hampton University. She is a lifestyle blogger, social activist, lover of all things Black, and a hopeless romantic with a dream to change this broken justice system. She believes that mass incarceration has taken over the Black race and she plans to change that by eventually becoming a district attorney. There’s no limit to the work she wants to do, and she believes that she’s living out her purpose according to God’s plan — she won’t stop until she knows she has touched or changed someone’s life. She says “Writing is what I do and who I am! It keeps me sane and relatable. I have things to share, stuff to speak on, testimonies to tell and I do that with my writing. I just want to elevate and uplift the most slept on race.”

The Friend in the Family by Fantasia Alston

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There was this friend in the family

Who always came around

He’d make the kids smile

Whenever they began to frown

He was so damn cool

He was so damn nice

He was so damn handsome

And oh so polite

One day this friend in the family

Gave me a wink

I was in so much shock

I could barely think

Am I going crazy?

That might be so

Fantasia, calm down

It was nothing, let it go

This friend in the family started giving me money

Buying me candy

And calling me honey

I had no guidance

So naive and lost

Wanting to make a friend

No matter the cost

“He wouldn’t hurt a fly”

That’s what everyone would say

But this friend in the family

Tried to rape me one day.



I became a recluse

Always stayed inside

Because on that very tumultuous day

A part of me died

A few cousins took notice

Asked what was wrong

But I kept saying “nothing”

While pretending to be strong

The more time passed

The weaker I became

His presence around my family

Was driving me insane

Who would be next

If he couldn’t get to me

A predator like him

Shouldn’t be free

I finally spoke up

Told my cousins about that day

They were definitely in shock

But brushed what happened away

Acted as if it never happened

So he still came around

The very few I trusted

Had certainly let me down

I guess it wasn’t a big deal

Maybe I should be more vibrant

And when he sexually assaults me again

I should just remain silent.


unnamedFantasia Alston is a guest writer for theblackertheberry.org. She is a 22 year old free spirit  and visionary who spends most of her time  writing poetry, reading (preferably mystery books), and doing whatever she can to help better the community, whether it be volunteering at the nearest homeless shelter or picking up any litter found on the solid surface of the Earth. She also enjoys painting whatever comes to mind, cooking, meditating,  and taking long walks to nowhere.  She currently resides in Columbia, SC. She is a writer for #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE, an organization that supports and empowers girls and women to stay in school. Learn more about her and her work here. Follow her on instagram here.

Learning to Cope with Blackness by Mariah Williams

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I felt heavy most days I went to work. Being Black in corporate America requires one to wear a cloak of confidence and protection just to make it through the day, even the simplest of tasks. The idea of double consciousness has always weighed pretty heavily on me, especially because I’ve routinely been immersed in hegemonic White spaces where the smile I wore did not always reflect what I was thinking or feeling on the inside. I learned at an early age that many people within these spaces, both Black and White, were not always willing to talk about the messiness of race, class and gender, and would rather avoid the uneasiness those topics aroused altogether. I also learned that getting my daily dose of pro-Black conversation would have to come from Black co-workers at Happy Hours or group chats with close friends and not from the workplace.

The fact is, I’m Black, and I state that proudly. But, at any given point in my life, I could walk down the street, be perceived as a threat, wear the wrong clothes, make a sudden movement and my life could be in jeopardy. My White co-workers didn’t see that. To them, I was the articulate Black girl, the one who did well for herself despite being raised by a single mother. To them, I failed to represent the stereotypes of Blackness in this country. I was safe to them, but unfortunately, the privilege their white skin afforded them would always be a threat to me and those who looked like me.

I’ve always had a good understanding of the game I had to play to be successful, but as any Black person knows, it’s beyond tiring, and on days where I wake up to yet another Black body being gunned down by law enforcement, I feel heavy. Extremely heavy. And as much as I hate to admit it, hopeless. Not because I don’t think things will change or because I take the work of my ancestral freedom fighters for granted, but because I am preparing to walk into a place where my co-workers will talk about arbitrary news events to spark conversation or a local bar they visited, and make no mention of what’s happening to Black people in this country, people who look exactly like me. I realize it’s probably naïve of me to expect them to say anything and I don’t really know why I’m surprised, but it’s still an awful feeling to be silenced and to go unseen, to be expected to deal with conditions most people would find unbearable. But, I bite my tongue, because that’s what we are taught to do.

Instead, I want to call out and say the reason for my absence is simple: tired from being Black. I’d say, “I’ll see you all when America starts to acknowledge and value my humanity”.  Truth is, I’d probably never go back if I had to wait on that.

I struggle with juggling the two worlds, even after 24 years of doing it. I imagine that most Black people do. Be it in corporate America or predominantly White universities, the feeling of otherness pulls us down like an anchor. Luckily, I have friends and family outside of work who get it and who are willing to be my soundboard whenever I need it, but I imagine there are people who have no such thing, who have no way of filling their cups back up after long days of feigned smiles and exaggerated laughter with co-workers who are oblivious to what their White privilege affords them.

I don’t pretend to have the solution to how spaces marred by White hegemony can work to acknowledge the experiences of being “the other.”

I simply know that I’m am tired of feeling drained from the battle that comes from being Black in this country and being forced to endure, to get over it and to let it go.

For those of us who have felt trapped in a world where we are unseen and unheard and sometimes even pretend to be someone we are not because we can’t talk about the ties we have to people like Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice, I encourage us to seek out where we can find these communities. The reality is, our workplaces are unlikely to change in the ways we need them to, or if they do, they will adopt the superficial front of diversity and inclusion that most places do these days. Even though they will promote being open, there will never truly be a space to express the realities of the “other” experience.

Breaking the vicious cycle of otherness and lessening the load hegemony brings is a riddle I’ve not yet solved, but I will continue to seek outlets to make this Black life I’m living a bit easier, and I encourage others to do the same.


pictureMariah Williams is a graduate student at VCU pursing a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. She enjoys reading, writing and is passionate about social justice issues within the Black community. She loves her Black and  her magic and wants to become an urban planner who works with women of color to develop cultural and inclusive spaces within neighborhoods and cities.

I Had to Remind Myself

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I had to remind myself

 

Who

I

Am

 

You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

The world knocks you down

to your feet and

Knocks the wind out of you

As if you don’t deserve to breathe

 

It stole my soul

Temporarily

Missing: Myself

Last Seen: Forgetting

Who the fuck she was

 

My search started with a mirror

I was so scared and it was so clear

I knew

Better.

I knew that I was

Better

Than I gave myself credit for.

 

I had to remind myself

 

Who

I

Am

 

I had to rescind the transaction

After I sold myself out

You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

Counterfeit money gets caught up in

Your register

 

I died

and then I was revived when

The mirror told me

 

Who the fuck I am

Livin’

livin PIC EDIT
He does whatever he wants and carelessly spreads his seeds
Tumbleweed the way he rolls around bed to bed, town to town as he please
But he don’t care, kids here kids there kids everywhere, animalistic breeding is in season
He thinks he’s on TOP, he ain’t gonna ever stop…and think to think he has no reason

Look at him, he’s the man, he got it goin on, he’s that guy with all those women runnin after him…
Givin no real value to the lives he’s bringing in…this world…and he really thinks he livin’

She is content when she gets her ends from the men
The different baby daddies that fathered her different children and
even though she’s left building up the kids’ home all alone
She picks up that phone no matter where the men roam, for the money for the school clothes…for the Air Jordans…for the Nike Foams


Her kids get to floss, she thinks she’s a boss…not giving a damn about the costs of a family spent from being bought
The men are forgiven for the wrongs done on her kids…and as long as she’s spendin’ with the little they givin’…she livin’

He sees his momma struggle and fight to keep the ship tight
but he thinks she’s supposed to do it, ain’t nothin to it, she’ll be alright
She just has herself cuz she don’t need no help
When WIC is their health and food stamps are their wealth

When the tumbleweed’s seed grows a tumbleweed tree
The cycle continues, what a sight it is to see
Oh the plight it is to be the seed falling down beneath
You can’t help but ask yourself…are you livin’ when you breathe?

17 Honest Thoughts of a Black Woman after Watching that Walter Scott Video

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(Inspired by Darnell Moore’s 17 Honest Thoughts of a Black Man after Watching that Walter Scott Video)

1.   I am extremely thankful for this video, because had this not been recorded, who knows if the truth (the fact that Walter Scott was another fallen soldier in the war on black men) would have had half a chance of being heard.

2.   I also regret that this video has surfaced, because it’s another grim reminder of my reality – more times than not, it seems that a penny with a whole in it may even be worth more than my brown skin. Our brown skin.

3.   The video makes me a little uneasy, because they contain the last few seconds of Mr. Scott’s life. He didn’t leave his house that day knowing a police officer was going to gun him down from behind and try to frame him for his own murder (the cop alleged he fired shots at Scott because he took his Taser, while the video actually shows the officer planting an object next to his dead body…presumably, the Taser). He didn’t say ‘hey, if I’m gunned down like an animal today over a traffic stop while running away from the officer, please share/ do not share the video of my brutal death.’ We don’t know if Scott would have wanted his last breaths posted all over the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. And we’ll never know.

4.   Should I be thinking more about number 3? Do I need to ask my father, nephew, significant other, cousins and friends about it? The question would be something like “In the chance that a police officer decides to treat your black body as a target on the gun range, do you want the video evidence to go viral?” Should this very question be incorporated into every black man’s will and testament?

5.   As a woman, I feel the sudden urge to hug and embrace every single black man I know. Because I want them to know that I love them. And that there is no one else like them on this planet.

6.   His family. I’m thinking about his family. His mother, his father, his brother, his 4 children and more. No verdict or civil suit or amount of money will right this wrong or bring back this man. This is a hurt and a loss beyond my comprehension. I will be praying for them before I go to sleep tonight.

7.   And am also thinking about my own family. My parents get profiled by the police a lot and it scares me. I asked a panel of police officers at a police/ community event if my parents should ditch their foreign cars to avoid being stopped. The officers looked at me like I was crazy – but what’s crazy is that this has to be a legit concern of mine.

8.   What scares me more is thinking about the possibility of something like what happened to Walter Scott happening to one of my loved ones.

9.   But what scares me the most is what I’m capable of doing in retaliation, if such an injustice was put upon a loved one of mine.

10.   I am amazed at the comfort level of the officer that killed Scott. From when he shot him, to when he planted the “object” next to his lifeless body, to when his back up came and saw what had happened, to when he checked his pulse and realized Scott was dead – this guy looks as cool as a cucumber. If that’s not evil, I don’t know what is.

11.   I have a nephew and he’s growing up by the day. He’s one of the smartest boys I know. How should his parents explain this incident (and the plethora of known incidents of ‘death of the black male by open season’) to him so that he is cautious, yet empowered? Enlightened but not defeated? Alert but not afraid? How can a child be a child and feel safe, survive and thrive in a world where people he doesn’t even know and haven’t even met have labeled him a threat to them?

12.   I’m sitting here wondering, as a black woman, how can I be more supportive of black men? You are an endangered species and I’m one of your biggest admirers. Tell me how to be a better advocate. Let’s lean on each other and be there for one another.

13.   Those eight gunshots. That drop to the ground. That agonizing pain. Is Scott’s murderer ever going to feel this pain or anything comparable? Is prison or even the death penalty enough punishment for him and other murderous cops?

14.   I have to then remind myself that number 13 isn’t up to me or anyone else at the end of the day. God don’t like ugly and He will handle it the best way He sees fit.

15.   I hope and pray this is being brought up in classrooms, workplaces and dinner tables across the nation and across the world — especially in South Carolina. Everyone – no matter who you are or where you stand in this case, deserves a chance to vent and process this tragedy. Its therapeutic, it’s healthy and it’s needed.

16.   I wonder how this era – the exposure of the war on black men – will be recounted in schools, in textbooks and in other ways, if it’s even remembered at all. Only time will tell.

17.   I wonder how many more days until time stands still again, when we hear about another Walter Scott.

For the Ladies: “Her Brown Body”

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 by Kiara Lee
Her brown body – rich in history and in melanin, endowed with girth
Surrounded by infatuation and contemplation, yet still, devoid of worth
Fingers point at her in the streets, eyes stare at her with thoughts under sheets,
A soul so tender, a soul so sweet, reduced to nothing…nothing more than a piece of meat.
Her Brown Body
But she likes it, it’s the only attention she really gets and attention is really her only wish
All eyes are on her, this — this is only as good as it’s ever gonna get
She does everything under the sun thinking, she’s thinking that she’ll find the one and she’s
Devaluing herself and her plan is to sell her body and her soul to a man
Her Brown Body
Society teaches her everything she should know
How to treat him like a king, how to let him treat her like a hoe
Her brown body accepts it because…her brown body feels neglected
If she’s not treated this way, because somewhere along the line, she forgot what respect is…
 Her Brown Body
Oh how dignified she should be and how tall she should stand
Because back in the day, her brown body was an exhibit, just look at Sarah Baartman
A South African slave, her body parts were put on display, European men made her dance butt naked ball and chain and in a cage
The twerking and the clapping of today ain’t nothin’ new they say…it was FORCED on her brown body back in those days…
 Well today, her brown body is just the same
Playing HERSELF cheap this time, all pain, no gain
A queen caged and ashamed, too afraid to let her true royalty reign
Exploited and displayed, a new age slave chained to an age old game
Her Brown Body
Her Brown Body — all hurt and no worth
A list of insecurities as long as her weave, her love for self as short as her skirt
Beautiful brown skin and a beautiful spirit within — things to adore
or things to deplore, an all-out war, where only a MAN can even out the score.