The Heaviest Burden

For the nights when our love don’t love us back.

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The heaviest burden

The most urgent concern

Is when tears burn your face from the words of others because 

The worst sounds come from sobs in pillows smothered with covers undercover

Doused in brokenheartedness 

The hurt that our mothers vowed to protect us from

The heaviest burden

When you feel like a burden

unwanted and unappreciated 

Don’t you hate it?

When somebody rather drag you out like last night’s trash just because 

You and your crown are too heavy to lift?

But don’t you hate it even more when

You put your own self in that trash bin?

The heaviest burden

When you feel sorry for yourself and 

You start to tear yourself down just like everyone else did 

As if they really needed help with it

You take in the words and you start to believe 

The alibis and the lies 

Against your spirit 

You can see you falling out of love with yourself so loud and so clear you can hear it

A car crash, a tree fall, a falling apart

Damn, it wasn’t like that from the start

Damn, has an artist ever been more dismissive of her own work

Of her own art?

The shit is taught. And she listened.

The heaviest burden

The rising from the fire

The guilt of a liar that

Only lies to herself 

She needs some help she

Needs some medical attention 

Did I mention that wounds cut the deepest 

From self inflicted

Injury?

Well tell me where to start because

The heaviest burden is me

Somebody tell me where to start because 

The burden is too heavy 

Little Black Girl Armed

me microscope
Me, circa 1997

You

Can see the spark in her eyes when

She raises her hand and

When she writes her thoughts out

Or when she opens up a book

Meanwhile the others look

Down on her, the others think less

Of her because they’re shook

By this little Black girl armed

with a mind and a book

They

Don’t know what to do and

They don’t know what to say so

They cover their papers as she looks

The other way on test day because

they wanna say

She is copying their test knowing

Damn well she isn’t

Knowing damn well she knows

The answers

Knowing damn well the answer is

To never question the intellect of the

Precocious little kid

Because she is Black

While fighting what their parents taught them

About who is who and

What their parents taught them

About colors

She

Has it hard in high school

And so do her body, mind and spirit too

Too good for JV, too dark for AP and

Too “white” for the step team, so it seems

She

Doesn’t really know what all this means

Until she met this boy on her way to the bus

He approached her and he read in between the lines that

She was focused on something different

So he said “Listen.

If you keep your nose in them books like that you ain’t ever gonna get no man.”

Words meant to change her course and her plan did no such thing

She walked away and he was shook

By this little Black girl armed

With a mind and a book

She

Grew up and saw the spark

In another young girl’s eye and

She shed a tear and held in a cry because

It took her back to a time when

Being a little Black girl armed

With a mind and a book was

Revolutionary

Then she looked the girl in the eye again and it was a little scary because she

Realized the revolution is far from over for

This little precocious kid

Because she is Black

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.”

Black Girl Lost

 

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I look at the pictures

I see

afro puff pigtails: her innocence, her take-over-the-world attitude

tucked in some overall denim blues and Reebok classic shoes

a little black girl in her own little black girl world

she is confident

she is fearless

she is loved

but time has passed and so has she

rest In peace little black girl

rest eternally

I look at the woman before me

I see

her weary big brown eyes with lines

aged with disappointment and distrust

her too tight dress because tight isn’t tight enough

her half smile, her crooked mask

so crooked, it’s falling

she’s falling

fast

she is vulnerable

she is doubtful

but she is still loved

the mirror uncovers the lies

she tries and she tries

to cover up

but her dress is too small and her mask

too big

unveiling for all to see

the things she wish she could’ve hid

she longs for her

the little girl

the little kid

and her Afro puff pigtail attitude

as her mind suffocates from her grown lady wig

oh how we play pretend

when the grown woman wants to be a little girl again

this grown woman, playing with real life and make-up and men

can’t wait to grow up and be a kid

again

Help a Sista Help a Sista

“Unfortunately, history has shown us that [sisterhood] must be learned, when it should be natural.” — Josephine Baker

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Jendayi Johnson

 

Today, my mom and I ran into a man at the mall. In conversation, he brought  up his daughter. His face lit up when he spoke of her.

My face lit up when his face lit up. I was loving this father’s love.

“She just finished up at University of Virginia and now she’s headed to New York for graduate school.” Jendayi Johnson, his daughter, is headed to Columbia in the fall to study speech-language pathology. Her studies have been inspired by her grandmother, who suffered a stroke and lost most of her speaking ability.

While the doctor was claiming defeat, alleging that Jendayi’s grandmother may never speak again, the speech pathologist was working to prove otherwise. After months of working with the speech pathologist, Jendayi’s grandmother was speaking whole sentences.

How sweet a feeling it is when we prove doubt and defeat wrong.

Unfortunately, Jendayi herself has dealt with a great deal of doubt from others and even from herself. “When I was accepted into college, I was told that I only got in because I was Black,” she explained on her Just Jobs scholarship page. She went on to talk about overheard conversations demeaning Black students and minimizing the validity of their accomplishments. After internalizing all of this, she, like many students, developed Impostor Syndrome, or an inability to accept personal success and achievement. People who experience Impostor Syndrome often fear that they should not be where they are in life and aren’t as capable as their peers.

It’s easy to feel like an impostor as a black woman in higher education. In many spaces of higher education, we are limited or even non-existent. Nonetheless, our presence in these spaces is needed and well overdue. Many black women miss opportunities for higher education, not because we are incapable, but rather, because we are unsupported.

Sisterhood.

Its when I reached out to a UVA student via Facebook when I first got accepted into my master’s program and she took time out her busy schedule to talk to me before I even got there, came over and gave me a 3 hour pep talk the night I moved to Charlottesville and afterwards, became a lifelong friend and role model.

Its when a dean at my undergraduate alma mater, University of Richmond, supported me when I was threatened and had property vandalized for the words I wrote in the school newspaper, from the moment it happened to the police hearing, which she attended with me. She continued to support me well after it was all said and done.

Its when a retired philanthropist decided to sow seeds through me and pay for me to travel in order to work with marginalized girls throughout Virginia and beyond before ever meeting me in person.

There were way more than three black women who helped pave the way for me. Now, its Jendayi’s turn. She needs way more than that to help support her vision as well.

“Receiving my degree will allow me to prove everyone that thought that I didn’t have the ability to succeed wrong. More importantly, it would be the first step of many towards achieving my goal of fortifying my clients’ abilities to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and desires and continuing on the trajectory that other Black scholars that came before me created,” Jendayi asserted.

Black people are crabs in a barrel.

Black women never support each other.

Our community is tainted by these false stereotypes.

Jendayi wants to prove the naysayers wrong by helping others do the same.

My momma and I told her daddy that he ran into the right people today. Help me follow through.

Help a sista help a sista and vote for this young queen to win a scholarship so she can go on to Columbia and really show out and show and prove.

Because sisterhood should be natural.

(Its extremely easy to vote. From what I was told, clicking the heart above the comments section counts as a vote. Also, leaving comments on the page and sharing her page on Facebook also helps to convince the judges. You have until Friday, 7/ 15/2016 to vote.)

Sister Girl

sister girl

sister girl

she and I

talked, laughed, cried and I

swore a thousand times that she was my

friend

sister girl

her talk

it was deep

and it was cheap

faced with 2, 3 faces

which was hers

sister girl

her jealous eyes

her critical lips

her hips resented my hips’ width

she exchanged her gifts for an infatuation with mine

sister girl

she hates me

but still I love

I love

her jealous eyes

her critical lips

her resentment

they tell me I’m doin’ good

Too

Damn

Good

Gotta Love the Copycats

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“Don’t set sail using someone else’s star” – African Proverb

Nobody likes a copycat. You do something…and then they do it. You do something else…and wait for it…they go and do that something else as well. It can be like a shadow almost. A dark shadow that intends to steal your shine, and possibly, your identity.

And all at the same time we hear things like ‘imitation is the highest form of flattery,’ ‘haters secretly admire you from afar,’ ‘if you don’t have haters (or beat biters – the slang phrase I grew up with for copycats), you’re doing something wrong. All of these things may very well be true, but yet and still, there is absolutely NOTHING okay about copycat-ism. At all.

Yet, as much as everyone (including myself) despises them, I still got love for ‘em…because they don’t have love for themselves.

To the copycats – the unoriginals, the tryna-bes – I have just a few words for you:

  1. You don’t like yourself or your ideas enough – and it’s a horrible thing. Yeah, I said it. To you, what you have to offer simply isn’t good enough, compared to what others have. You wait and you wait until something or someone comes up – something or someone that you would rather be than yourself, and try your hardest to emulate it. That’s a problem, but it can definitely be fixed. Love YOURSELF and who you are and what you contribute to this earth. Fix your face to like what you see in the mirror and to like who you are deep inside – your opinions, your talents, your brain and your heart. It was never intended for us all to be the same…so why are you working so hard against nature?
  2. We can all see through what isn’t yours. No matter how sleuth you think you are at stealing ideas and identities – 9 times out of 10, you are fooling yourself. Authenticity doesn’t take nearly as much effort as does the tomfoolery of being a copycat. It shines on its own. And more than likely, you’ve got quite a few folks laughing at you behind your back about how foolish you look hating yourself, while in the meantime dope is selling itself.
  3. No matter how hard you try, you will never be someone else. A friend of yours starts an organization and on the sly, you find out everything about it so you can do the exact same thing. That girl you went to high school with is always wearing midriff shirts and you decide to go buy a whole bunch of them because she wears them. But the organization you tried to start doesn’t compare to the one you tried to copy, because you just aren’t passionate about it quite like the friend with the original idea. And you looked a hot mess in those shirts because deep down, they weren’t your style to begin with. Stop trying to force yourself into someone else’s lane and use that energy to make your own lane. This way, you never have to worry about failing because your only competition is yourself.

I’ve had many experience with copycats, as I’m sure you may have. I’ve been fed the ‘if you don’t have haters, you’re doing something wrong’ lines time and time again. Such realizations are true, but at the end of the day, they don’t make me feel better.

To the copycats – the sooner you feel better about yourselves, the sooner we’ll all feel better.