During this time of global pandemic, my Sister n’ Love hosted a zoom meeting to check on the mental health of all the black women in her friends and family circle. The people on the conference call ranged from a doctor; to a geneticist; to a CEO; to an attorney; and most were mothers and wives.; Everyone talked about all they were doing to hold their family down and still manage their professions during this unprecedented time of nationwide panic. All I kept thinking through the call was: Black women are goals!
Every now and then a discussion starts on social media about how black women are goals who always set the trends for hair, fashion, body shapes, and etc. And while I agree that is all true, black women are goals to me because every day we hold it down in the face of adversity and unspeakable obstacles. However, we still get it all done in grace and style.
I recently attended a conference called, The Paradigm Shift, which focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS on African American women and their families. The conference was magnificent, showcasing phenomenal speakers, such as Angela Davis and Stacey Abrams, although the most dynamic speaker of the conference, for me, was Dr. Cheryl T. Grills. Dr. Grills, Ph.D. She is a Clinical Psychologist and professor at Loyola Marymount University. Her work includes African-centered models of treatment engagement with African-Americans. During her session, she presented a few breakout activities for the audience. One of the activities was aimed at unpacking a concept called “De-Blackening.” The “De-Blackening Diversity Toss” activity helped to illustrate how we as Black people, give away parts of ourselves and how parts of ourselves are taken away every day, and the stress this “De-Blackening” causes. She conducted a “Sawubona” exercise, which involved us “seeing” each other in a profound sense. We held hands with strangers and stared into each other’s eyes as Dr. Grills recited empowering lines of acceptance, value, and importance. We all ended up crying together as women. Even though we were professionals at work attending a conference, in that moment, we realized each of us were carrying deep burdens we never get to release. I saw myself in the eyes of each of those women, and felt completely naked knowing they saw themselves in my eyes, as well. The exercise transformed me. Now, when I interact with black women, I really try to “see” them.
I think, at times, we get so busy keeping things moving and making sure everyone else is happy that we forget to take time and acknowledge all that we do. We forget about our own needs and the things we want for ourselves. We don’t take time to truly assess our own happiness. So, I wrote all this just to say: I “see” you.
I see you, black mom, ensuring your children have everything they need and more.
I see you, black woman entrepreneur, fighting against discrimination, while providing a service to your community.
I see you, black woman teacher, going above and beyond to ensure that our children are prepared, seen, and heard.
I see you, black woman wife/partner, ensuring that your partner has what they need to grow as a person.
I see you, black women professionals, leading your co-workers and staff; coming up with all the ideas, while also fighting for the respect you deserve.
I see you, little black girl, trying to understand how to hold on to everything that makes you unique; from your hair to your beautiful black skin. Don’t worry about this world’s validation; you don’t need it. You are everything and more.
Remember, black women are goals.
Sloane Bickerstaff is a wifey, mom, sexual health communicator and sex positive enthusiast with a passion for comedy, film, and twerking.