One of the 18 characteristics of Africana Womanism is being a self-definer. This piece is a sliver of my process to do and be exactly that.
I am striving to be a whole Black woman. I have an awareness that I am a whole person and transcend the role that Amerikkkan* society has given black women. Wholeness is justice and justice/liberation is wholeness. We are unaware of the full extent that racism has impacted Black women psychologically and emotionally. I’m saying racism constricts us in exhausting ways- the results have been wearing on our mental and sexual health, senses, nerves, physical health for years. And it still is.
I want my daughter to grow up to see me living whole so that she may one day live whole herself. I don’t want to force her, but I want to leave the impression that Black women are not limited to the stereotype of African American women = which is to be a mule, a mammy, a side kick, fat, angry, on welfare (although there are more white people than black on welfare in the United States), hypersexualized, loose, able to tolerate more pain than other women, etc.
All of these stereotypes originate in slavery, yet we are encouraged resentfully and sometimes scornfully to forget the history of our ancestors because it happened so long ago (which isn’t the case – Black people did not have constitutional rights – i.e. were not considered human – until the late 60’s – during my grandmothers’ lifetimes). BUT WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO FORGET, even while it is still slapping us in the face in the form of wealth gap, police brutality, infant mortality rates, and more. We are not oppressed because we remember. Memory is essential for any group of people. We MUST remember so that we can unlearn (decolonize our minds) the ways we have been negatively impacted and damaged by displacement, slave trade, genocide, rape, forced conversions, systematic dehumanization and more in slavery and colonization.
I want Lola to know she doesn’t have to submit to that stereotype. I want her to know it’s ok to be nerdy, or sporty, it’s ok to be soft and feminine, I will have to work creatively and consistently to emphasize her liberation. I want her to know she has the agency to choose anything she wants to be-just like white girls and women are able to do. In so many ways, Black women are denied the opportunity to choose these things because of inherited financial situations, and other socioeconomic factors – but also because society does not accept the alternatives, of Black women transcending the stereotype the country has been programmed to perceive us as. This impacts us everywhere. At work I’ve had supervisors consistently perceive my motivations as ‘sneaky’ or ‘unfaithful’ instead of innovative and creative. My approach was incredibly new to their old school, white ways of relating with people and building relationships. They resisted evolution at the hands of a Black woman, and I suffered greatly. They kept assuming I was being a “typical” Black woman – untrustworthy, taking advantage of the system, etc.… despite the community being receptive to my work.
That beings said, I want my daughter to know it’s ok to be happy, it’s ok to be weird – so weird you have the nerve to dye your hair whatever color you want in your teenage years if that’s what she wants. She can embody what society deems as feminine (black woman are historically depicted as and stereotyped as masculine and being able to bear more pain than other woman because when our ancestors were slaves they worked them to the bone with unbearable workloads. Work didn’t stop when women had their period, or were pregnant, or, not even, in birth! They had no option but to work as a result, Black women have had a hard time learning to rest in this country. When we do try to rest, or when we have luxury, or wealth, or own our own things, society doesn’t know how to perceive it because it doesn’t fit the stereotype. She is labeled a threat.
I don’t want her to be constricted or suffocated by how we are portrayed in the media and how sometimes Black women ourselves perpetuate our own stereotypes. Yes, it is possible to perpetuate one’s own oppression. Nevertheless, I can only protect her from this so much because these beliefs manifest in everything we see, read, and hear, plus, it’s 2021 and even school and baby showers are online (mine was). I have to work overtime to find resources that will help her SEE HERSELF as a doctor, a lawyer, a minister, a banker, a businesswoman, hippie, or scientist as much as the next girl in this country. She should SEE HESELF in the divine and the divine within herself. Baby girl, you are no less, as your daddy says.
You can be the president, you can be the priest, you can be the reverend on the pulpit – in the holiest part of church. You can do anything; you can do it ALL- you don’t even have to pick one thing you can do it all. We were taught about so many white men like Benjamin Franklin who was a scientist, an author, a poet, doctor, a politician, etc.….
You got the ‘juice’ the sauce, the Black girl magic, the black excellence, you’re that thing that no one can explain. You got soul, you got IT! You are my IT girl. You are the future, and I don’t take being your mother lightly. You are a game changer, my blue full moon in Taurus baby who was born on Halloween. Astrologically, you symbolize revolution. You are the solution to a grand master plan. You are the center; you are the main character; you are the conclusion; and you can do you.
I love you; my beautiful chocolate warrior Queen arise!
 bell hooks, Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery.
* Amerikkka is how the rapper Tupac Shakur referred to the U.S. in his music, which he associates with the Ku Klux Klan and other white Christian terrorism.
Chasity is a Louisiana native and from a conservative, Evangelical background until moving to Seattle, WA to be a community organizer (young adult missionary). It was here she began to challenge traditional mission work in the context of colonialism and began her own process of liberation (decolonization). For the last two years, as a Master of Divinity student at Boston University School of Theology, she has focused her degree on exploring various Liberation Theologies including Black Liberation, Womanist, and Decolonization Theologies.
She has recently launched Fourth Wave Revolution in an attempt to educate as well as decolonize! For the last five years, she has done this through various ways: sermons, adult Sunday schools, workshops, individual and collective consulting, yoga and mindfulness, support groups, and more! It was her hope to one day give birth to a movement that would transform the way we engage in anti-oppression and anti-racism work while maintaining and in some cases recovering ourselves. According to Decolonial theorist Albert Memmi, racism is a symptom of colonialism (The Colonizer and the Colonized, 69-70). Therefore, we must reach deeper and address as close to the root as possible to dismantle racism and white supremacy. Fourth Wave Revolution is committed to digging deeper.
As a new mother, Chasity is also thinking into conscious parting as well as how to transmit the core of feminist, womanist, and liberation theologies to children. To stay updated on upcoming events, follow our Facebook page by clicking here! She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org