To be transparent, these last four weeks have unintentionally flown by and have been filled with great pain, sorrow, depression, loss, and grief to be honest. I can feel my own spirit at the beginning of a long healing process and have a feeling that these words kept between you and I will be a tremendous part of my healing. Healing in itself is an essential aspect of Womanism and how I found my way to it. I have been privileged to develop spiritual practices that encourage and assist with healing in emotional, physical, mental, and wisdom ways!
Today, I acknowledge the Africana Womanism (Clenora Hudson-Weems) characteristic of strength. I must admit I have a strained relationship with the word as a Black woman. I was raised by strong women to be strong in an environment in which we will always have to strong. As a result, being soft is interpreted as weak. I mourn that Black women rarely find spaces in which they can turn off their survival mode- fight or flight nervous system responses and relax while being soft. It is so foreign. At this point in my life softness is so inconvenient and also something that I don’t even know how to maintain consistently.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the strength displayed through my mother and aunts and grandmothers. I thank God for the strength that they passed on to me because I would not be able to forge my own path in this world without it. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a high cost for being strong all the time. I am exhausted, I am empty, I am deficient, I am overwhelmed, and overstimulated. I am tired of fighting, I am tired of building, supporting, and nurturing. I am tired of displays of strength that enable me to survive in this body and social location of mine. WOE is it. What a double-edged sword in every way including how we treat ourselves and allow ourselves to be treated to how we raise our children with strength as a guiding principle. Our children MUST be strong. Strength is a blessing but it’s also an invisible thief that steals the soul from Black women. We don’t get to enjoy the full range of privileges imbued to us by the divine feminine. We have a masculine energy thrusted upon us and we embrace it because it helps us to survive. (I am not speaking of biology or gender roles but feminine and masculine spiritual energies.)
Strength can keep you from falling apart externally. I was raised to never let them see me down or cry. Strength can help me pick up the pieces of my life after tragedy, conflict, and loss, however, strength does not protect me from pain. In fact, it can cause more pain by having to conceal it constantly. When we are strong all the time, we limit ourselves and are seen as “strong enough” to take pain. Thus, there is less support, less interest, less resources to help you through your pain and circumstances. Strength comes from survival and is infused in everything that Black people do. It is a unique and tragic essence of Blackness in this country. W.E.B Dubois believed that this this unique and tragic essence of Blackness was a result of the heavy burden of a ‘double consciousness’ or what we might call today as code switching.
Obviously I’m talking about strength in a non-physical way. Strength is such a multi-dimensional way.
I am dwelling in this season with a heavy heart both grateful for the strength I have access to while simultaneously resenting the fact that I have to strong in the face of adversity.
Below is a poem written to all the women of the earth, from the beginning of time until now. Of course, I love being a woman, a Black woman especially, but I MUST express my genuine displeasure with the ways in which we must exist in this patriarchal society imbued with white supremacy. I hope to adapt this into an alive work of art so let me know if you have any suggestions for collaborations!
A poem that represents the cry from the depths of my soul. Obviously I love being a woman, but there are moments when I must lament what women must face. As I wrote this I had that feeling that I was writing on behalf of scores of women including my ancestors. Especially in the wake of policies passed to prevent safe and accessible abortions in Texas, this piece is pertinent.
I pray to God that my daughter will not have to embrace strength as a necessity throughout her life but can enjoy moments of softness, relaxation, and goodness like those before her have never known.
Woe is it to be a Woman
The womb knows no privacy
On display for the world to see
My worth determined by my womb’s performance
But it’s function
Like Hagar decisions are made concerning the sacred space in my core
This sacred space is not honored for what it is capable of
We are feared
There is so much more to me than my smile
Do you even care to know who I am
and the unique particularities of the universe that has manifested as me
Or are you still looking at my chest
My eyes that hide
The fact I’ve been conditioned to make you comfortable even in my own discomfort
Ignorant of your ignorance
How does a mermaid dwell in the shallow waters of another’s soul
I live for the depth
I grow in deep waters
I am nourished in the dark ocean of life
I want you to know there is so much more of me to love
So much more woman
So much more to ME
Than what you see with your eyes or even touch with your hands
I am land
Regardless of the decision there is pain
Pain of prevention
Pain of menstruation
Pain of pregnancy
Pain of postpartum
Pain of termination
Fear of judgement
This world will never know and never hear the collective pain and cry of women. FOR WOE IS IT TO BE ONE.
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 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 parenting 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!