What Fighting Racism is Like as a Black Woman

What Fighting Racism is Like as a Black Woman July 10, 2014

Black_WomanYour necessary air is restricted.  You take short breaths.  You wait for relief.  One day, it hurt so bad you took a viability assessment.  Will you live?

Verdict’s out.

There’s a gatdamn boot on your neck.  One day, it will come off, you reason.  You wait.  One day, you’ll take a long, deep breath.   Until then, short, quick breaths are gold.  Just survive.

It’s been so long, this boot made its home.  You’ve readjusted.  You will live, boot-in-neck.  You will live.  Boot-in-neck living is your new normal, rather, your only normal.  You take the quick, fear-laced breaths because you have to.

You grab the boot.  You dig your finger nails in, you dig elbows into the ground, aided by leverage, you push.  You push hard. There’s one glorious second.  A single moment exists frozen in time and you breathe.  You BREATHE! The air flows in with a gush, your lungs expand, the relief mighty. The boot responds accordingly.  It turns right then left, grinding down harder in angry fear: SHUT THE HELL UP!

You are not silenced. You’ve breathed out life made possible by grit and raw courage.

The boot pushes.  Your throat constricts uncomfortably, dreadfully into your esophagus. You have less air now than before but what was your option?

Would you lay still wasting limited breath on defeated tears? No.  You push the boot for good reason.

You need one moment in time to breathe deeply.  You grasp hold of humanity and reason.  You dig manicured nails in.  Your seemingly insignificant act of boot pushing communicates, I AM HERE dammit! Your strength in leverage articulates: WORTH! STRENGTH! There is dignity in my hands!  You push up on the boot because longer breath gives way to healing tears and even those don’t come for free.

Not for you.

You glance to your right, and to your left.  You see rows upon rows of others lying under the boot.  In sporadic bursts, elbows dig, grunts and sweat deliver pushes and heaves for a moments worth of sweet relief all around you.  Boots grind, anger stomps the life out of some, but for those among you who survive, you keep pushing, grunting, digging, fighting, dying.  Just as you’ve always done, strong black woman.

Just as you’ve always done.

You’ve mastered suffocation while you live.  The boot isn’t merely your new normal.  The only thing new was The Moment of Realization: I have a boot on my neck?!

You acknowledge reality.  You meet eye-to-eye with the one next to you, you clasp dirty-finger nails and sweaty hands and you push.

Just as you’ve always done.

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  • Can I say disgustingly beautiful? Thank you friend! As a friend who – identifies allegorically… and painfully aware it is only allegorically because I am an outcast for other reasons – what can I do? I am still a white, anglo saxon, Protestant, male for God’s sake. Whether I want it or not… I know I was born with boots on. What can I do besides repost this blog? Give you shouts on Twitter? What can I do besides tell “Christian” friends when in comfortable company not to make that joke or broad generalization?

    My soul is on fire and I want to “do” so much more. But I think I still have a lot to learn from you before I can do anything but say Amen and repent for me and any part I’ve ever played in twisting the boot.

    Much Love and Grace, Grace!

    You might be the fieriest voice on the internet!

  • Megan

    So powerful and beautifully written. I’m thankful for your voice.

  • Jillie

    What can I say, Grace, that you haven’t already said? This is a gut-level, descriptive picture of what you so often encounter in your daily life. I’d like to know what sparked this post? Is it a daily occurrence? Or did something particular happen? I hope you’ll write about it. Like the post you wrote about the assinine things people often say to you on the street when you’re with your kids. As Wayne wrote below, what can we do? We were born with white skin, but we’re not all the same. I’m doing all I can to learn about the race ‘relations’ of days gone by, pre-civil war and all, and I abhor this history. It breaks my heart, wearies my soul–man’s inhumanity to man–and I sometimes despair that anything will ever change. ‘We’ have a lot to account for before the judgement seat.
    Wayne is right…You very well may be the fiercest voice on the internet.

  • mongupp

    No boots on your neck…or anyone’s