I’m Black and alive, and that is half the battle at this time. Critically. I wakened. No cops shot me in my sleep or on the road. I did not get charged with a criminal offense I did not commit. A white particular person did not inform me I did not dwell in my home and name the cops. I did not have a coronary heart assault or stroke from hypertension, which runs on either side of my household. I did not die from a well being care system that fails Black ladies. I have not gotten COVID-19 (regardless of the myths folks unfold about protestors getting the virus), which we all know is killing Black folks at excessive charges. And although he tries each day in each option to make the lives of Black folks inconceivable, the racist, vile president hasn’t killed me.
However that is simply at this time. Tomorrow is one other story.
Naomi Osaka is aware of this, too. That is why she made it a degree to indicate as much as the U.S. Open together with her stunning pure Black hair and with the wit and knowledge of her unimaginable unapologetic Blackness. Naomi, simply 22 years outdated, selected to take a threat on the world’s stage to protest the egregious murders of Black folks and present up with seven masks for every of her matches with the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijiah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice — with help from their households.
As a result of she is a Black lady, belief me, her profession very effectively may have been on the road for talking the reality: that as Black folks, we are actually struggling to remain alive, hour by hour, every day at a time.
And he or she received. She received the sport on the courtroom, and he or she received within the recreation of life. Naomi Osaka is proof of what can occur if you present up as an unapologetic and genuine Black lady — and take an enormous threat alongside the best way. And if the masks weren’t daring sufficient, in her post-game interview when requested what was the message she sought to convey, she very, very unapologetically requested, “What was the message you bought?” My soul cheered upon listening to her reply so immediately and emphatically. And within the time after her match, she exclaimed that her ancestors had been together with her and that she wouldn’t simply shut up and be an athlete, as a result of being vocal is the rationale she received.
Naomi’s presence challenges us all to be higher.
How will you not take heed to her? Unapologetic Black ladies are right here to remain by way of all of the aggressions and makes an attempt to marginalize and silence us, whether or not you prefer it or not, make house for us or not, And we’re profitable whether or not you want that or not, too.
It appears Naomi can be on a journey to true freedom. That made me really feel that I’m not alone proper now. I made a alternative not too long ago, amid the nationwide dialog on and protests for racial justice on this nation, that I am right here to be in your face with all of my Black womanness. I’ve not too long ago felt a merging of my identities, professionally and personally, that solely my ancestors may have made doable. I’m selecting to indicate up each at work and in private areas in a really unapologetic means, and I’ve determined that it’s not nearly me, however it’s about all Black ladies taking again their energy.
I do know that each time I present up authentically I’m taking a threat, and I’ve determined that I DO NOT CARE. I’m on Zoom each day with my dope pure Black hair and my dope Black T-shirts. However largely, I’m right here to remind you concerning the energy of Black ladies and that we’re flattening partitions and constructing new areas, the place we’re really ourselves and we’re right here to normalize our brilliance, our greatness and our magnificence in each kind that will take. It’s time to be carefree with our Blackness as a result of nobody cares for us.
I’m certain there are individuals who equate authenticity with “lower than” or “classless.” I do not find out about you, however I select to not subscribe to whiteness as my commonplace or to the respectability politics of different Black ladies who may be unimaginable however are accustomed to conforming to what makes white folks comfy, thereby oppressing themselves. I do not truly care what people suppose and that has taken me years and a deep, supportive community of Black sisterhood and a few Black males like my husband to maintain me pushing.
And if I’m being completely trustworthy and actual…It. Is. Not. Simple.
I not too long ago despatched a word to colleagues concerning the “Black lady tax” we’re charged, like being requested to scrub up issues at work together with issues that aren’t immediately my job. I’m typically requested to seem on panel with the opposite “ladies of coloration” or to be the voice for all Black ladies in conditions the place males of coloration and white women and men really feel uncomfortable or want some avenue credibility to carry out inclusiveness. My selections are generally questioned or in comparison with these of white counterparts in the identical area and sometimes persons are baffled by my Blackness and the way I can present up authentically in these areas. The reply: I’ve determined that I do not care about the specter of potential penalties that doubtless should not be imposed anyway. However I do know that each time I make such a call it carries with it the likelihood that I may, by way of no fault of my very own, see a door to new alternatives shut.
As a proud Howard alum, I’ve been pondering lots recently concerning the classes that Chadwick Boseman left with us, particularly concerning the significance of discovering your objective and by no means, ever letting go. There’s readability in objective and there may be energy in solely saying sure to the issues that transfer your spirit and your calling whereas saying a fierce no to the issues that do not. That no takes braveness and a hell of numerous threat. As Black ladies, each time we push a boundary or say no, we’re completely risking all of it as a result of America just isn’t constructed to respect that no, going all the best way again to the unfair, racist and gendered tropes of Black ladies being made to scrub up the messes of white people.
Typically we do not have a alternative as a result of we now have payments to pay, mouths to feed, a roof over our heads to take care of, and all the opposite very actual causes. However as a result of Black ladies are usually not even allowed that alternative because of societal circumstances and oppression out of our management, that in itself is a part of the issue. I’m lucky to have a supportive boss who lets me lead and offers me the house and honors my voice to assist everybody respect Black ladies’s dignity. That has not all the time been the case in different skilled settings. I do know that’s not each state of affairs. I’m saying that it ought to be.
I’m decided to create space for us by being my genuine and unapologetic self. I’m saying that others have to normalize that and the burden shouldn’t be on us to be accepted or conform to white norms.
On this time of nationwide reckoning with systemic racism, I’ve additionally had a self-reckoning: I’ve made the choice that my objective is to push each boundary you lay in entrance of me in order that you haven’t any alternative however to acknowledge and respect my Blackness and my identification as a Black lady. And when you do not, I’ve given myself permission to go away that house. I’m right here to make you reckon together with your whiteness, your privilege and your energy.
I’m by myself journey proper now, wherever that takes me. As an activist and Black lady, I merely can not ignore this calling. And I hope that extra Black ladies will take heed to their calling, too.
And in the long run, we’ll all lay on that ground…lastly free, whether or not you prefer it or not. Similar to Naomi.