I know it’s not Weds but
The moon has come,
The sun has gone
The waves are fleeing forward
And we’re still dancing as they crash
There are no threats to those who’ve been where we have
Leave us here
We are home in the moment
Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin. Born in 1939 in Montgomery, Alabama. On March 2, 1955, she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama, nine months prior to Rosa Parks. She became the first person to be arrested for rebelling against bus segregation in the city after refusing to give up her seat to a white person in 1955. At the time, Colvin was just 15 years old.
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was an act of white supremacist terrorism which occurred at the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963, when four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device eneath the front steps of the church.
Described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity”, the explosion at the church killed four girls and injured 22 others.
This is something I don’t really talk about. While chosen people in my life (friends, therapists) know, this will be the first time I am speaking out about my “mental illness” – another reason I have been hesitant to bringing it public, because the “illness” part in the term doesn’t really resonate with me. We all know that there is such stigma attached to the name and it is a taboo topic in general. A part of me is sharing this to open the door to the conversation just a little more, and perhaps a part of me is wanting to let it all out. “Personal protection” doesn’t matter to me so much anymore. You could call me crazy or whatever else – and maybe I am, but if I am it’s not because of this topic, but because of the things in life most all of us experience.
For as far back as I can remember I have dealt with heavy, chronic depression. Even through most of the joyous times when I laughed, danced and smiled the biggest smiles, basked in hope and faith for my future, it was right there above me, like a faint cloud that just couldn’t find it’s place elsewhere. It’s always lingered, it’s never been far enough way to find somewhere else to be. It’s been that ass I cannot kick, that battle I keep coming back to. That bully that just won’t go away. And It’s appeared to be one of those things that has to be accepted because it just won’t fucking go anywhere else. I can proudly say though it still plays it’s role in my life, it’s become more manageable, and I still have not accepted it’s something I will have to always live with. At least not with it feeling like it does at the moment.
It was there as a child. I was sad and angry often. Not the sad and angry kids go through because they’re developing emotionally, but an anguishing sadness and powerful anger that adolescents haven’t lived long enough to experience. I got into a lot of fights I provoked, taking my anger out on people who hadn’t done anything worth me doing so. I cried a lot in solitude and later on I even ended up trading my strength for co-dependent relationships. I did not want to carry the burden alone.
You would have never known it. I was adored by countless. They said I was such an energetic, happy girl with a promising future. The smile and laugh that made their days brighter was too distracting for them to see inside the heavy pain that had taken over my old soul inside. I lived a double life, though. That’s for sure.
It wouldn’t have made a difference if they knew the severity of my depression at that age anyway. There wasn’t much anyone could do. I still had to go home to the same empty home with the same miserable, depressed mother who struck down any optimism that there was anything worth living for in this world. I am no expert, but if I had to guess, I’d say my emotional issues were developed through my upbringing.
I fought because I didn’t know a clear love. She loved me deeply but didn’t know how to show it the way a parent should. I never felt safe. I was lonely because she was and it made it seem that there was no other way to be. No way to combat any of the negatives with positives. I know she wanted nothing more than the best for me, but she was not in the place to know how to provide that for me, even on a mental level. For so long I’ve understood this, but understanding this didn’t allow me to my right and freedom to be angry at her. At what I went through.
I grew so frustrated and angry that by my early teens I was out of control. I got in so much trouble. Suspensions, arrests, countless altercations nearly every day. There was the sweet girl in me who loved and wanted to be loved who made friends who didn’t have issues that were anymore than the average a teenager does, and then there was the out of control and regretfully reckless girl who made friends who were much like me. That was a recipe for disaster. And I reaped the consequences in devastating ways. It was a double life. I knew what was attainable and what it was like to be valued, and I also knew what it was like to live an unorthodox lifestyle. And then there was home. Between the non existence amount of guidance at home and the unorthodox lifestyle, the negative won. And I was so depressed through it all.
I was misunderstood. A concrete angel falling in between the cracks in society for someone like me. A Princess in distress that was much bigger and more generational than anything even me with my wise soul at such a young age could have ever understood.
There were bright and hopeful times that were always drowned out by dark & twisted times. It was an unhealthy reality for me. I could never keep anything in place with the dysfunction. I was always rearranging the wreckage of my life, trying to keep everything standing still. Time from moving. Friends from leaving. Me from growing. My arms weren’t wide enough. My concentration wasn’t focused enough. Every little lifetime was built with everything would inevitably fall.
And every time I lost something or someone, it hurt in an unbearable way. That’s what happens when you are well neglected from early on in childhood. Everything you lose feels like the end of the world.
I have suffered from depression, etc. my entire life. It is not what it used to be, but I don’t know if I’d call it easier. Maturity has helped me with rationalization; it still has an impact on my life for sure. However, I don’t know if I could write this if I wasn’t get better. The future never stopped being promising, I think the faint cloud disappeared but there is the threat in its absence. I am learning to love myself for reasons more than others loving and me, that wasn’t love. You can’t live through others feelings about you, especially because only you know you.
I am moving, but it took a long time. It took me a good amount of extra time to slow down and sort things out. I am often regretful about that, but this wasn’t in my plan. It’s the plan of God and the Universe. If they wanted me to figure things out sooner, I would have.
I am better, but I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t still difficult.
If anything I’ve written here you can identify with. I want you to know things will be okay. Hold tight to that. Express yourself, give yourself some compassion and room for hope and growth. No matter where you are, it’s never too late. The pain is a got damn bitch and sometimes we just can’t get it to subside, but if you hold on, even when we don’t want to, there will be better days. Live for better days until better days accumulate and prove to you much more you need to be okay with going on. I’m here if you need me. I am hurting, too, but we need each other most.
So I should probably be doing HW, but I came across this video of a beautiful eighth grader at Southwest Baltimore Charter School named Janiyah who confesses her insecurities about being a dark-skinned black girl in a society that high lights light skinned women as being more worthy and desirable.
I couldn’t ignore this, because interestingly enough I have been thinking A LOT about colorism in the black community, especially when it comes to young girls and women in the more formative years of their lives. For the longest time I didn’t see it as an issue, because I have always been so enamored by dark skin, I never gave any attention to the deep rooted colorism in the black community. I mean this stems back to slavery when white slave owners decided between who worked in the house or in the field based on the complexion of the “workers” skin. There is a portion of black community that continues to perpetuate this – and for that we are still mentally enslaved. Some are still weak.
Hearing Janiyah speak today, reminded me of years ago when I saw this precious little black girl crying as she tried to explain why her white Barbie doll was more beautiful than her Black one. I’m sure she’s in her preteens now, but her pain planted a seed within me. Long before seeing that and after I have wanted to build a group/organization that empowers, and celebrates and centers black girls, their incredible worth and superb magic. With time and “womanhood”, I have learned that I must incorporate their right to be vulnerable. They will inevitably hold the responsibility of carrying the heavy burdens on our community as we have had to for hundreds of years, just like clock work. And I don’t want the “strong black woman” identity to deny them their right to the human experience, outside of what it means to be a “strong black woman”.
It’s interesting that I came across this link today, because it evoked and provoked my desire and dedication to black girls all the more. I was just asking Shelley Seacrest, a black woman running for city council (check her out – she’s really great) about how to go about this, and she was telling me to her knowledge no one has done this and that black girls don’t have the same opportunities or focus as young black boys. I haven’t even completed the final touches on my project centered around creating visibility for trans youth, I’ve got a shit ton of responsibilities and things I am working on within my own life and I’m already ready to dive into to creating something from a passion that’s been brewing within me for as far back as I can recall. I keep trying to slow down, but stuff keeps calling me.
Lately every time I envision this group I hope to start, first small, I have pictured darker skinned black girls. You’re not supposed to discriminate within your own community, of course, but they have been highlighted and centered in my mind. It kind of tripped me out, aligning the video of Janiyah with what’s been on my mind otherwise.
I could go on and on and on and on and so on, but I wanted to share it. This video has really touched me. Even more so the support and love shown by her peers (other young woman of color, a variety of shades). Hoping this adds to the spreading of awareness of colorism and the need to neutralize the painful effects history has had on the black culture.
Can you let me let go
If it’s yes, then show me so
I’ll forget everything I know,
Start all over again,
Just let me let go so I can begin.
Can you let me be the me I know I am now,
I’ll figure it out,
I’ll write my life over,
Hand me the pen &
Just tell me how far,
So I can head for the win.
I’m gonna let go now,
Armor will shatter,
And the pen will splatter.
It’s all good, I promise.
This is for the latter.
Just let me let go.
Forget everything I know.
I found out I’m forgiven.
I have all I need,
And lost all I didn’t.
I have my faith,
And just enough wisdom.
Just let me go.
I’m going to find me.
Forget everything I know.
It’s going to be so beautiful.
And for once it’s all for me.
I forgot everything I know,
And this is what it’s supposed to be.