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Month: February 2018

Black Girls Speak: The Black Panther *Spoiler Alert*

Black Girls Speak: The Black Panther *Spoiler Alert*

We saw Black Panther. No, we EXPERIENCED Black Panther! From the moment that ship passed through the invisible barrier to reveal a beautiful Black Utopia, it unleashed a flood of crazy emotions, some full of pride and others that ached for the richness of the […]

Black Girls Speak: The Common Pain We Share

Black Girls Speak: The Common Pain We Share

Have you ever just sat completely still and become fully aware of your heartbeat? The subtle pulse through your body that you wouldn’t otherwise notice unless you were paying complete attention. Have you stopped to experience the slight vibration that propels each blood vessel through […]

Black Girls Speak: The Prayers No One Prays

Black Girls Speak: The Prayers No One Prays

When my sister announced her pregnancy to me, I instantly prayed for what would never make sense to a Sunday Morning congregation.

“God, make her a girl because black boys are so vulnerable.”

I prayed you were a girl I because knew, should you be a boy, the school-to-prison pipeline favored you less. I knew US families of color brought home 6-8% of what white ones did for babies like you, and I even knew- should you be suggested for adoption- black children are sold for far less than what you, my dear, will ever be worth.
I prayed because I knew black boys grow into black men- ones who look like Philando Castile and Alton Sterling who died two months before your arrival. They looked like the men in my church and cousins who took me to school.

 

After Alton Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge and police officers were killed in Dallas, I’d tail-spun so far into grief that I took a ‘sick’ day and wept the rest of the morning.

 

How dare your mother bring you into a world that was not ready for you

I prayed you weren’t a boy because I experienced the shock of prejudice, too. It was heartbreaking enough to recall prayers for my own wellbeing.

I prayed as a teen from backseats of my friends’ cars to be hidden, as I met up with my high school boyfriend. Interracial relationships weren’t welcomed in our rural community, and his family believed he shouldn’t start one, even with an ‘Oreo’ (a term of “endearment” black kids who code switch in predominantly white spaces- we don’t find it endearing).

As an adult, I’ve prayed to blend in, as locals in other countries eyed my every move through the streets and markets (When I asked why, they pointed to my skin, and told me it was to prevent theft). And when I told trusted friends, I often lost them on spot. Some thought I was exaggerating or just looking for blame. Some gave me news clippings to deny the prejudice I faced (can you imagine being met with news clippings that denied something you’d lived your entire life?).

 

And now, sweet baby, how many seats would you hide behind to visit the one you loved? Who would follow you at the local market? Who would leave you for speaking in truth?

 

Several days before you arrived, my viewpoint changed entirely.

 

One day at work, I noticed a coffee spill on our office staircase. I walked to the kitchen and back to the spot with a towel. As I cleaned it, I remembered the days I spent with your great-grandmother, cleaning houses (sometimes for people her age or younger than she was). I began to cry, realizing I make decisions at tables your great grandmother only had the privilege to polish, yet she never ceased to cultivate worth in herself and in us. While privilege was abused at her hand, she worked well anyway, giving us wealth in ways privilege could not steal- through love, discernment, and support. How could I not give the same to you? She taught me, our worth comes not from believing the world’s idea of who we couldn’t be, but by living, fighting and praying well because of who we could.

So for you, I began to pray well.

 

“God, let this child be seen. Let no one tell them ‘they don’t see your color or present-day racism’, when we will spend a lifetime doing things differently and thriving because of it.

God, let this child be moved. May they protect our country with love, but also with action in the face of injustice at every intersection. Let them remember- silence is a response we choose to deny love from moving forward.

God, let us be with them.”

Maya Angelou once said, “Anytime you have anything to do, bring everybody with you who has loved you.” We love them and will root for them always. We are always in the room, in their voice, heart and drive to do their best.

Amen.

And when you feel lost or overlooked- remember the day we met (you won’t, but I do). I traveled miles and hours to meet you. I brought my best camera and the biggest smile on my face to greet you before the world ever knew your name.

You arrived into this world with a head full of hair, voice all your own and heartbeats I counted as you peacefully slept.

You arrived into this world as a 6 pound, 5-ounce African-American boy, and all the days of your life, I eagerly await for you to take the world by storm.

 

 

 

 

Written by: Meghan Bates

Black Girls Speak: Silver Lined Cloudy Days

Black Girls Speak: Silver Lined Cloudy Days

Contemplate. Write. Scratch three-fifths of the sentences out. Write more. Anxiety surging, I work on Sudoku; incarcerating suspected and rightly convicted numbers alike within black and white cells. Frustration seeping through the pages next to me, I tear them from my notebook and throw them […]