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Grace Jones full of grace.

What Am I if Not Black and Woman

I remember being that girl way back when postcards and replies that junked mailboxes were considered the Instagram of the times.

The Women.

No, not the movie in its full manifestation — but rather the antidote to a coerced disposition — searching for which way to go in order to fulfill plenty.

From Jane Magazine to Honey Magazine — the hunger never dissipated to the point where anything would do.

I remember standing on the platform at the PATH station at 33rd Street in Manhattan — proudly donning the frocks I had purchased off the racks at a downtown vintage store. A nicely presented woman who was about the age I am now approached me and began to inquire about my right to be there.

After a few minutes she expressed her innermost thoughts.

I was a “diamond in the rough” and Backstage was going to set me back on course. I took it as a sign of things to come. She was right, Backstage was the bible for anyone that needed the pass into showbiz on the East Coast.

I did extra work for TV shows and took the black and white headshots that were meant to shoot me into stardom.

But, back then the only women of color that were doing anything worth mentioning looked like Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams, and soon the hunger faded and I was left with the hope for words on paper.

That also proved to be a challenge since my era demanded mailings and months of waiting for the reply that didn’t link up with your wishes. Networking wasn’t as easy as a tweet to the neighborhood venues of choice. You had to be lucky enough to stumble upon a Black woman editor at your hair salon — and even then she wasn’t readily accepting of your mission statement.

#BlackGirlMagic wasn’t the anthem and Black women were not willing to shed their skin for your comfort. There were no Ava DuVernays or Amma Asantes or Bevy Smiths.

Fast-forward to the present and the game changer is a lifesaver.

What Am I, If not Black and Woman.

Women are being celebrated and heralded for what we offer and what we sacrificed to make those offerings profound. I recognize the glory of what it took to make me who I am today.

It took the brilliance of Sandra Bland who died because she was too smart. It took the mothers of the movement who lost their lives through the ones they gave life to, and it took the Black women who saw me blindly shuffling around until they decided to rescue me.

I was once lost and now I’m found.

I’m old enough to mentor and give lessons to save souls that resemble the scattered membranes I once fostered. I promise to do that immediately.

Before I begin — I must say that being a Black woman is the highest honor I can ever imagine embodying. We are beautiful in spirit and body. When I see how our hair contorts into gorgeous shapes and sizes — doused in hues of recognition — it astounds me. When I witness our bodies that provide the blueprint that others pay thousands to replicate — I can’t help but feel sorry for Black men who believe that the replicas will save them and their unborn children.

When I take in the brilliance of our words, and the words spoken into song and dance and the words cooked in the frying pan of literary wonder and the words trumpeted into the folds of why we are what we are without the legislation of White women who think they know what we are — when we march into the lie of what we are not.

I boldly contemplate the joy of being Black and woman.

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say!

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