This post is the first in a series called Perspectives, written by Circles members. Perspectives will highlight the various experiences and identities of individuals from their unique worldview.
BY ASHLEI SPIVEY
I work in the space of inclusion and equity- and wanted to write something really profound for this first blog; push and challenge readers but I was stumped. So, I decided to share with you what I know the most about–but still not everything–being a Black Woman.
Being a Black woman is complex, beautiful, exhausting, powerful, challenging, fluid, evolving and rich. See, before I am a woman, I am Black. And my Blackness and my womanhood intersect and help to create a dimension of my experience.
As I came into my own space to navigate this world, I have found that there are narratives set for me and narratives I am able to build. Through my professional bucket, I am usually the only Black woman in the room. I KNOW that I am under a microscope, so I must perform three times better than my counterparts. I must not be too assertive as I will be seen as angry. I cannot be stern in my tone as I will have an attitude. I must always look the part and be polished. There is no room for error.
Through my relationships, I know that colonization has created systemic issues that have changed what dating looks like for me. I also know that my full lips, kinky hair and wide thighs aren’t deemed desirable unless a plastic surgeon adds it to skin not as dark as mine.
As a parent raising a black man, I know I have a hell of a job. I just can’t nurture my sweet three-year-old because as early as five, he will be criminalized. I know the stereotypes and bias that swarm him. So, I over parent. He can never throw a tantrum. He has to always be in control of his emotions. He must over perform. He can’t be too aggressive. He has to learn to temper himself. Because if he doesn’t learn it now, it could cost him his life.
Being a Black woman is complex, beautiful, exhausting, powerful, challenging, fluid, evolving, and rich. See, before I am a woman, I am Black. And my Blackness and my womanhood intersect and help to create my experience.
I have learned, through family, friends, community, mentors, peers, my historically black college family and life experiences, that there is nothing like a Black Woman. I have learned that I don’t have to accept the narratives given to me. I am Lisa’s child. The Black Woman who took care of two girls, obtained a Bachelor’s and
Master’s degree while working full time, never missed a school sporting event, was team mom every year, and anything and everything else I needed.
Black Girl Magic is real and I sprinkle dust everywhere I go. I am the only one in the room now and I’m going to bring three more with me next time.
My long braids in variations of black and brown scream the royalty of the Black Women before me. My Afro, a little lopsided, speaks to me finally recognizing my hair that grows out of my head is good enough–and don’t touch it.
Through osmosis, I give my son all the knowledge given to me. I love him with my light and he will flourish because of his richness, his Blackness. He is Black Boy Joy.
In the words of Audre Lorde, there is no single issue. Black women are multi-faceted with an array of experiences and narratives. My identities and experiences shape my world view. They allow me to navigate a world that isn’t built for me.
We figure it out, excel, conquer and do it all again.