"Sometimes you gotta make the mirror your best friend Maybe then, you’ll find some peace within Stop hiding yourself, stop hiding yourself Love yourself When no one else can." Lalah Hathaway, Mirrors
As I looked at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I smiled through toothpaste foam and loved on myself while giving thanks. In 8 days, I will be 42. *I like the number 8, infinity on its side. And, I can’t stop cheesing and grinning. I’m excited for 42*
As I brushed my teeth, I held two thoughts: 1) Jesse Williams acceptance speech on the BET Awards was everything (I’m still processing it) and how messy of people to say negative things about his wife like, she isn’t “beautiful” enough to be with such a “beautiful” man.
Jesse Williams said, “Thing is, just because we are magic doesn’t mean we aren’t real.” What….yaaaaaas! I felt that in my soul!
As I scraped my tongue (with the tongue scraper), this thought morphed into my second thought, a memory of someone saying to me, “There are two types of fat Black gyrls in this world, one who is quiet & in the corner with her head tucked, or the fat loud sloppy one…” Though I remember the comment, I do not remember my response. Probably, I stood there with a thirty-second-delay pondering who died and made this person gawd of “Black fat types”—I’m sure that was prior to me correctin’ and checkin’ the person. *pause with my hand on my hip and smh* I’ve noticed that folks think they can say anything to big gyrls, like absolutely anything—harsh ish, and tons of unsolicited comments and advice. Many-o-times I’ve had to shut folk down, like literally go all in for them to stop.
As I rinsed my mouth, I thought about how I navigate spaces. I’ll never say never, but in general, I cannot recall a time when I’ve entered a space trying to shrink or be invisible because I’m a plus-sized Black womon. For one, I am very aware of my energy and what I bring into a space; moreover, I do NOT rock with shame or embarrassment. For two, I wear too many bright colors, to avoid visibility most days. For three, I wear headwraps, so, it’s sorta hard to miss me…
As I tended to my oral hygiene, outside of the bathroom window and even now as I type this, I hear morning birds sing morning songs and it’s beautiful and sweet and calming. So, I don’t feel like going into the whole body positivity spiel, and fuq folks who shit on fat people, and all skinny people are not healthy, and all fat people are not walking dis-eases, and I’m fabulous etc etc etc.—that aint the point of this countdown post…
…On the brink of 42, I also know for sure: It is imperative to our survival as Black gyrls/womyn to live our lives as whole persons. To navigate spaces as whole persons. I am confident and unashamed in showing up in my life, and in public/private spaces as my whole self. I am unapologetic about the wholeness of me. I do not carry other people’s perception of me as my truth.
Now you know the remedy Tell yourself you will achieve Just go on and brush your shoulders off This bridge is one that you must cross You have to find a way to make it These clouds are letting up for awhile Lalah Hathaway, Mirrors
“All Bodies Are Beautiful” Image from the Body Positivity Exhibition at Central European University. Artist unknown.
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Jesse Williams BET Humanitarian Award Acceptance Speech
Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, and that they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also thank my amazing wife for changing my life.
Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.
It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.
Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.
Now… I got more y’all – yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich.
Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712.
Tell that to Eric Garner.
Tell that to Sandra Bland.
Tell that to Dorian Hunt.
Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.
There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them.
But freedom is somehow always conditional here.
“You’re free,” they keep telling us.
But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.
Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle.
We want it now.
And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do.
We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.
The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.