As a black woman, anytime I exercised an abundance of self-love and self-empowerment, I’ve made others around me very uncomfortable. Society has a tendency to accept overt confidence in almost every demographic before black women, even if their behavior borders the lines of cockiness. As I’ve struggled to speak up for myself, I realized that I was easily accepted by others. As I have explained in my previous blogs, throughout my life I struggled with my own self-esteem. I was easier to deal with; being silent, pushed over, and tolerant. I was humble. Often times this created unbalanced relationships and friendships in my life. I often found myself being the one to “take the high road”, or felt obligated to allow those around me to outshine me. It left me feeling smothered by their hatred, enslaved by their opinions, and exhausted trying to prove myself. In recent years, I’ve began to not only find my voice, but to project it out. I deserved to break free of the chains that surrounded me. Only my truth can set me free, alongside my love.
The more vocal I became, the more of a problem I became to others. The more resistance I received from others. The ones who found me speaking up for myself saw me as a problem. Even if it were those who were just as vocal and confident in their own voices. Even if I gave them the patience and understanding to be themselves. Was I not also just as entitled? I’ve encountered this often while I was in the military, especially as a leader. The demographics of many of those I faced much resistance, came from white men, white women, and black men. Sometimes other black women. I was never an issue when I was the push over, but when I became vocal I was “the bitch”. A label I’ve learned since I was a young girl only invalidated any truth I spoke for myself. A truth that many couldn’t handle it comprehend. When I found the courage to speak for myself, I became a bigger “bitch” than they were. This soemtimes causes others to feel intimidated (fearful). When you are feared, you become a target, and often times I was. I was even scapegoated for issues that I had no direct cause to. I realized my allies during these times were other outcasted, and vocal black women. We had something in common.
The fear I see my voice provokes in others can be astounding. Many times I’ve seen other black women submit over time to become accepted again. The speak less, and tolerate more. To remain humble, even if it was uncomfortable. Only to eventually find themselves in the same position they were in before. Smothered by their mistreatment. Killing themselves slowly with the bottled up emotions and words they are afraid to speak. Allowing their pain to be dismissed, desensitized, and invalidated. I’ve lived this reality most of my life. Now, it’s time for me to break free. To find my own freedom in my own empowerment. No matter who it angers. No matter the resistance. No matter the costs. No matter my fears.
Dear Black Women,
Aren’t you tired, sister? Tired of pretending? Tired of reducing? Tired of your muzzle? If more sisters recognized the power in their voice, perhaps others will learn to respect our voice. Perhaps we will gain the respect we deserve for our humanity. Or perhaps others will resist more. I can’t tell you. What I can say, however, is that I will have the courage to take a stand. Even if alone. Instead of allowing myself to compromise, only to be swallowed whole. My life matters. My voice matters. Humble, for what?
I am self-defined.
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
– Audre Lorde
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