Black women are stars in the wretched galaxy of planet Earth—and the world knows it. In these United States of America, what makes us magical is that despite our better judgement and knowledge of ourselves, we are taught to constantly reflect on how we might be received before we present our minds, bodies, voices and spirits to other people. We are forced to consider everyone else, constantly, in an environment of negotiating time, space, circumstances and the impact of the ways in which our empowered identities simply do not assimilate with white supremacy.
As we navigate an era of dictatorship that allows doctors to deny women who have had an abortion and transgender people the right to healthcare access based on the religious preferences of the provider, we must rely on our traditional healing work and Indigenous practices to disrupt this obstruction of our human rights. When a nation fails to prioritize healthcare as a human right, it is hazardous to the health and wellbeing of this country. We, Black women, nonbinary people and transgender folx know this firsthand. Starting with the first white baby we were forced to nurse on the plantation, our blood and the full helix of our DNA is the earthseed of this country. The identities of white supremacists whose ancestors lives thrived from our nourishment know our power. Their actions reflect the fear and fragility that breed the hostility toward our desire and demand to be all that we are, and everything that this nation has gained from our labor for us to inherit.
Because we know the abundance of all that is ours, we demand justice.
We are clear that our destinies instigate fears in those whose optical lens tilts further when witnessing our dreams deferred rather than realized. Black Feminist poet June Jordan, spoke about the denial of our actualization and bodily autonomy in her piece, “A Poem About My Rights.” She begins with explaining how in the most simple actions of a day, we are confronted with reminders of violence, fear and denial enacted on our bodies and lives:
Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/ alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin . . .
The universe of my liberation work is situated within the human rights framework of reproductive justice. Coined by Black women over 20 years ago, it is a framework that affirms, demands and protects the ability for individuals to make their own decisions about their lives, bodies, labor, sexuality and reproduction. It flies squarely in the faces of those who believe that they can determine the worth of a person based on the conditions of their birth, race, gender and ancestry.
We say the names of Lucy, Betsy and Anarcha, three Black slave women whose bodies underwent the brutal forced experimentation of Dr J. Marion Sims. Their forced sacrifice paved the way for advances in modern gynecology that all people benefit from today. To make this current, the mortality of Black slave women during the peak of slavery mirrors the life expectancy of Black transgender women today, whose fight for self-determined gender expression has already had positive ripples for the rights and healthcare access of all transgender people.
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
To ensure a baseline of survival, we are forced to participate in a life experience that is akin to the Hunger Games. We are trained to be twice as strong to reap half as much for our efforts, and are thrust into a fight-to-the-death survival to provide our rightness, humanity and dignity. We rely on our resilience to restore our will after it has been broken time and time again, and yet we show up proud, glorified and confident in spite of this rigorous tampering with our will.
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being so reasonable about
Black women are a galaxy. Among us are unique stars that represent the wholeness of who we are, our identities, our expressions, our fluidity. We name ourselves, we claim ourselves and we navigate the world on the wings of our ancestors. We who walk this earth are the guardians of the galaxy. All that is breathes life and creates new opportunities for our compassion to overflow.
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life
We do not cede our consent ever. What we are witnessing is particular to our current experience under the despotic leadership’s attempts to lay claim to our consent. The pussy-grabbing molesters, ableist monsters, Islamophobic criminals, perpetrators in the genocide of Indigenous people and the resources of their land that we share with them. We must summon the will and ways of our ancestors who infused unabiding love with an iron fist of discipline to save our land, our people, our culture and our critical human and natural resources.
Black is woman, femme, transgender, nonbinary. The all that makes us everything. Without us, Black futures are obsolete.
This post is part of the Black Futures Month blog series brought to you by The Huffington Post and the Black Lives Matter Network. Each day in February, look for a new post exploring cultural and political issues affecting the Black community and examining the impact it will have going forward. For more Black History Month content, check out Black Voices’ ‘We, Too, Are America’ coverage.