I See You.

Afro cry by Olga Lolo

For centuries they told us we weren’t good enough as they pillaged our bodies, stole our rights and enslaved us.

For centuries we were raped and impregnated, our children taken away and sent off to never be seen again.

For centuries they told us that we were not the epitome of beauty. They told us our natural body types were unhealthy, our hair not good and our skin color unappealing. For centuries men put their stereotypes on us. White women turned their backs on us.

For centuries the future of the world was forced into our arms, hearts and our care. For centuries that future grew into men and women and with age they grew hatred and unfounded, unproven and untrue superiority. The future that we molded and nurtured turned away from us in scorn, in hate and in shame.

Now as our sons, brothers and fathers are being murdered we stand together in solidarity. We stand with our hands clasped in unity and support. We throw our bodies and our minds in between our men and the forces that seek to wipe them from the planet, only to be ignored and blamed by those same sons, brothers and fathers when we are murdered.

Now we are told that we are too loud and too angry despite the fact that we have every right to be loud and angry. Instead of trying to understand us, they demean and vilify us. We are told that our hair isn’t proper, our butts too big and our noses too wide to be positive influences on our society.

We are shown that our lives and our freedom means little by the inaction and the silence of those who are tasked with the responsibility of protecting us. We are forced into the bubble of “angry black female” and the chains of judgement and condemnation are forced around our wrists into a new form of slavery that comes from without and also from within.

In a time where we are beaten for independence, fetishized by the descendants of those who violated us, stolen from our schools and killed when we withhold our consent, black women, I see you.

I see your spirit and your strength and your unyielding loyalty and your devotion to a better future. I see your style and your creativity and your heart which you wear proudly on your sleeve. I hear the music you have created. I read the words that you have written. I watch the films you have directed. I explore the worlds you have built. I lose myself in the art you have constructed.

I see you with your natural hair, your weaves, your wigs and all the other ways that you perfected to explore your beauty and your own individual style. This is your right, no matter what they tell you.

I see you as you push beyond the box that they have tried to trap you in. I see you rebel against the notion of who you should be as you become who you were meant to be.

I feel your tears and agony as you are told that you are not good enough. I feel your betrayal as the boys that you raised become men who despise and discredit the women who look like you. I feel your rage when you realize that for many, feminism is a privilege reserved for the white.

I see you dream. I see you conquer. I see you pull yourself back up when you fail. I see you grip the hand of your sisters and pull us up with you as you ascend. I see you taking control of your body. I see you improving your mind. I see you embracing your creativity. I see you excelling in your actions. I see you smashing glass ceilings that have been out of your reach for way too long,

I see you demanding civility, gaining respect and achieving the wildest dreams of your ancestors.

I see you bounce back when hurt. I see you claim yourself when abandoned. I see you name your daughters after African Queens in a time where you are taught that it is the European queens who are worth remembering. I see you taking back your culture, embracing your heritage and accepting your place as a goddess among the stars.

I feel your magic. I embrace your unique lease on life.

I dance it out with you. I stand in the glow of your sun. I learned from you how to become my own person.

Black women, I see you for all that you are. I see you for all that you could be and I see you for all that you will be.

As you fight and push for everything that you are owed and everything that you deserve, I see you for what you are…Goddesses made of magic and conflict and love and conviction and pepper and salt and sugar and spice.

So real. So beautiful. Supreme and elegant.

When no one else sees or acknowledges or gives you the attention you so richly deserve, please know that I am like you.

I am proud to be like you, because I see you.