Korryn Gaines Taught Me

Korryn Gaines’ last words to her child before her crucifixion:

“Who is outside?” She said.

“The police.” He answered.

“What are they trying to do?”

“They’re trying to kill us.”

“Do you want to go out there?”


Who is outside?

They are trying to kill us.

Do you want to go out there?


What are they trying to do?

They are trying to kill us.

Who is outside?

The police.

Who is outside?

They are trying to kill us.

What are they trying to do?

They are trying to kill us.

Do you want to go out there?

They are trying to kill us.

They are trying to kill us.

They are trying and succeeding.

There is no one more valuable and no one more despised than the Black woman who is fighting from the depths of her womb. No man comes to her aid, her children cannot protect her, the white women she knows will pay her no mind. Most often they are sidekicks and second in command in the field of her oppressors.

“This is what a feminist looks like.” Nah, I’m good.

Because Black motherhood is never so revered and Black femininity so highly regarded. There is no one coming to save us and we will die on the road paved with white women’s ambitions.

Where are the mothers coming to mourn Korryn’s body?

Where are the feminists to support her claim to autonomy?

Where are the women, who are not Black women, leveraging their power to call for justice for a young mother?

Where is women’s equality beyond clamoring to become white men?

I do not fear the white men who call me “bitch,” “nigger,” and “whore” behind the safety of their keyboards. It is not the calls for my rape, my murder that keep me up at night.

Rather it is the chilling final prayer of a Black mother that haunts me in my sleep. That I might have to say one day to my child:

“Who is outside?”

To which they reply:

“They are trying to kill us.”

I should not be so naive as to believe in post-racial sisterhood. Such solidarity has seldom been found in a place like this.

“I have borne thirteen children, and seen most sold off to slavery, and when I cried out in a mother’s grief . . . none but Jesus heard me.” Sojourner taught me that mothers can never just be mothers, and that Black mothers have little more to lean on than God.

“I’m with her!” They proclaim, though she’s not with me. Turns out you don’t need a penis to kill Black and brown kids. Turns out, this sisterhood cannot overcome our racial caste.

The world taught me I was too loud, too ugly, too Black, too angry. The world taught me that no one cares for Black women and no one will care for me. Once the world is done using me, getting its nourishment from my teat and its pleasure from my groin, it will just as easily discard me. The world taught me that to be a Black women in America is to be nothing and everything all at the same time.

But Korryn taught me a new story.

Korryn taught me to take freedom.

Korryn showed me what it is to lay down your life for another.

Korryn displayed love and bravery more than most will ever know in their lifetime.

Korryn showed me what to do when the demons come to your doorstep, when the badges of your overseers and the guns of your masters come to roost. Korryn showed me a slow and silent death among the social movements built upon us but not for us is not the only way.

Korryn showed me how to fight back. She showed me how to speak truth. She showed me that mothering bred in deep dedication will leave you with one hand around your baby and one hand on a gun. She showed me there are some things we must be willing to die for.

Korryn taught me what it is to be a martyr and a saint. She taught me how to love with ferocity and strength.

But most importantly Korryn taught me that at the end of the day we only have ourselves, Black women.

But thank God, Korryn taught me . . . ourselves is enough.


Lead image: Autumn Armstrong/@thepaintedladyla

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