Silent Lies: Why Black Women Must Continue to Lead the Resistance

“I learned how to stand up for myself from the civil rights movement. We learned from you.”
 
Original post appeared 7/22/15 (updated)


Tonya, did you know?
 
Those were the words spoken to me by the then reigning Ms. Wheelchair VA many, many years ago.
  
She and I had just presented a workshop together.  I must tell you, though due to her disability, she doesn’t speak clearly.
 
I am able to speak English quite clearly.  However, I got dusted.  I was the weak link up there in front of that audience. Like, embarrassingly weak.
 
I simply wasn’t prepared.  I took the engagement for granted because I assumed that I knew the information well enough that I really didn’t need much preparation.  

Common intermediate speaker error. Consequences were suffered. 

But Ms. Wheelchair VA, oh she was ready.  She was funny, engaging, and the audience was all in. She came with it.   


Here was the touching thing
After the workshop when we had time alone, I did wonder how she got to be so bold and confident.  So, I inquired.

That is when she shared with me something I won’t ever forget.  She told me that observing the civil rights movement had empowered her.  
A white woman from southwestern Virginia. Hmph. 
 
I knew that I had been inspired by the movement.  

I knew that I had gained a GREAT DEAL from the movement.  

I grew up in the civil war south.  (I know I should say [post] but everyone there doesn’t know that.)

I got it. 

I just had no idea that other people were impacted though.

Historical Honor in Activism and Advocacy

It wasn’t just her though. It was many folks in the disability rights movement.  Along the way, I began to hear that from other groups of people, including feminists, LGBT activists, environmental activists, etc.   

 
Over the years I can’t tell you how often I have heard praise for the civil rights movement.  More than that, some people name names. 

At one point, I had to catch myself because I had heard it so often that I was beginning to take it for granted. 
 
But, oh, I dare not do that! The price that was paid was far too high.
 
Just Call in Black Today
 
(We learned of the death of Sandra Bland #SayHerName)

You know, last night, I was so discouraged that I announced on social media that I couldn’t write.  That stunned me.  

Through all of my trauma, I can always write.  

What do you mean, “I can’t write?” 

Singing, writing, dancing, painting, sculpting, quilting, cooking, knitting, even cleaning is the language of the black woman. No one listens to us so sometimes that is how we speak. 
 
Last night, I watched too many women of color; bloggers/journalists/authors randomly share the same sentiments. 

“I can’t write………”

What in the world was wrong with us?
 
“Sadness.” 
Not even tired, “tied”
“Despair”
“Exhaustion.” 
“Fatigue.” 
“I can’t.” 
“Done.” 
 
The pressure for black women to be silent about suffering and/or social conditions is suffocating. Like pollution.  Thick smog. 

It is why we have the most and the worst trolls on social media. 
 
Silence Log
 
Historically, when any black woman speaks on sexual or domestic violence, she faces heavy fire from all angles. 

We know, that even those who say they want to help often do so only because it serves their own agenda.
 
 

Do you see this?
 
Because see meanwhile, black women are suffering.  

Violence, health disparities, worrying about our families’ safety and well-being in ways that other people don’t even have to consider. 

64,000 black women are missing and y’all will look for missing dogs first before you look for one of them.
 
On top of that, black women are being killed under strange circumstances while in police custody.  Of course, we are being told that they are suicides. 

Which makes no sense to us. Black women maneuver through an obstacle course of “isms” daily. 

But on that day we just decide we can’t take it anymore?  
 
I was born this way
 
What I know for sure is this.  

To whom much is given, much is expected.  In spite of all of this it is a wonderful gift to be a born a black woman. 

I said, it is a wonderful gift to be born a black woman!

It is like waking up and opening a present on Christmas morning every single day.
 
We are, at once: influential, beautiful, creative, strategic, nurturing, kind, gentle, intuitive, groovy, innovative, compassionate, empathetic, stylish, and resilient!
 
I realize that even though we as black women continue to struggle, there are entire populations that benefit from our struggle.  

We have no idea the impact that we are making on those around us.
 
See, black women don’t only influence fashion trends, hair styles, entertainment, art, science, etc.  

We inspire entire social movements towards progress.  

We shatter barriers of silence with our screams, our rants, our songs, our poems, our wailing, our tears, and our rallying cries. 
 
We climb mountains and flag poles (What up Bree Newsome?) if we have to but we make it happen.   
 
That is the spirit that carried Sandra Bland.  

That is why so many of us mourn this week.  Because we lost a beautiful soul when we lost Sandra Bland.  I will weep this week.
 
But there will be joy!  And then, it’s back on. 

See I can not be caught off guard anymore.  No, ma’am. 

I must be ready.
 
I will choose to persevere.  

I will choose to be vocal.  

I will choose to be resilient.  

I will choose to sparkle.  

I will choose to be bold.  

I will choose to express my beauty.   Yeah, I’ll let you see.
 
And I will choose to do it ALL out loud.  
 
What?!


Tonya GJ Prince
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Tonya GJ Prince

Tonya is a Social Justice Info Expert with over 23 years experience. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her cat MiaBelle is her co-writer.
Tonya GJ Prince
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