in church today, we talked about taking care of things that are fragile. when something is both precious and fragile, you go to great lengths to ensure it is handled with care. you don’t want it to be damaged. you don’t want it to be broken. you don’t want to lose it because it is valuable to you. after an extended season of brutal attack on black and brown people in america where we have to constantly remind our fellow countrymen that we are valuable, too, we are all fragile and need to be handled with care.
Was already weary. Was already heavy hearted. Was already tired. Where can we be safe? Where can we be free? Where can we be black?
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) June 18, 2015
something i am coming to learn about myself is i am a carrier. i carry things and people. someone asked me if i was burdened; if i carried burdens. i immediately said no. i didn’t feel burdened. but as i’ve done some reflecting on the way i show love and the way i care for those in my life, i realized i am burdened. i carry other people’s burdens, most times without even realizing i’ve taken it on.
i don’t think that is a bad thing in and of itself. i seem to be gifted in the ability to anticipate people’s needs, and i think much of that comes from knowing their burdens and seeking to help lighten the load. but something that is more harmful than helpful is my refusal to fall apart when my own burdens threaten to drown me. i am notorious for finding a way to swiftly make peace with my pain.
no one wants to share your burden long term. we want people to grieve and then move on as quickly as possible. but that time table is not based on your personal grief schedule, or your method of processing the crap that life throws at you. it’s always based on someone else’s needs. they want to go back to being comfortable around you so you figure out how to suck it up and put on a happy face and go back to life as usual.
every time something racist happens in america, our white brothers and sisters like to debate and argue about how it’s not racist but deserved, everything isn’t about race, and we really need to stop blaming all white people for what a few white supremacist groups do. sigh. if only it were that simple. but this post isn’t about educating you on how white supremacy forms the basis of every single institution in our country. you can read about it here though. this post is all about how burdened i – we – feel every time we are confronted with the belief that our lives don’t matter and how we have to convince the world otherwise.
when you have grown so weary, so brokenhearted, so tired, it is hard to hold back the tears swelling behind your eyes and stifle the wails building in your chest. this week, i reached my breaking point. how long can we shout black lives matter before it seeps into your consciousness and you start to believe it? the word says as a man thinketh in his heart, so is. what does your heart say? what does it believe about black people? that’s who you are. racism isn’t just waving the confederate flag, shouting nigger at a group of black people, or refusing to rent to a person with black skin. it’s also seeing that black people are in pain and refusing to acknowledge that pain because you can’t relate to it, or you’re not directly responsible for it. racism is staying quiet when you see an act of discrimination, however subtle, because you don’t want to be uncomfortable. racism is arguing that black people would be better off in life if they would improve their moral character and work ethic. it is the small microaggressions as much as it is the overt hate crimes like what happened at emanuel african methodist episcopal church.
after a season of being battered and bruised, i couldn’t take it anymore. i spent the end of the week in the woods camping with my surrogate family. it was refreshing and needed, but it did not help me release the burden i recently realized i was carrying. as much as i want to be a carefree black woman, i am far from it today. so, when i woke up this morning singing “in the sanctuary” by martha munizzi, i knew it was time for me to figure out a way to lay down my own burdens. i feel like i’ve been carrying this load for two years now and this week it got too heavy to carry any longer.
as i made my way to church, still singing “in the sanctuary” i prayed for an atmosphere where i could in fact “come and lay down the burden you are carrying.” this is significant for someone who doesn’t fall apart. and honestly, when i felt the tears starting to spill out the corners of my eyes, my first thought was to excuse myself to the bathroom where i could cry in private. but it hit too fast and too strong. i was far too fragile to move. and once the tears started, i lacked all ability to reign them in. i could not stop crying. for all the lives lost. for all the dreams stolen. for all the opportunities denied. for all the hurtful words. for all the unkind acts. for all the evil visited on black bodies. for all the denial of our pain. for all the demands to get over it. for all the ways salt has been thrown into the wound. i cried. and wailed. and at long last found a place to lay down the burden i found myself carrying as a black woman in america.
we have reached a breaking point in our country and i sincerely hope with my full capacity to hope that we will not squander our opportunity to do what is right and just. my fragile heart can’t take having to explain to the next generation how to survive as a black person in america. god commanded us to have life and have it more abundantly. it’s time for black people to know what that looks like. but until our country is able to face its demons and address the devastating remnants of slavery, please, handle us with care.