By Any Means, We Are Black Women

black american culture

Some days I am aware of the amount of privilege that I wished to possess. In an uncanny fantasy, I dream that I can separate myself from the harrowing accounts told in today’s news cycle. The reality remains that I cannot cut away my part of middle-class America. From CNN to the local news station, I am aware that the cultural distress of turning on the news follows people everywhere. At times these updates are filtered through sixty-second Instagram videos or posts.

In my opinion, I believe this is the rediscovery period of collective trauma firsthand in the black community. From Michael Brown to Sandra Bland, black bodies became a symbol of our country’s culture once again post-slavery and post-civil rights era.

With extensive media exposure, I had to reanalyze my place in society as a black woman. With a lineage of foremothers and activists, I seek the help of those who came before me. Our social media age has allowed many of us to find each other even when we are not geographically in the same neighborhood. In other words, I am indebted to Instagram and Tumblr for allowing me to see women my own age and my mother’s age striving to shift the political mayhem in this country. So although I (alongside many other young women) are distressed about court rulings, unfair election standards, economic situations, educational opportunities, quality healthcare, and healing in a time of immense pressure – we are still moving forward.

For black women, I witness our efforts through social media and on-the-ground. We are threading the womanisms and black feminisms brought to us by our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and at times the women in history who feel as close to us as our immediate relatives. I am specifically talking about Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, Michelle Obama, Nikki Giovanni, Angela Davis, and many more names that resound in the breastplates of American black women.

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Our interactions with politics harkens back to the need to rebuild our communities and at times reinforce the structures that allow us to find shelter in ourselves (and with each other). My very existence as a black woman is political by default, circumstance, choice, and duty. The news does not carry the stories of all of the black women: those behind bars and victims of police brutality. It does not lend us to see or hear from the minds and spirits with emotional trauma, politicians with less privileges, and average folk crafting holistic and healing spaces. I believe it is impossible to cut away black womanhood from American politics – since said politics inflected their own set of rules on how black women can survive in this country.

Within the parameters of ease, I find myself falling back into anxiety. I am psychoanalyzing all of the relationships I am present in. I am looking back to past microaggressions – even those I didn’t recognize at the time. Who am I within these times? Am I showing up for myself without backsliding into fear because these are questionable times? I pose this question as a twenty-something-year-old with a lot of questions but not all of the answers. Am I afraid to live my best life despite the environment I am in? With these questions, I look toward the powerful, successful black women in my life and those whose influence pulsates outside of a set decade. Their words and decisions to act carry on in another generation of black women.

Aginetta Mulima, a self-published poet, graduated from Cedar Crest College with a B.A. in Writing and Global Studies. She has lived in five states and currently resides in Pennsylvania. When she is not writing, she is painting, hitting up local thrift stores, and watching Star Trek.

Featured Photo: Camila Rosa

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