Last night, after reading about Ma’Khia Bryant, I called my soon to be 15-year-old niece.
Like me, she is an unapologetic, truth-telling, brown skinned, mixed-race, Black and Hispanic, who is sweeter than honey and radical about justice.
I needed to see her beautiful brown skin.
I needed to hear her sweet voice.
I needed to delight in her brilliant mind.
We unpacked the Chauvin verdict.
She expressed her anger, confusion, and fears. She compared and contrasted how police approach and apprehend white male mass shooters in comparison to unarmed black people and in particular black men. We talked about justice vs. accountability. We named that without public outcry, there would not have been a guilty verdict. We recognized that while a guilty verdict is accountability under our current criminal legal system, Chauvin’s imprisonment is not justice. It is punishment. She named justice as accountability, repair and reconciliation.
We talked about our shared experience with colorism and anti-blackness as multi-racial and ethnically ambiguous beings. We lamented the ways in which our brown skin is perceived as both “too black” and “not black enough”. Her unspoken words expressed the weight of carrying this reality within in her body. Her silent words revealed “this is why I show up as I do in the world.” Perhaps, I could hear the words she could not speak because I, too, carry that same burden.
While I was listening and holding space for her lived experience, something shifted inside of me.
I am a 41-year-old, single woman with no children of my own. For the past 5 -6 year, I have cared for and treated my works and commitments to social justice as my most intimate relationship. These works of mine have been the children that I mother.
In some cases, they have taken up so much space in my life that there is little to no room left for me or my loved ones. That is, I and my loved ones get what is left of me.
As I write this, I am keenly aware that I am again experiencing another episode of burn out.
I am physically drained.
I am mentally fatigued.
I am emotionally exhausted.
As I lean into and listen deeply for the words beneath the groans, laments and cries, coming from within my community, I know that I am not alone. I say to you,”Take rest, friend”.
Laugh with your loved ones.
Take a stroll in the park.
Sit with a good book.
Sip on a glass of wine.
Embrace the activity of nothingness.
Delight in the beauty of your own energy…be in solitude.
Love on yourself, beloved.