Holidays are beautiful for some, and a painful reminder for others. This year, in particular, I can’t neglect my duty to craft a holiday message that is filled with joy but yet does not avoid the very real suffering that many have endured or are presently enduring.
Earlier this week, when I began crafting a holiday message for another Bella Caveat partner, I lamented that any words I would bring would fall short to deliver on the very real results which many in dire circumstances deserve. However, as I write to you now, I am quite confident that our words have power, and can both give and sustain hope – it simply depends on how we use those words.
A few years ago, a federal judge lambasted me in chambers. While spewing slights at me unapologetically, he screamed: “Who’s going to back you up?” referring to claims in my case which he opined were not welcome in his court. I was then forced to report that judge…and I promise to tell you all about it at another time. Today, however, I’m here to tell you that I stand firmly behind the words I bring to you, and my words have power, and are indeed backed up by even stronger actions. My words – and actions – are backed up by an army of the strongest, bravest, most resilient, and undefeated civil rights and human rights architects, engineers, and activists. Not to mention, the Lord, my God, hears my prayers. In the words of one of strongest Black women I have ever met, I have seen my savior’s face, and I know – my prayers are not wasted!
Unashamedly and with confidence I can and do declare that we – Black Women – are blessed! I can share my hope for you despite the injustice and suffering that we all see, because I have seen my savior’s face and my prayers are not wasted!
I have learned that a person who does not believe in God is a person who has never faced death (I haven’t heard of a single human who faced death without crying out to God), and following this same logic, my faith in God is unshakable! As a Black woman, and a descendant of U.S. government sanctioned slavery, if I relied on justice or equity from U.S. courts and institutions, I would not be alive today, because, as a Black woman, I have learned it is a fool’s errand to place hope and confidence in those who have and do demonstrate that my life is not valuable by their standards. Thus, my faith in God is strong, and I am alive today – in spite of those who actively desire to see me fall.
Take comfort in my words if it feels that you are opposed on every side, and for doing what is right and just. Indeed, I have often been perplexed as to why Christian churches in America do not support or stand by Black-American Christians (do we not serve the same God and read the same Bible? What do White Christians read in the Bible that comforts them as they silently watch Black humans murdered, raped, and denied justice in America? Why do they believe that Black girls being raped in Africa should be addressed from pulpits while the plight of Black girls in America is a non-event or easy fades from their memory?).
For too long too many of us have relied solely on justice and equity from a nation that willfully continues to deprive Black women and Black Americans of equal and equitable status with similarly situated peers (even while paying itself handsomely to do just that). Still – if you are reading this, you are alive despite in spite of all that you lack. You are a warrior! You deserve to take a day or two to celebrate.
The harsh reality of America is that when Hispanic, White, Asian, and immigrant Black women are accorded relief and status by the United States, Black female descendants of U.S. government sanctioned slavery are not treated equally or equitably to their female peer groups. (A Hispanic female who was on drugs, unlawfully in the United States, engaging in prostitution, and stripping as her ‘legal’ job was determined to be more deserving of relief than an educated Black woman whose character is beyond question. With a resume like that – prostitution, stripping, remaining unlawfully in a country, and drug use – that Hispanic young woman will probably be nominated for a Grammy or better yet – The Nobel Prize – because, of course, America selects and protects all the best people, so long as they aren’t Black American descendants of slaves. Of course, this sad and grotesque display mocking us all will be accompanied by gratuitous statements referencing perseverance, hard work, and The American Dream, omitting all truth and reality. Still, we are going to celebrate all that we’ve achieved this holiday season, because we are deserving.)
Black women – whose parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did not immigrate to the United States – are treated as less deserving than Black women who more recently arrived, and of their free will – not as slaves or descendants of slaves. To pile on another injury, Black women who more recently arrived tend to highlight issues not expedient for American Black women or women who are not immigrants, and opt to not call for accountability, and to insist that they have achieved position and status because they are deserving, and not due to the efforts and sacrifice of Black women who have died and bled to procure freedom for American women. Thus, Black female descendants of slaves, remain – by treatment – the least valued and deserving of actual tangible assistance other than the obligatory lip service acknowledging the disparate and unjust treatment, which non-Black women still manage to turn into an economic benefit for women who are not Black descendants of slaves (often citing Black plight to secure lucrative donations and government contracts for organizations which do not meaningfully benefit Black descendants of slaves). Still, we are going to celebrate this holiday season in style – because we are deserving!
So, to the women who are discouraged by the racism and disparate treatment of Black women or women generally – this is simply the burden and privilege of leadership: take courage, relief and justice is on the way.
This year the common theme throughout my holiday greetings has been ‘love thy neighbor’ or rather a portrait of what it means to be a good neighbor and leader. To those women who feel forgotten I urge you to remember: those who are first will always be first. It isn’t a status that can be lost, replaced, or diminished, regardless of who or how anyone tries to re-write history. Be encouraged and be proud of all that you have achieved for all women – regardless of who tries to take credit for your victories. You will always be first! We will always be first.
At a time when Black humans are only acknowledged in America when they are ‘other’ – from other countries, having other accents, engaged in other-than decent and moral activities, I have the distinct and privileged honor of honoring ALL women, including the Black female descendants of slaves, who live up to the strength, courage, character, ability and excellence which is manifest by the best of us that accepted this challenge long ago. Therefore, this message – and my life’s work – is only for the best of us which I remind you is a choice that we all must accept. This cannot be inherited, claimed, or owned by entitlement, by race or nationality. Standard bearing is a hard and dedicated work which the best of us bear with grace and courage.
Putting our fight aside to celebrate and encourage one another, do not forget to give thanks. No matter what has been thrown our way we have overcome, and beautifully no less! We have not only a record of achievement to contend with, we have a status all our own which cannot be usurped. For the longevity of our important work, I urge you to set aside this fight only for moment to celebrate our innumerable blessings and to recharge, because the best is still yet to come!
With love, equity, and strength, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a victorious New Year!
This body has not been cosmetically surgically altered.
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