May 29, 2023

I retreated, the weight of the headlines, the trauma of being a black woman in America too much to maintain my sanity.

I retreated to the safe place. In solitude. A place where I learned as a little girl to block out the noise and the danger, to whisper prayers quietly, where my black skin blended with the darkness and I could be small in a sea of vast emptiness that will not hurt me.

But, I can’t live there. I can’t make money, and kiss babies and create art. I can’t fulfill my purpose in this closet, in this darkness — this void.

Life begs me to live outside these shadows, to be the light, in spite of the darkness. But, when a sister is felled beside me, it makes the steps forward harder to take.

Malcolm X said:

“The most disrespected woman in America, is the Black Woman. The most un-protected person in America is the Black Woman. The most neglected person in America, is the Black Woman”

Since black women came to this Native inhabited island, displaced jewels of Mother Africa, we have fought and foraged, kneeled and nurtured, clawed and cleaned, in an attempt to make a homeland for our children.

We’ve toiled soil, wiped white bottoms, held the weight of men heavy with oppression.

Our successes are little to the Kronos of America, a white supremacy that invades and dehumanizes our very being. Some days it’s all too big, some days all too bright and some days we need our closets, our safe spaces, our sanctuaries.

I reached out to a sister while pulling this event together, apologized for my fogginess and admitted that I just wasn’t completely myself. She responded with just a few words, “I get it. I do.”

In that moment, I knew I was not alone. Although, my sanctuary is different from yours, we’ve all learned to create a safe space, a sanctuary to just be.

Tomorrow, On the National Day of Outrage, know that you are not alone in your grief. Know that the world mourns with you and join together, to breathe and release. To gather strength for the next day and to celebrate the life of Atatiana Jefferson.

These battles aren’t new. They are as American as apple pie after lynchings, as American as sharecropping and Jim Crow, but the leaders, the people who are waging this battle are fresh faces. It’s time for new ideas. It’s time to heal old wounds, it’s time to demand respect of our mothers and grandmothers, our sisters and friends and fight against the normalcy that reduces beating hearts to hashtags and headlines.

Look for local events in your area. Create safe spaces for black women to fully live, to fully BE. Use your being to make the next steps she may take easier and heed the call of the privilege of the living to advocate for those that are dying, at the hands of an unjust system.

Talamieka Brice is an award-winning artist, photographer and visual storyteller, Drawing inspiration from Maya Angelou and her hometown of Kilmichael, Miss., Brice is a force to be reckoned with, combining her point of view and her wicked design skills. Brice is the wife of a veteran, the mother to Honor and Love. She also completed the Barack Obama mural on the newly minted namesake elementary formerly known as Jefferson Davis Elementary School.
Twitter: @talamieka

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