Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Two Selves

“As long as we are not ourselves, we will try to be what other people are.” -Malidoma Patrice Somé (Of Water and the Spirit)

I am an African American woman, hailing from a proud African American family. I honor daily the fortitude of those who paved my way and who sustain me to this day – long before the ships that delivered them to the unholy institution of slavery and its subsequent manifestations. We are a people brimming with life and love and steelpersistence despite wounds of aggression and wounds self-afflicted.  We persist. We hope. We work. We heal. We dance. We carry. We stand.

I carry this fortitude throughout my being…in my decisive walk…my frequent hands-which oft speak more eloquently than my tongueeven my earrings that  alternately frame and dazzle and swing.  

Yet on a given day, you may not see much or all of this surety. Because as an African American woman in America I have found that when I do express myself – or too much of myself – my affect can be received for superficiality, my passion for emotion and my laughter for sport. Or worse, not received at all. A lifetime confirms that all of me doesn't flow in spaces that aren’t ready or accepting of my way of being and leading, both as a woman and as an African American. So I  not uncommonly opt to not give others too much "stress" by cutting off conversations I long to have and actions that need response. 

When I hear words that malign my womanhood and my clan, actions that insult my intelligence and assumptions that belie my worth I pause, considering when, how and if to respond. Asking myself if it is really up to me to respond. Guilting myself that I am indeed obligated to respond. Even sometimes resenting that I am much to often the only one in the room who can respond.

And for those times that I don’t temper myself, I do so recognizing that some will feel I’m “too much”, gone too far, pushed too hard. 

I roil at the necessity my dual reality. I am not alone.  There are millions of me. 

As African Americans we deploy our duality for many reasons. We deploy our duality for those who don’t have as many opportunities -- defining our stability as their victoryWe deploy our duality for our children and families -- defining our stamina as their security. We deploy our duality for stature and acceptance -- defining our legitimacy by others standards. We deploy our duality for one less hurdle on one less day – our quality of life defined by America’s rigged scales.

I recognize and applaud a growing generation of African American men and women who are rejecting the duality that divides their worlds, diminishes their strength and decreases their impact. They are my daughters, my nephews and nieces, my friends. They seek and find lives and places that don’t require the “two-ness”that separates and belies wholeness and they refuse to comply with those that would.

On November 9, I felt in America’s choice a diminished regard for all that makes me real and important in this world.  And, given the new regime convening in Washington, I know that in days to come I will be forced to play my duality over and over and over again.

Unless...don’t. Unless I concede that now more than ever it is time to be all of who I am all of the time. Wholly, authentically -- prayerfully lovingly – me.  Allowing once and for all my two to become one. 

And believe that not only is my one okay, but is in fact just what the world needs. 

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

1 comment:

  1. Greetings, "myBELOVEDsister",

    I PRAY that ALL is WELL as you are receiving this message!!! THANKS for sharing so openly the current duel that lies within all of us regarding the duality that we must express in order to navigate many of the systems created by our society.

    Here's to the AWESOME *** AUTHENTIC *** WHOLE You emerging as the victor in the battle between the GODLY ORDAINED and CREATED SELF versus the SOCIETY-MANDATED SELF.

    Fortunately for you, those two selves operate with close range of each other so there is probably ONLY a small percentage of YOU that is expressed professionally that does not fully come from the authentic you and that is a BLESSING!!!

    I am enjoying your daughter's writing and now will qadd you to my preferred reading list.

    Here's to a HEALTHY THANKSGIVING for you and your family.


    MINISTER ken lazarus