Can We Talk About How You Are Talking About Black Women?

By Lisa Anderson 

So here’s the thing, as glad as I am about the results of Tuesday night’s election, I am definitely not feeling the way Black women have been spoken to and about since it happened. In particular, I am completely turned off by the whole, “let us be grateful” because “Black women saved us” narrative I have heard more than a few folks float past me in the last 48 hours.

Not that I question the significance of what my people did.  To be sure, without the power and presence of some serious organizing by Black folks in general and our sisters, mothers, aunties, and daughters in particular, Alabama and indeed the nation would have made way for yet another toxic white male “leader” poised to suffocate the life out of everything he touches.

This all too familiar pattern of Black women stepping up for justice notwithstanding, it is neither liberating nor loving to characterize the Black women who do this work as “saviors,” “fixers,” or as endowed with some kind of exceptional spiritual power that makes them especially well suited for the hard and sometimes life-threatening work the struggle for justice requires.

Whenever I have heard Black women supposedly so valorized, rather than feeling like we, and what we know and care about has been seen, I start to wonder if this nation will ever have the capacity to stop trying to turn Black women into “The Help.”  I wonder if this nation will ever be able to imagine that it might simply be for the sake of our own full flourishing that we show up; and that when we show up in that way we are doing and BE-ing MORE THAN ENOUGH.

Black women, working to stay alive in the belly of this beast called America is MORE THAN ENOUGH.

Black women, marshaling our agency to love ourselves, and our folks hard and well in a world that does not love us is MORE THAN ENOUGH.

We are no body’s saviors or spirit guides. We are not Gods, the “Conscience of America” or any other stand-ins. We are simply and gloriously human. This is true about the sisters in Alabama, and it is true of every Black woman justice warrior I have ever known.

I am living for the day when America can hear and begin to honestly grapple this truth!

Lisa Anderson is Vice President for Embodied Justice Leadership at Auburn Seminary and founding director of The Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle.

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