It is a curious thing to exist in this Black female body. We are the very embodiment of intersectionality. Navigating the attendant oppression that comes along with our Black and female identities and the multitudinous ways they converge and constrain us is a birthright thrust upon us by virtue of the fact that we were born Black and female. A troika of mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude is the prerequisite for Black women’s survival in America. We are seen and simultaneously silenced; we are revolutionaries and yet restricted; we are creators and yet co-opted; we are treated as mules, only to be marginalized and erased. As for the loads we carry, they are credited to another—to anyone, for that matter—so long as the Black woman is not acknowledged for doing the work others shirked.
We are expected to saw, sand, and assemble the table, yet we are barred from taking a seat at the very table we built. When we attempt to take our rightful place, we are met with bemusement and incredulity from those who harbor nothing but contempt for us, as if we are absurd for seeking to occupy the space we created. In the words of Solange Knowles, we’ve “got a lot to be mad about, but [we’re] not really allowed to be mad.” Under the piercing white gaze, we are deemed to be promiscuous and infantile, because in their illusory world the scorching sun of antebellum Jezebel and Mammy stereotypes beat down on the bodies of Black women, casting an endless shadow that confines us to what Chimamanda Adichie calls the danger of a single story.
Though we eschew the white fabulists’ narrative about Black womanhood by glorying in our agency, the yoke of misogynoir is placed firmly on our neck by society and by some Black men who have imbibed the fallacious notion that Black women are either “too much” or “not enough” when measured against a faulty cultural conception of womanhood that is centered on white women. Black women are pressed on every side and are tried in the crucible of white supremacy; yet we come out as black gold—leaving a trail of Black Girl Magic wherever our feet tread. The joy that we have did not come from the world; it is otherworldly, kept secure from erosion, and it cannot be taken away. Embracing this glorious reality, we smile at the future, continuing to be the dynamic women we were created to be: soft and strong, joyful and sorrowful, vulnerable and valiant. No longer satisfied with asking for a seat at the table, we are laying claim to what is ours, and we want the whole damn table.