Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Sometimes rage isn't this deafening roar of thunder. Sometimes it's a quiet simmer that builds up over time like a little tea kettle left too long on the stove. I often think the way black women are treated is more like the latter. The expectation to stay poised, graceful, and palatable for others--admist everything thrown at us--doesn't leave much room to be angry. But I. Am. Angry.
That late night anger is how this little art piece was born.
Originally, I planned to leave it at the censored version. I told myself, "the world doesn't need more angst." But something about that late-night, quiet simmer of a rage; something about people and their comments; something about the confident look in her eyes compelled me to unleash it all.
I have gotten a lot of questions about this piece--specifically questions about its vulgarness. The simplest answer I can give is that it's merely an accumulation of labels and rage. You see, the strips, or rather labels, are things that people have said to me at some point in my life. They are literally the labels that people put on me and probably every other black woman out there. But, if you look closely, you can see very faintly in the back is what I usually want to say back but don't.
All the things people THINK is okay to say to you piles up. It tears you down over time. I can only be, ""poised, graceful, and palatable" for so long before hearing the same thing over and over gets to me! A great example is the strip that says, "...don't date black women". I've heard different iterations of this repeatedly, throughout my life:
"I'm just not into black women"
"Black women are just too much"
"Black women are just too fake with the fake hair and the fake nails"
"Maybe you can help me like black girls"
"I dont date black women because [insert whatever excuse here]"
(I could keep going but I won't.)
The challenge was finding a way to make it just one strip and not putting down all the different version I've heard. At the end of it, I realized the message was loud and clear: don't date black women!
This principle is so ingrained into American culture and media that even some black men believe it. The idea that black women are not worthy for one reason or another is constantly portrayed in media and reaffirms this American ideal. For a while, it was even ingrained in me: That something was wrong with me, that I'm not beautiful, and I'm not enough simply because I am black. But that's bullshit.
I've always tried to take these comments in stride. To be "poised, graceful, and palatable" , even turn it into a teaching moment; but, there are times where I don't have the patience. No matter what, when I call someone out on their problematic statements, I end up being the bitch. And I'm tired of it.
In the end, my logic was: let me be the bitch.