Updated: Apr 12, 2022
Word from an interviewee:
In this society and as a Black woman, I am conditioned to always be working -- that my value comes from my work...
I always watched every Black woman around me constantly doing - doing for the family, doing for the job, doing for community. Cooking a meal for your family, washing the clothes, keeping the house clean - that's work. Then leaving that work and working for someone else just so you can provide for your family. And it's not always one job, it's like I work for this institution, this organization, this business, but I also have this other job on the side doing hair to make extra money or sitting with an elderly person to make extra money. Then once I finish that, well, I have to volunteer for the church. So that becomes another doing. So even your worship time becomes work. And I've never had the luxury or privilege in my youth (I'm getting there now) to understand that I can have someone else help me with these things. It's ok if I hire somebody to help me clean my house. But that is a new understanding for me. I try to get my mother to let me hire someone to help with her home and she says, "No, I can't let somebody else do that for me." If we're not working, something must be wrong. That's not a healthy way to live. You never recharge. You never get an opportunity to take time to listen to you. To be quiet and just be still and hear what's within you.
That's also rooted in slavery.
The Black woman had to care for her family, her owner's family, even nurse other people's children, and then still have the energy to care for her own community, not just her family. But how else do you survive in a system that doesn't want you to survive. You have to do those things. The survival of your people is not just based on the survival of your immediate family. But when family members are stolen, or snatched, or sold away, then your family expands beyond that nucleus to those who remain because the only way you survive is if you look after and care for each other. That community becomes important. That community becomes another family, like the Church would or has been.
It's rooted in us.
It leads to death.
One of my daughter's friends mothers who was very active, she was called on by the Governor to do things, she was her own business owner, she was a huge advocate for Black business ownership, at the beginning of the pandemic she was called to figure out how do we support people and keep businesses running. She was a woman with no health issues but was called on by others to keep doing, and one morning she didn't wake up. She died...
An America without racism would fully embrace everyone's talents, skills, experience, expertise for betterment of the whole community...
The value we see in each other has to change.