“Amplify” is a series of reader-submitted reflections that seek to shed light on the unique life experiences of Black women. If you are interested in submitting a post to The Pedestal Project, please email or contact us under the “Connect” tab!
Lacrisha Honeybrown, MA, LCASA, NCC is a writer, artivist, and therapist located in Raleigh, North Carolina. When she’s not seeing clients, she spends some of her time writing articles focused on mental health and wellness to raise awareness of holistic health issues, particularly for undeserved communities. Her articles have been shared widely across the internet including on Blavity and HBCU Digest. We were honored to have her grace the Pedestal Project with her skill, passion, and insight. Check out her article below!
Our humanity has been placed on a pedestal. Terms and conditions including extraordinary poise, endurance, and silence. Perfection of the most refined and exquisite quality. We do not get angry. We do not get tired. We are Super-Human Superheroes and shall behave as such. Duh!
Except, they banned us from wearing the red cape; and when that did not satisfactorily extinguish the magic of our being, elastic bodysuits were banned, too.
Justice was outlawed as well as the right to negotiate or object. Confusion sets in upon the Black Woman still daring to open her mouth at all. We were boxed in and put on display, but the Shushers became exhausted from cleaning up the glass ceilings we kept shattering, resorting to more sophisticated means of confinement.
This is how we arrive at the current treatment of the Black Woman in the workplace and, anywhere really, besides those protected spaces she cultivated to safely release and rejuvenate.
I was aiming to write a defensive narrative “raceplaining” that “we have emotions too” but the truth is, explanations have become very “water is wet” for me, and I am uninterested. I could vehemently assert that Black Women are wrongfully scrutinized in the workplace about their hair, bodies, wardrobe, posture, volume, and facial expressions while citing mainstream or viral examples. I could delve into how literally wearing the exact same outfit as someone less curvy is viewed as outrageous. I could vent about that time last week in which I was advised “you should smile” while I was at work, in the privacy of my own office, intently auditing time-sensitive clinical documentation before my next appointment arrived or a crisis pulled me away from the task. Because I obviously left my office door slightly open to appear more approachable, only to invite personality diagnoses stemming from me…working? It is both perplexing and enraging that I should have my brow furrowed and eyes focused as I concentrated on my work. Be happy, Black Woman! You should be smiling at your computer screen for the comfort of those who walk by and curiously peek into your office! I could discuss how deciding to wear a wig to work for the first time almost gave me an anxiety attack, but the laziness of being over the process of meticulously twisting and plucking my natural hair only to feel debilitating self-conscious won, and I threw that wig onto my two-braided head with relief like it was the finest hair-hat in the land. I could unpack the cognitive dissonance of the aforementioned act as a self-proclaimed “woke” Black woman who loves herself and her hair.
Personally, I embrace being “different.” “Other” in a lot of ways. Quite frankly, I am abnormal and surprised that I am allowed to walk around unmonitored in public. Who eats macaroni and cheese and Oreo ice-cream for breakfast, washed down with a Bolthouse Farms “Green Goodness” smoothie!? Inconsistently healthy Me and probably hundreds of other people, right? Possibly because we are human and participating in adulting to the best of our abilities? The struggle is real. I said (technically wrote) all of that to say, let’s go along with this Super-Human thing and switch the narrative up a little. Let’s call fear and indignation, specifically fear and indignation about our Excellence, what it is.
We worked twice as hard because we were warned that it was required. When we exceed expectations, new rules are created. When the new rules are followed, we are still subjected to intentionally selective discretion and other abuses of power. However, Superheroes are supposed to tolerate the build-up of microaggressions better than mere mortals.
So yes, I was going to mostoppressedintersectionofracegenderandsexismplain why I am drained of this narrative, but the truth is that I am actually starting to become flattered. Y’all want us to forget so badly that we are a rare magic. To become skeptical and flail. To request rather than know our worth. To request rather than demand. Take. Proudly wear our crowns.
Your Tenacity launches the devil into trembling.
Your Confidence cracks open the colonizer’s craving to control.
Your Potential alerts posers to run for cover.
Your sheer Beauty beckons offense, attack, then imitation—a special wonder of the world.
Your Resilience is rivaled only by the sun.
They are petrified by your shine.
Wink and proceed with twinkling.
You are a Light. Your blaze cannot be doused.
Y’all owe us an apology. We owe ourselves an apology for the apologies we did not demand. And if we don’t get it? Don’t get it twisted, we don’t need it. We just need you to know that we still have not and will not be shook out of acknowledging what we are owed and what we deserve. We’ll be alright, and make a way out of no way, because that’s what we have BEEN been doing, word to Harriet and the nameless Superheroes who have paved the way for our illumination.
We are The Way. We are Everything.