By Tekita Bankhead
I wish the world stopped when a Black woman cries.
I wish that my tears weren’t pushed into corners and hushed away. I wish they were accurately regarded and respected as a natural, normal response. The tears of Black women keep us sane in a world that insists everything is all in our heads. We’re not making it up. The pain is real. We shouldn’t have to be the only ones who care about it.
My tears don’t protect me. My tears can’t protect my family. My brothers, my children, my community. No one who looks like me is safe. How can we not cry?
Even when we bring new life into the world, my medical caretakers don’t see my tears as a valid reason for pain relief. Black women die because the American healthcare system ignores our tears.
The boundaries of my personal space are not respected through my tearful pleas. They touch us anyway, even during the innocence of our girlhood. They violate our holy temples and threaten the core of our self-concept. But we damn sure better wipe our faces before we face the world again. My emotional expression is not given the benefit of the doubt nor does it receive white compassion.
My tears do not command unconditional empathy or forgiveness. The world blames me for the constant pain it inflicts upon my life. America doesn’t hug the Black woman through her breakdown or root for her breakthrough. Instead, we are told to pray through and get over our sobs. No consoling. No soothing. Not one soul apologizes for making Black women cry.
Though my tears do make national headlines, I become the face of grief, loss, and sorrow. My tears are never depicted to the public as fear, triumph, or joy. We pack our tears away into hardened souls that are tasked with carrying the generations of trauma inflicted by white America. I wish my tears could repair the Black families that white tears ripped apart. I wish my tears could bring back the innocent lives white tears stole from us.
I wish my tears weren’t interpreted as a reflection of my professional competence. My tears are reflected in performance appraisals as “unapproachable” or not being a “team player.” Meanwhile, the white tears in virtually any arena prompt policy, production, and promotions. My tears are erased; theirs are addressed. The reality of my tears is passion and commitment, but they will never be understood by a world committed to misconstruing my voice or my aptitude.
Black women’s tears are deafening screams in a world designed to continuously silence and dispose of her. America marches furiously past the tears of Black women without ever looking back to lend a hand in her pursuit to keep our nation afloat.
Our tears petition to a God of our likeness for help that often feels unlikely. Our helpless and hopeless tears continue to fall. We are exhausted. Yet, we are still working through tearful eyes because it’s all we know to do. Tears run through our veins alongside the DNA of great women who progressed beyond their pain. They fought for a just society that was barely visible through their tear-filled eyes. They rested on tear-stained pillows to rise for the next battle. They channeled their tears into power.
But I’d be lying if I said we are not tired as hell.
Will anyone ever dry the tears of Black women?
Tekita Bankhead is the Creator/Editor-in-Chief of the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tekita aspires to live a life that glorifies God above all and prides herself on being unapologetically authentic. In her spare time, Tekita loves reading, writing, traveling, cooking, concerts, sharing doggie cuddles with Roxie, and spending time with loved ones. She is an avid music lover, prefers 90s R&B over most new music, and is best friends (in her head) with Brandy and Beyoncé. Her Pinterest boards are filled with natural hair tips, quirky quotes, and every wedding pin ever created (What can I say, Real Gs love romance!). Connect with Tekita on Instagram and Twitter @tekitaapplebum.