Can Black Women BREATHE!?

Days ago, instead of celebrating the release of her new song, music video, and collaboration with Cardi B., Lizzo ended up crying on Instagram because of the hate folks have been spewing at her over said song and collaboration. Online trolls further mocked Lizzo for feeling emotional and crying about the unwarranted online abuse. 

No matter what we do and how relatively benign it is, Black women cannot seem to catch a break. Especially when you are a fat Black woman. And when you add the extra layer of fatphobia to the mix, suddenly you're a "Mammy." When you are a plus-size Black woman, and you smile wrong, you are a so-called Mammy. You cough wrong… Mammy. You exhibit joy… Mammy. You dance…Mammy. You celebrate successes…Mammy and prop for the white gaze. You cry, “Get over it, Mammy!” 

The ridicule comes from every direction, even from other Black people when you don’t appeal to certain sensibilities. The thing that struck me the most was people's annoyance at Lizzo for being open about how the onslaught of cyber abuse was starting to chip away at her self-esteem. The anger at seeing Black women respond deeply to things that adversely affect us is so egregious and absurd. It just highlights this strange need to put Black women in our places for daring to stand out, center, love, and advocate for ourselves. 

To further illustrate the kink for knocking Black women down several pegs, just look at the outrage Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Megan Thee Stallion, and Sha’Carri Richardson seem to prompt in people because they've either chosen to center their mental health over rabid sports fandoms, make strategic professional decisions after being thrown under the bus by colleagues, name and shame their abusers, speak out against misogynoir, or champion themselves despite not placing first in a race. And because they refuse to contort themselves to the specifications of a peanut gallery full of spectators who can only dream of accomplishing what these dynamic Black women have done in their careers. This unprovoked indignation also indicates people’s need to constantly police Black women’s emotions and voices if we express any feeling other than how “strong”  people like to tout us as being. 

Listen, Black women, are human beings. And if any of us feels crying, we have the right to CRY. If Black women want to be petty and harmlessly go low instead of going high for a brief second, we should be able to occasionally do that when we've reached the final straw of civility in the face of vituperative verbal attacks. When Black women are fed the fuck up, we have the right to declare that sentiment. If we want to be basic and aren't in the mood to be exceptional, we should be able to do that too, especially since other women get rewarded for being average. If Black women sense that our mental health is in a precarious state, we have the absolute right to check out and regroup when we need to. A job will keep operating business as usual in our absence since most employers treat their employees like expendable cogs in a wheel anyway. Also, just because we finish last doesn’t mean we can’t give ourselves a pep talk and pop a little shit. Isn't this the nature of competition? Whether it’s coming from outside sources or other Black folks, I wish people would just leave Black women alone and stop trying to suffocate every facet of our being.

And since spewing vitriol at Black women doesn't fully shrink our determination, what is the end goal other than to highlight how miserable and despicable some of you are? Black women have earned the right to exist within the breadth of our full existence.