Diamond Reynolds, How Tired You Must Be

“It’s okay I’m right here with you,” she says as she holds her mother, Diamond Reynolds, close. As I watched the video of Diamond Reynolds and her daughter in the back of a police car, mother handcuffed and daughter scared after the death of father/fiancé Philando Castile, I was broken. I was reminded of this burden of being a black woman. The need to be both comforter and fighter. It’s frightening, it’s exhausting and as I watched Ms. Reynolds crying I saw her shield fall. We often see black women as superhuman, capable of carrying multiple roles simultaneously because they have to. They do all this, while still being disrespected, unappreciated, and unacknowledged. But, in that moment we saw again the weight of being black and being woman be too much, be too hard, be too painful.

To be a black woman is to know love, to fight love, to fear love, and to be ultimately defined by love. The black woman is a being marked by sacrifice. For generations she has been marked by her ability to suffer for her children, her people. She has been the mother of a people who have looked to her for strength and in the midst of beatings, servitude, and subjugation she has been the rock; fully aware that with the confused and tired eyes of black men and children she would serve as their source of comfort. She would be that layer of peace among troubled waters.

Fear, though, is never far from sight. Her fears are dripped with an undeniable love that forced her to hold tighter for her children, to uplift that black man towards his own liberation at the cost of her own. She has taught her daughter the same. They have grown to know the necessity of caring for a crying child, of bringing them close to their bosoms aware that their body are a life source. They have grown to open their legs in anticipation for those young bodies to gather near, ready for moms hands to navigate their way through politicized hair. They will be taught to be tame, to be strong without ever letting that strength overpower the image of the strong black man. They will eventually learn this is a life. It is not the strong black man that has solidified black families for generations. It is the love that oozes from every pore of the black mother, black grandmother, the black woman that consecrates black love. It is the quiet fortitude of the black woman that uplifts a people and brings them together. She lives with this burden constantly. There can be no moments of weakness because those weary eyes are always watching. Always waiting because for her to crack means the rest comes undone. So in the quiet spaces of her unspoken sisterhood she weeps. The world is not safe as much as her children find safety in her. She is not the world. She cannot protect them, she cannot pretend that the white gaze, the male gaze that has come to define her existence will not alter her people as well. So she looks to her sisterhood. She feeds on their love as much as they feed on hers. She teaches her daughters to do the same.

At four-years-old, Philando Castile’s daughter has learned this. She has seen her father shot dead in front of her eyes because of fear elicited by his skin color. She has seen her father’s killer go free and she has seen the crack in her mother’s shield. She has learned that like her mother she will have to be strong. She has learned that people count on her; feed on her strength. She will be exhausted, she will feel disappointed, maybe even broken but evermore she will persevere.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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