You’ll See Us and You’ll Hear Us

Living as a black woman in America means fighting for your life, your voice, and your agency.

Nothing that we’ve accomplished has been given to us, so when you see a black woman soaring and thriving instead of merely surviving, recognition needs to be given to the layers of bullshit she has been forced to bulldoze through to stand where she stands.

Basically, black women deserve a standing ovation.

In our society, black women have forever been treated as second class citizens. Our voices and our bodies have continued to be co-opted and diminished in an effort to keep us playing small, to keep us quiet, to keep us controlled, and to keep us seen and not heard. Stereotypes typically preceded our names and judgment is passed on us before we even open our mouths to speak. Our life stories are told before we get to tell them because, here in America, black women’s narratives are not our own.

You see, the bodies and voices of black women have always been controlled, from slave era to today, black women have continued to be seen as inferior and not worthy of the  “equality” afforded to white women.

We were the sexual property of white slave owners, raped without recourse and our reproductive systems treated as machines and experiments.

We make up 13 percent of the U.S. population yet account for 33 percent of all women killed by police.  

We are murdered by men at rates more than double what women of other races experience.  

We are close to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications.  

We participate in the workforce at higher rates than other women, yet we are most likely to live in poverty.

The list can go on and on, but the conclusion is this: black women have always been forced to protect ourselves and one another, and we have been required to fight tooth and nail for our portion. Nothing has come easy, nothing has been given, and that’s because we continue to demand to be seen and heard.

You'll see us, and you will hear us - it’s not optional.

We won’t sit and wait for you to grant us access.

We won’t sit and wait for you to give us the okay.

We won’t sit and wait for your to pay us what we’re worth.

We won’t sit and wait for you to provide us justice.

No.

You’ll see us, and you’ll hear us.

You’ll see our beauty, our diversity, and our strength.

You’ll hear our voices, our stories, and our songs.

We won’t take up less space. We won’t be quieter. We won’t stop demanding. We won’t stop commanding. We won’t stop speaking truth to power. We won’t stop loving. We won’t stuff down who we are to make you comfortable.

You'll hear us, and you'll see us.

Toi Smith