I’m laying here in bed, on a gorgeous Friday afternoon, sipping water with lime and twiddling my toes. Blaring on the tv is a video essay discussing the costume designs of last year’s Oscar nominees. As I take a sip of my water, two things occur to me: one, lime in water is much better than lemon and two, I could care less about the costume designs of Oscar nominees. So, I ask myself, “why am I even watching this? I mean, these costumes are nice but really, all these award shows are rigged anyways, so who really cares?” With a deep sigh I lay back down, feeling a little embarrassed at my own irritation over something so trivial. Then, like my own personal Jiminy Cricket, I hear my therapist’s voice in my head, “what are you really upset about?” I roll my eyes, suck my teeth and turn over in bed. Laying there, balling up my lips and blinking slowly I avoid confronting what I’m REALLY upset about. No…. what I’m REALLY, REALLY ticked about!
Several weeks ago, the Supreme Court overturned Affirmative Action based on race and ethnicity. Now this doesn’t affect me personally, I’m done with school and have collected my share of degrees, but it’s not about me. It’s about all those generations that come after me. Generation after generation of various races and ethnicities, who continue to live in this country as second-class citizens yet pay the taxes and carry the financial burdens of first-class citizens. As my eyes water, the powerlessness I feel at this realization is overwhelming. Like a hurricane, twisting and turning, I realize that this anger, this absolutely, all-consuming anger could erupt if I let it. If I let it….maybe, I should let it.
Flicking the tears from my eyes, and swallowing the fire in my throat, I smother the pain that lies within. I blink a few times and rub my forehead, chasing off the headache threatening to take stay at the nape of my neck and in my temples. I will myself to breathe, BREATHE, BREATHE. Then, I tell myself, to just let it go, it doesn’t even really matter. It doesn’t matter how many rights “we” lose, because it’s all a game and just like the Oscars, this game is rigged. Women’s Choice, Gay Marriage, Voting Rights Act, ICWA, Segregation, Interracial Marriage, Immigration, Reparations, Affirmative Action, Redlining, whatever it is, it really doesn’t even matter. It’s all a game in a system that is working exactly as it was designed too.
As a black woman in this country, I have no concern for our people’s ability to survive. We are experts at taking the crap thrown our way and somehow creating diamonds. Every other culture benefits from our creativity, our courage and our genius. We are the very definition of resilience. But resiliency comes with a price. Getting up from a fall doesn’t mean that the fall never happened, and it doesn’t mean that hitting the ground didn’t leave a mark. Resilience simply means that we as a people know how to thrive “in spite of.” But see, that’s the thing, as a Black woman living in America, I am tired of the “in spite of.” I am tired of getting up from each fight and I am tired of pushing through. I am exhausted. I cannot comprehend enduring another fight for basic human rights. I cannot march anymore, I cannot shout anymore and to Tupac’s shame, I can no longer keep my head up. I am tired and I cannot fathom another day of being strong. No really, forget being strong!
So, rolling over onto my back and grabbing the remote, I press play. Because even though I don’t care about Oscar nominee costume designs, it’s better than feeling the alternative. It’s better than feeling anything at all. At least laying here and watching this, I can sip my water and twiddle my toes and for just a moment, I can rest.
Carrie Lee is a writer and poet. Follow Carrie on social media (@Carrieleewrites) to read her weekly blog and to stay up to date on book releases and local book signings. Carrie’s first full length poetry book, Ascension, is currently available on Amazon. For more pieces similar to Carrie Lee’s ‘Forget Being Strong,’ click here.