Hey, Black man, can you sing a Black girl’s song?

I know you see the news showing us dying at the hands of your brethren, so why are you silent? We start movements for you when white men kill you. We help you shut down freeways when police officers target you. We show up at the polls to help you make history. We sacrifice our careers to strengthen the Black family. We are on the front lines fighting white supremacy and demanding equity.

But where are you? Where are you when Black men are beating and killing us? Where are you when the police are targeting us?

From where we sit, you look like you’re making plans to be our new master. You don’t care about the pain we are experiencing, as long as you’re the ones allowed to inflict it. After all, we’re just property for you to own and objectify, right? We’re inferior to you, so of course, we’re simply here to carry your burdens and elevate your successes. Why should you care we’re endangered too?

No, you can’t sing a Black girl’s song because that means voicing a verse in which you are the abuser. You’d have to sing words admitting—like white men—you beat and rape us. It’s easier to just sing a song written by a pedophile instead.

Naw you can’t sing a Black girl’s song…

Hey, white woman, can you sing a Black girl’s song?

I know you see your men terrorizing us, so why are you silent? We can’t even take public transportation with our sisters without being stabbed to death. We help run your political campaigns to aid in you making history. We sacrifice time with our families to help you raise yours. We stand with you against patriarchy and misogyny.

But where are you? Where are you when white supremacy and patriarchy merge? Where are you when your laws take our children away from us?

Oh, I know where you are. You’re voting white supremacists into office. You’re following us in parks and terrorizing our children on street corners to demand permits. You’re calling the police on us when we dare to fall asleep on the college campuses we attend.

No, you can’t sing a Black girl’s song because then you’d have to sing a chorus of your own false innocence, your performative activism. You’d have to taste our pain on your tongue, and we know how much you hate seasoning.

Naw you can’t sing a Black girl’s song…

Can somebody, anybody sing a Black girl’s song?

And not a Black Girl Magic song… I’m not talking about grooving to Beyonce’s latest dance hit. No, I’m talking about a song of disappointment and rage and pain. I’m talking about listening to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” on repeat and really sitting with the words. I’m talking about seeing all the varieties of that strange fruit… It’s NOT just Black men and boys dangling from trees. See, too, the Black women and girls who hung beside them. See our bellies swollen with the promise of new life. See our bellies cut open and our children ripped out.

Will somebody, anybody sing a Black girl’s song?

A Black girl’s song holding a Black man responsible, without lifting him up.

A Black girl’s song demanding a white woman listen, without holding her hand.

A Black girl’s song inspired by our gaping bloody wounds.

A Black girl’s song focused entirely on OUR pain and OUR struggle.

A song of exhaustion—from wiping the tears off white women’s face

of weariness—from cleaning the blood from Black men’s bodies.

…while our tears dry on faces unwiped and our blood seeps from wounds uncleaned.

A song of dreams deferred and promises broken.

A Black girl’s song that tells the truth.

This post is inspired by the following poem from Ntozake Shange’s book, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf

“somebody/ anybody

sing a black girl’s song

bring her out

to know herself

to know you

but sing her rhythms

carin/ struggle/ hard times

sing her song of life

she’s been dead so long

closed in silence so long

she doesn’t know the sound

of her own voice

her infinite beauty

she’s half-notes scattered

without rhythm/ no tune

sing her sighs

sing the song of her possibilities

sing a righteous gospel

let her be born

let her be born

& handled warmly.”

This post originally appeared on Mamademics.


About the author: Danielle Slaughter is a wife, mom, teacher, crafty mompreneur, and doctoral student, who encourages parents to raise social justice advocates. She shares her experience navigating motherhood while finding her place in the academy on Mamademics.com. Danielle is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Arbor and Georgia State University (GSU). She is a Detroit native currently residing in Atlanta with her husband, son, and pet turtle. Danielle is working on a doctorate in English at GSU and hopes to finish in 2017. She is a contributor for the Huffington Post, winner of Type-A Parent’s 2015 We Still Blog Awards, and a BlogHer ’16 VOTY honoree.


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