won’t you celebrate with me-Lucille Clifton
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
As long as there is a world that seeks to erase Black folk, we will never be ‘doing too much.’ In this observation of ‘too much’ who quantifies this? Who can say what is ‘too much’ or why it is ‘too much’. Now, I am well aware of what the phrase means. I know what the words in their individual power mean. What I am not understanding, or what I desire to understand is how these words are so apt to be affixed to Black women! I truly do not believe the world realizes just how and how hard it is to be Black and woman–daily. To have everything from your skin tone, hairstyle, speech pattern and whether or not your knees are crusty examined. I’m sure there are no new contagions studied with such scrutiny!
Have I said this phrase to more than one woman I know? I sure have. Have I said this phrase when a situation was already out of hand, and someone’s behavior (whether Black or White) exacerbated it? Yes! The phrase ‘too much’ is itself an exacerbation! Yet–it is the behavior I want to see change, not the essence. Therein lies the rub! The current adage is we [Black women] will always be too loud for a world determined not to hear us. So, the idea of being ‘too much’ manifests in success, in victories, in triumphing over something set, thought, and set out to kill us! I must become ‘too much’ in order to be seen, heard, fed, to feed, and to thrive!
I must become my own hero because none is coming! I have accepted the title, own the space of ‘being too much’ or being seen as ‘doing too much’. I accept that there are those whom will see out that space I occupy or they will flee from it! It is not my job to acclimate to a world on a continuous basis that only seeks to destroy or deconstruct me. I have decided to celebrate–because even in graveyards, there are trees.
I have purposed myself to stretch towards that light, the power, the space of knowing all I am is valued, necessary, formidable and most of all undeniable.