…Difficult relationships come into our lives for a reason. No one would choose them, certainly. But if we let them, they can teach us how to be flexible with others and more forgiving.
I DO NOT forgive Dylann Roof, a racist terrorist whose name I hate saying or knowing. I have no immediate connection to what happened in Charleston, S.C., last week beyond my humanity and my blackness, but I do not foresee ever forgiving his crimes, and I am wholly at ease with that choice.
Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and forgiving heart. Be the one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.
–Marvin J. Ashton
(via Realistic Optimist)
You are goodness and mercy and compassion and understanding. You are peace and joy and light. You are forgiveness and patience, strength and courage, a helper in time of need, a comforter in time of sorrow, a healer in time of injury, a teacher in times of confusion. You are the deepest wisdom and the highest truth; the greatest peace and the grandest love. You are these things. And in moments of your life you have known yourself to be these things. Choose now to know yourself as these things always.
—Neale Donald Walsch
There is so often an immediate need to reframe any incident of racism BY POINTING fingers at the people of color who may have been affected by it for, either, provoking the abuse or failing to respond properly—-we are wrong when we riot, wrong when we forgive, we are almost always wrong. For me, this essay was just one of many examples of how difficult it is for even the most Black-loving us to truly point a finger at White supremacy as an institution, ever. We can call out individual racists, we can call Black people “cowards,” but we can rarely engage the totality of racism—-the structures that empower and embolden a Sterling (and make him compelling to a young, beautiful woman of color who shouldn’t want to be within ten feet of him) and that prevent the Clippers, hell, the whole NBA, from knowing both the significance of a well-organized boycott and that they are powerful enough to enact one.
Black folks are always low-hanging fruit. It’s much easier for us to attack Chris Paul and V. Stiviano for not being principled enough than it is for us to challenge the relative silence from NBA front offices, or for those of us who only found out who Donald Sterling is because of this incident to ask why he wasn’t run out the NBA after his gross housing discrimination practices were brought to light. It’s always easier for everyone, from Donald Trump (not linking—-he said something awful, as he as apt to do), to Kareem Abdul Jabar (who seems to pity Sterling even while taking him to task), to Homeboy Sandman to see the shortcomings of us—-real or imagined. And that, friends, is how White supremacy soldiers on. Not because we are “cowards,” but because it is widely believed in and outside our ranks that we are always wrong.
—Jamilah Lemieux, “Clippers Controversy and Black Blaming, Again”
(via the dopest ethiopienne)
As women, when we’re children we’re taught to enter the world with big hearts. Blooming hearts. Hearts bigger than our damn fists. We are taught to forgive – constantly – as opposed to what young boys are taught: Revenge, to get ‘even.’ Our empathy is constantly made appeals to, often demanded for. If we refuse to show kindness, we are reprimanded. We are not good women if we do not crush our bones to make more space for the world, if we do not spread our entire skin over rocks for others to tread on, if we do not kill ourselves in every meaning of the word in the process of making it cozy for everyone else. It is the heat generated by the burning of our bodies with which the world keeps warm. We are taught to sacrifice so much for so little. This is the general principle all over the world.
By the time we are young women, we are tired. Most of us are drained. Some of us enter a lock of silence because of that lethargy. Some of us lash out. When I think of that big, blooming heart we once had, it looks shriveled and worn out now. When I was teaching, I had a young student named Mariam. She was only 11 years old. Some boy pushed her around in class, called her names, broke her spirit for the day. We were sitting under a chestnut tree on a field trip and she asked me if a boy ever hurt me. I told her many did and I destroyed them one by one. I think that’s the first time she ever heard the word ‘destroyed.’ We rarely teach our girls to fight back for the right reasons.
Take up more space as a woman. Take up more time. Take your time. You are taught to hide, censor, move about without messing up decorum for a man’s comfort. Whether it’s said or not, you’re taught balance. Forget that. Displease. Disappoint. Destroy. Be loud, be righteous, be messy. Mess up and it’s fine – you are learning to unlearn. Do not see yourself like glass. Like you could get dirty and clean. You are flesh. You are not constant. You change. Society teaches women to maintain balance and that robs us of our volatility. Our mercurial hearts. Calm and chaos. Love only when needed; preserve otherwise.
Do not be a moth near the light; be the light itself. Do not let a man’s ocean-big ego swallow you up. Know what you want. Ask yourself first. Decide your own pace. Decide your own path. Be cruel when needed. Be gentle only when needed. Collapse and then re-construct. When someone says you are being obscene, say yes I am. When they say you are being wrong, say yes I am. When they say you are being selfish, say yes I am. Why shouldn’t I be? How do you expect a woman to stand on her two feet if you keep striking her at the ankles.
There are multiple lessons we must teach our young girls so that they render themselves their own pillars instead of keeping male approval as the focal point of their lives. It is so important to state your feelings of inconvenience as a woman. We are instructed to tailor ourselves and our discomfort – constantly told that we are ‘whining’ and ‘nagging’ and ‘complaining too much.’ That kind of silence is horribly violent, that kind of insistence upon uniformly nodding in agreement to your own despair, and smiling emptily so no man is ever uncomfortable around us. Male-entitlement dictates a woman’s silence. If we could see the mimetic model of the erasure of a woman’s voice, it would be an incredibly bloody sight.
On a breezy July night, my mother and I were sleeping under the open sky. Before dozing off, I told her that I think there is a special place in heaven where all wounded women bury their broken hearts and their hearts grow into trees that only give fruit to the good and poison to the bad. She smiled and said Ameen. Then she closed her eyes.
—Mehreen Kasana, A Woman of War
(via because i am a woman)
All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way.
[love letter to self]
i don’t think so. but, i forgive you, girl, who tallied stretch marks into reasons why no one should get close. i forgive you, silly girl, sweet breath, decent by default. i forgive you for being afraid. did everything betray you? even the rain you love so much made rust out of your jewellery? i forgive you, soft spoken girl speaking with fake brash voice, fooling no one. i see you, tender even on your hardest days. i forgive you, waiting for him to call, i forgive you, the diets and the cruel friends. especially for that one time you said ‘i fucking give up on love, it’s not worth it, i’d rather be alone forever’. you were just pretending, weren’t you? i know you didn’t mean that. your body, your mouth, your heart, made specifically for loving. sometimes the things we love, will kill us, but weren’t we dying anyway? i forgive you for being something that will eventually die. perishable goods, fading out slowly, little human, i wouldn’t want to be in a world where you don’t exist.
–warsan shire, “and were you being good to yourself?”
Every time we organize, we love each other, we forgive each other, we heal each other, every time we name this shit, we are a threat. Breathe, play, fuck, rest, resist sisters, we are beautiful threats.
(via knowledge is black power)