The Creation of the “Strong Black Woman”

Give birth to her in stale cold room
pain in her mother’s eyes
As she realizes she won’t see this through
They told her she was fine but her body knew
That heavy cramp, that empty pit
In the depths of her gut; right in her stomach
But they say the doctors, they know so much

Tiny feet crossing the dining floor
A tight-haired, deep-skinned, lively 4-year-old girl
Giddy with delight in the incense-filled one bedroom
Her grandma tells her to pipe down
as the grease pops on the stove and the timers sound
Her uncle picks her up and brings her into the secret space
Her eyes grow BIG, her head hangs and the smile vanishes from her face

Out on the pavement where children run and fall
She slams her fist into that yellow tetherball
She’s a champ amongst the school block crew
Hands wrapped in calluses of victories and few defeats
Who’s her next victim, her next effortless beat?
Blond hair blue eyes with hung face and tears in the sand.
But her dark skin beams in the sun, her smile feels bigger
Until she turn and hears the growing chants, one word: “NI**ER!”

His long curly black hair and skin like sand; hit by the perfect sun rays.
His voice is deep in the ears of a young teen,
poised hands around her hips amongst the high school scene.
Her stomach feels the breeze of butterfly wings
and a heart filled with future dreams.
Kids, a house, and maybe dog or two.
These make the sickness not as cruel,
as she leans into the trash behind the school.
He pats her back and tells her 18 is too young to be a father…
But how is 15 okay to be a mother?

She holds her son in her hands just like the day he was born
He looks just as small just as hopeful as before
He didn’t take a wrong turn. He never harmed a soul,
but they let him be shot down in front of her door
There are screams and drums filling the night air,
blank eyes and open mouths they all stare
The warmth of his blood spreads upon her chest like a blazing sea
The shrills and the cries rage through her insides
how could this be he was only 16.

She glances at her cane and the growing wrinkles in her hands
What happened to dreams of sunflower fields and toes in the sand?
To kids laughter echoing the halls and Sunday dinners together?
When did they all out grow each other?
They make speeches in her honor, to a ‘strong black woman,’
it’s the same old dance that same familiar song
but all she can think, “If I had suffered less would I still be as strong?”

by kyraiverson

My name is Kira and I am a San Fransisco Bay Area native. I love both photography and writing; wether that be poetry, spoken word, creative writing, or story telling. Words and pictures have alway defined me as a young women, and at an early age I would always seek to merge these two outlets into one. After majoring in journalism with a minor in photography, I found out I had lupus. My creative outlet from here became more of a process to care for my self, and a journey to healing. Currently I find myself navigating the everyday life of living with a chronic illness while still trying to maintain a sense of normality in life and love. Thank you for walking this course with me.


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