Who Will Weep for Us?
At the thought of George Floyd, I wept. Then I remembered Trayvon, Eric, Ahmad, Amadou and Tamir in random order. I remembered others who have been named and those who have not. I wept again. I wept for them as if they were my own kin. I wept over the plight of Black men and boys. Wept for the children who cannot be children. Uncontrollably… consumed with grief… I wept anew. Like Jesus wept, I wept. No one should have to endure the heinous state sanctioned violence against Black bodies. Ever. I swear, I am beginning to believe that a Black woman’s super-power is the ability to endure heartache, loss, and trauma.
Truth is, if you really want to know a Black woman’s super-power, it is the ability to be invisible. Sandwiched between the savage killings of Ahmad Arbery and George Floyd was the callous murder of Breonna Taylor, an appendage in national news and in the hearts and minds of most Americans. I in no way minimize the intentional, brutal murders of Black men. I am simply acknowledging that Black women also exist in a tenuous state. Many times, as I cry for Black men and boys, I wonder who will cry for us?
Black women are the most highly churched population in the US. According to Pew Research Center, we fill church pews at a rate of 66% and higher in most houses of worship. Yet, we are practically invisible there, too. Unless you are Jesus’ mamma, Esther or Ruth, women’s stories, if told at all, are told in ways that keep us silent and ashamed, damned, and disparaged, undone and unseen. Not only are Black women routinely killed, raped, and beaten by police, there is no public outcry about our victimization. Not by society, not by the churches we serve so faithfully. We go, we work, we give so much that Black women neglect their own health. We have the lowest statistical outcomes in health and well-being in the nation. Where, in the name of sweet, Black Jesus, is the abundant life that He came to give us? So, as I weep for Black men and boys, I wonder who will weep for us? Let the statistics tell our stories.
· 46 percent of African American women over 20 years of age have hypertension, only 31 percent of white women and 29 percent of Latino women in the same age group do.
· African American women have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer. Every year 1,722 African American women die from this disease.
· Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections are 19 times higher for African American women than white women.
· African American women represent 64 percent of new AIDS diagnoses among women.
· African American women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes and have the highest rate of premature births.
· About 29.1 percent of African American females are victimized by intimate partner violence in their lifetime (rape, assault, or stalking).
· African American females experience intimate partner violence at a rate of 35% more than that of white women and about 2.5 times the rate of women of other races. However, they are less likely than white women to use social services, battered women’s programs or go to the hospital because of domestic violence.
· While white women earn 78.1 cents to the dollar when compared with white, non-Latino men, African American women earn 64 cents.
· The poverty rate for African American women is 28.6 percent compared to white, non-Latino women which is 10.8 percent.
· African American and Latina women are 3 times more likely to be incarcerated than white women.
Let that sink in. Is there no Balm in Gilead? We are weeping and working. Working our fingers to the proverbial bone for our families, our communities, and our churches, but who will cry for us? We are dying from invisibility. We are suffocating from bearing the weight and myth of being strong Black women. As we grieve and lament the violence unleashed on our brothers, who will shed a tear for us? As we agonize over the affliction of our children, who will mourn for us? While wailing at the horrific violence, the bloody carnage that surrounds us all, who will lament for us? We are brutalized and traumatized daily. Not only by a system that believes we are of little value, but by those we love and care for – those we cherish and long for. It is equally important that we who weep for others must also attend to ourselves. We must intentionally create safe, sacred spaces where we can cry, heal, recover, and restore our wholeness. After all, our black lives matter and if we don’t save us, no one else will.