Emotional Labour

‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ Austin Channing Brown

My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment of anger, hence all the mistake. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s good for the soul, or good for me to let the anger out that I’m carrying around, moment to moment, daily.

It’s probably one of the rare occasions, I’ve allowed myself to vent as I have learned through years and experiences being an angry Black woman gets me nowhere. But the flip side, where has being an amicable and amenable Black woman got me? Probably well down the road of mental health issues and questionable wellbeing.

A week on, and I’m still sick and tired of the things playing out in my life as I move through this world in the body of a Black woman but still not recognised or treated as a fellow human being. I could even say that things have gotten worse as with time, more slights and ignorance and lack of awareness of their actions and inactions accumulate. Continue to accumulate as I get older but also as I attempt and fight to be met eye to eye with others as a human being deserving of living and striving within this world.

I oscillate between exhaustion and anger. Being depleted and fired up. And the worse thing of all is those that cause this suffering are oblivious to it. And even when I take the time and energy to point it out to them, how their actions are being unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and not seeing the situation in it’s totality they get on the defensive, do not engage with the issue, but deflect it away with comments like, ‘ I won’t engage with you when you’re being so aggressive.’

I stand by my post Black Fatigue. I just wish I’d mentioned emotional labour too. I can see now, as I reach 50 years old this year, that I have spent my lifetime trying to fit in. That means trying to be white. That is the only way to be let / given an inch in this game/ society/ life. I’m expected to be white because this is the cultural way of being. White people believe being white is right and good. Anything ‘other’ is wrong and should do everything right to become more white.

Now as I continue to question this standard, the way of operating in society, in the world, I’m going to become more and more angry and exhausted because I’m constantly being judged for being a Black female in a world made for whiteness. Everywhere I turn, in the street, on social media, on the TV, my self-esteem is being chipped away while living with the disparities in job opportunities, health care, education, and in the justice system. And I’m supposed to be happy and grateful when someone white talks about diversity and offers a crumb as if it’s taking a risk.
And then if I have the audacity to ask for more, there’s tears.

I’ve taken a break from social media as I was falling into the comparison spiral trap as well as putting pressure on myself to produce. But I see now what I was doing was performing. This is my pain and this is my joy. I was striving for the viewer, for you, to see me, treat me, like a fellow human being. It appears it’s the only dance I know. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be white at the same time as trying to convince/explain/ argue that I’m worthy, that I’m a fully functioning and feeling human being who deserves to be here for your discarded crumb. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

I’m taking back control and my power so I can control my rage. Not to protect others but myself. I’ve got to make sure now that my anger doesn’t destroy me. I’m putting in emotional labour with me, for me now.

Day 15 – NaPoWriMo – Musician

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Photo by Autumn Dunne on Pexels.com

Ted Blaine, musician
After Gabrielle Calvocoressi

I journey back sometimes
and remember when I was riding
up front in that hot metal can.

I could see her in the rear mirror,
patting down here hair
and fixing her lipstick.

I should have done things
differently, little things,
like carried her bags

into the service elevator.
Let her know that I didn’t
think it was right, the way

they treated them Negroes.
One time, I heard her humming
while watching the world whizz by.

It was awful sweet the way
she could drift off into the music.
My mama was the same when she

had breath in her body. Sometimes
I dream of singing. Mostly
it’s that Billie’s comes back.

We’re traveling in the hot tin bus
but we’re upfront together
and she’s telling me

a thing or two about improvising
as the trumpet runs off
dancing with the piano.

Day 12 – NaPoWriMo – Triolet

Today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo is to write a triolet. I love just saying the word, ‘triolet’, never mind writing one.
The triolet form involves a fixed rhyming and line scheme which is pretty simple once you get your head around it. The first line is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines; the second line is repeated in the final line; there are only five original lines, and the rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB.

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Triolet: shooting at blossom is a spectacle

Why isn’t one bullet too many times to shoot anybody?
It’s a crime for cherry blossom to fall too soon,
How much gratuitous violence is taken by a blackbody?
Why isn’t one bullet too many times to shoot anybody?
Translucent and tender like the flesh of a fledging chickadee,
we are all bone and blood and teeth under the white of the moon.
Why isn’t one bullet too many times to shoot anybody?
It’s a crime to see the cherry blossom fall too soon.

Best of the Net 2019

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While away from here, I received some good news that really reaffirmed my decision to pick up the pen again and write the way I want to write.
The lovely Annest Gwilym over at Nine Muses Poetry has nominated one of my poems for Best of the Net 2019 award.
Check out the poem which has been nominated ‘The Last Black Women’ here.
And I’m not fake bragging here but I’m just honoured to be nominated as this was unexpected and Annest had over 400 poems to choose from to come up with a short list of just 6 poems.
This nomination means such a great deal as there was a time that I wasn’t going to write, submit or share my writing again. I’m glad I decided to reverse this decision because all I was doing was denying myself a whole heap of healing and pleasure by not creating. I’m grateful for this recognition.

Someone told me once …

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The other week I went back to where I grew up. My time in a small village by the River Tyne were my formative years. I grew into a woman there and then left to go to London for university. I couldn’t leave quick enough. I found the place small and claustrophobic. It was a place where everyone knew your business. And to top it all we were the only black family around for years and miles. So we stood out.
Someone once told me that I should learn from the past but not hold onto the past. At the time, I didn’t quite get what she was getting at. I nodded my head and said thank you and moved along. Going back to my roots the other week this piece of advice came back to me.
Growing up in that all white village, I learned how to fit in, I learned how to make people laugh, I learned how to make other people comfortable being around me.
That is in the past. What I know now is that it’s okay to be myself; my whole self because if somebody doesn’t like me or gets uncomfortable that’s their problem not mine. I’m not in this earth to make everyone like me. I’m not on this earth to just blend in and smile.
I know I am here to shine. To offer up my gifts to the world and those who are on the same plane can appreciate them and learn from them if they do choose.
In the past, I worked hard for you to love me. In the present, I work at me loving me. And that’s enough now.

Found Poem – Chicago

Things happen in the blink of an eye
I pray to keep him out of harm’s way
I pray to keep him until he’s grown
But there’s a target on his back
And a gnawing hunger in his eyes
No prospects no jobs no hope
I pray to keep him close
I pray against police and gangs
But shots are fired shots are fired
No respect for humanity

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