Amplifying Black Women Voices #5: Defining Your Worth Your Damn Self!

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—I walked out of the corner conference room feeling cornered but not defeated.

When I was young all I wanted to be was a writer. In my late thirties I looked at my résumé and balled; tears of shame and guilt of having years of jobs I hated and periods of short stints in corporate America that left me with sever Post Traumatic Stress.

Nevertheless, my career plans sent me on the journey of a preschool teacher, career coach, child development specialist, educator, trainer, state-wide officer, administrative assistant, associate director, grants manager, and probably so many more. One of my last interviews was for a non-profit ministry that served minority students in a predominantly black part of town.

The position was a high-level administrative position. I didn’t get the job however, I was told in an email by the Dean of the school and interview team that I was one of the most qualified candidates who interviewed but they chose to go in a different direction.

Rejection happens to us all and employers can choose whom they feel is a best fit for their organization at their will. Recently browsing online I saw the outfit I interviewed for win an award pictured was the new person who filled the position I interviewed for.

The picture consisted of smart, beautiful, confident, black young children in matching school uniforms holding hands while white administrators and school officials surrounded them in a classroom.

When I interviewed for the position with their board and team I was asked what I valued the most? I answered myself. I value my truth and my story and not a false narrative of what society believes about me or believes about black women in their 40’s who grew up in a poor rural part of Alabama.

BE YOURSELF EVERYONE IS ALREADY TAKEN

-OSCAR WILDE

I value the truth that I know to be true about black girls like me. My ideas of worthiness was formed watching black women teachers in their high heels with matter of fact smiles teach black young girls and boys from what some deemed as “low income homes” how to read and dream.

Representation is a defining truth that matters to black children and for black children. Visibly being able to see, touch, and hear someone who looks, sounds, and has cultural messages like the ones you may have gives authentic meaning towards one’s worthiness.

“This is what I intend to teach, display, and encourage as a leader within this organization if I am accepted in this position, I concluded”. Immediately after repeating this mantra in a room full of very nice proper people who didn’t look like me I knew by the phony smiles, perplexed eyes looking away from my eyes, and loud silence I had said something that did not go over very well.

I walked out of the corner conference room feeling cornered but not defeated.

Even though I wished at the time to take this message to this particularly organization, I quickly realized I am the message and it goes with me no matter where I go. That message includes not allowing or accepting definitions of my worth, the worthiness of blackness, or the perceptions of ‘me” that are constructed from false narratives.

Similarly, where people live or what their economic status is doesn’t define their worthiness or the value of their ability to learn and become successful. And the great white hope of saving “us” is an anti-blackness ritual that is an aggression and affront towards real change and genuine concern.

Questions I am pondering…

  1. Who or what are you allowing to define your worth?
  2. Are you an activist for yourself and the self-worth of your people?
  3. How do your values match up with your belief about your worthiness?

Character is defined by what we do when no one else is looking therefore when we are true to ourselves our character is refined. A picture is worth a thousand words and that picture that caused me to write out my worth is something I had to sit with some thousand times over.

Moreover, I didn’t want to become bitter— but maybe bitterness set in for awhile. There is nothing sweet about determining the worth of others through the lens of one’s own judgment. Bitterness is then the catalyst perhaps that has provoked me towards conversations around personal messaging, virtues, and values.

–Don’t pretend to love me by superficial servitude, for your hands have no power to save no matter how mighty and glossy the photo-op appears to be! NO, NO, NO, … I am fine and worthy just by being me—my, yours, and our worthiness is defined by our damn self!

 

Amplify Black Women’s Voices… No Approval or Permission Needed!

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In 2017, I made some really insignificant mistakes that surely I and others will eventually forget. There were also some huge mistakes that I am doing my best to learn from and rectify. I opened my inbox several months ago to a disturbing email after submitting an article about poverty, race, and black women the email read, “Your writing is horrible, it is really the worst that I have read and I don’t have time as an editor to make it better or even care to, really your writing and grammar sucks”.

Now don’t get me wrong I receive several rejection letters, no calls, no replies etc. in a week as I put myself and writing out there a whole lot. Most of them are form letters stating, “Thank you for submitting we are not at this time able to publish your submission” , and some are a little more specific giving detail on how I can make my work a better fit for their needs.

Admittedly after receiving the “I suck” from a local editor who I admire after relentlessly pitching to this particular outfit for several years sent my confidence as a writer in downward spiral.

My black girl magic stock dropped and I vowed to never go after any local publications or outfits ever again in the city I live or the south (way dramatic I know). Prior to this rejection I had several rejections from all of the major publications in my southern city many would not even give me a meeting or reply to my email.

I watched others celebrate their local wins and I applauded on the sidelines bitter and silent as I read their contributions and accolades-envy isn’t always pretty but it has been real for me (future post).

Then I listened to the many seasoned and articulate women I follow speak about their own rejections helping me gain the acceptance that rejection is a part of writing thus giving me some comfort. I have a very thick skin, resolve, and I don’t give up but I had taken what this editor said as a personal insult-huge mistake.

One of my favorite quotes that I write and live by (yet another post) is by Ernest Hemmingway…

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
Ernest Hemingway

No one owes me or anyone anything; I know and have known that my assignment in life is to amplify the voices of those who go unheard-not the voiceless as we all have a voice. Also, this calling has lead me to know that I am a writer, poet, healer, and social justice advocate.

Yes, I will work on improving my skills and healing my childhood fears and wounds of rejection but I will progress on my given assignment of amplifying black women until I die.

Unfortunately, I have waited for permission, affirmation, and validation from others especially those who I have deemed as important and influential in areas I haven’t been accepted as of late. I believed my attempts at blogging/business wasn’t enough, my writing circles were not enough, my poetry wasn’t academic or nuisance enough, my personal approach to writing wasn’t enough, and that I am not good enough-huge mistake.

I am learning to create my own space and to gradually only glance at the number of likes or shares. I also am learning that a “no” today can mean a “yes” later. I mainly feel that my higher power and higher calling consistently whispers to me that I have been placed on this earth to dwell and hold spaces of spiritual healing while I continue to grow and heal alongside others.

Writing is an act of Social Justice for Self….

On another note, I have been terrified to create and accept the assignment of holding spaces that amplify black women voices thus amplifying my own. Today, I am constantly wrestling with being a voice of vulnerability for myself and those who voices go unheard while being a megaphone for the sisterhood of black women who are seeking healing. My mantra going forth is to create spaces and writing that is imperfectly/vulnerable with errors and impatience and is… EXTRA, LOUD, SHRIEK PROOF, and IMPOSTER SYNDROME PROOF-BLACKITY, BLACKITY, BLACK WOMAN MAGIC BLACK.

I am a proud black woman who in the words of a major mega black woman celebrity Issa Ray of the famed docu-drama Insecure, who stated at a recent awards event, “I am for everyone and everything black”. Today I am not waiting or expecting anyone, anywhere, at anytime to amplify my voice or the voices of my sisters anymore- that was one of my huge mistakes in 2017-I am now ready… 2018 is going to be ‘Black as all get out’.

 

Salaam Green-Proud carrier of Grandma Washington’s Thick Thighs, Born and Breed as the Black Belt Babe in Greensboro, Alabama-Catfish capital of the South….  where I fell in love with the land and the people who groomed it daily, Daughter of the Foot Wash an African American southern spiritual experience for lovers of art and rural culture. Architect of words and devourer of soul food. 2016 Poet Laureate for Entrepreneurship; Award Winning Author, National and Locally Published Writer, Poet, Social Justice Activist-founder of Literary Healing Arts, LLC. a women owned business that promotes the healing power of words through youth and adult literary engaging workshops, write to heal community health and healing circles, personal development mentoring and soul advising and creative business coaching for women living in rural America who seek to make a change and transform their lives and the community they serve and live in. Salaam is in the business of supporting people to write their lives back together again. Follow Salaam on Instagram @beautifulblackpoetry. Twitter: salaamgreen1, and the Black Belt Babe Business blog-literaryhealingart.com