How I Learned to Play the Crying Game
she was a shadow of brilliance
she denied her dreams for duty
with diligence she taught me
how to work hard
how to make a living
but not how to make a life
she told me to always remember to
put the eggs and bread at the top
of the bag because they
could be crushed but not where to place myself
she fought out loud
hard words slipped out easily
from her gap toothed mouth
but she cried privately
begging for softness
by Nia Mora
in conversation with NIa Mora pertaining to the The Women That Raise Us:
"...We must move against not only those forces which dehumanize us from the outside, but also against those oppressive values which we have been forced to take into ourselves.” - Audre Lorde. Through experience, this concept has seemed to flow into our relationships with ourselves and our relationships with others, potentially, creating barriers and preventing us from building, supporting, and lifting one another. how can we transcend this construct?
I love this idea of freeing ourselves from the oppressive ideas that keep us stuck longer than any other physical force could. That is the place where I am in my life. I am giving up any ideas that don’t conform to my vision instead of conforming my behavior to match ideas that are not mine or ideas I don’t truly believe in. We can begin to transcend this construct by being honest with ourselves. There is much talk today about sharing “our truths” in terms of storytelling, but not enough talk around being honest with yourself about your desires and needs. We need to be able to say to ourselves with confidence and dignity, “I want this, I can have this.” whether your this is peace or a Mercedes.
"That is the place where I am in my life. I am giving up any ideas that don't conform to my vision instead of conforming my behavior to match ideas that are not mine or ideas I don’t truly believe in."
In what ways can we release the stereotypical negative perspectives and ideas of women of color and their roles? How can we transcend these constructs and deepen the interpersonal/intrapersonal relationships with women of color?
I had a slightly nontraditional upbringing--I was not raised by my biological parents. The woman that I call mom is actually my aunt, but I would not and could not be even a fraction of the person that I am today with her wisdom, her grace, and constant care. My sister was also a major contributor to my upbringing. Now as I grow into a new woman I have a fierce tribe of women wordsmiths who support me.
Do you consider "negative" and "positive" relationships and experiences with women as a contribution to your growth? Do you consider friends, inspirations, fallen relationships or even the everyday encounters as a contribution to your current self?
Positive and negative relationships in our lives are equally important. One teaches us what we want to feel and the other teaches us what we cannot accept in our lives. I think all of my relationships contribute to making me whole.
In what ways can we, as a community, release the stereotypical perspectives and ideas of women of color and their roles? How can we transcend these constructs and deepen the interpersonal / intrapersonal relationships with women of color?
The release begins with both an acceptance of the fact that some stereotypes are rooted in the truth and then establishing conversations and representations about the other characteristics of our womanhood that is not stereotyped. For example, the image of the “take no nonsense black woman” is a stereotypical representation, but she is also a part of us. Many of us know or are her to a certain extent and instead of embracing her we shame her in real life because we know how people view that representation. What if we opened up a space or created representations of that “take no nonsense black woman” that included the rest of her characteristics?
What are your thoughts on women of color being hyper-visible yet invisible in society and/or within their own communities?
The way the black woman in pain is disregarded yet loved and adored when her hair is braided or she’s wearing Gucci from head to toe is one of the saddest things ever. It is Sarah Baartman over and over again. They will line up to oogle and study us, but no one will ever get in line to save us. That’s why we have to create small pockets of support for each other within our community until the larger community follows suit.
How can we lift each other while we still climb as individuals? How can this become an ongoing practice?
How can this become an ongoing practice? It starts with small actions on a daily basis. If you know you can’t run a woman’s support group take time to tell three women a day how their work touches you or ask them how you can support them. Share their work or discuss what they do when the occasion arises. These are small and simple ways that just move the entire community along.
Nia Mora is a Harlem based poet. Her work concentrates largely on love--finding it and losing it, with some sprinklings of race and her dysfunctional family roots.