by Rogene C. Evans
I look up to the sky for my blessing,
Hoping that a miracle falls from it and knocks me unconscious so that I
may wake up healed from all the hurt and pain my past has caused.
Tears fall from my eyes as I acknowledge the wave of emotions that
overwhelm my heart.
I wish only to be free.
From the darkness that prevents me from flying free and escaping every
memory that has scarred me.
I look at my reflection in the mirror,
As my eyes water, I hear my own voice,
Telling myself to keep my composure and that big girls don’t cry.
My hands travel over my wide hips, small waist, and I cup my breasts.
Big girls may not cry but grown women do.
I let them fall like Niagara
And with every tear, the weight on my chest relieved itself.
In my tears, I discovered healing and truth.
In My Feelings
by Rogene C. Evans
Our reality doesn’t always reflect the sadness that we feel inside.
But we have to be the strong woman that everyone perceives us to be.
So we create excuses.
Telling ourselves that we have no reason to feel the way we do.
Further invalidating our feelings instead of searching our souls and
We should stop ignoring.
We should be as gentle and caring to ourselves as we are with those
We should heal ourselves with as much dedication as we do with those
We should stop pretending that everything is okay.
We should pour into ourselves for once.
In conversation Rogene C. Evans pertaining to 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?
This sentiment is absolutely true. We transcend this construct by being aware of its presence in our life, first. Then, we have to constantly monitor our thoughts and actions to unlearn certain socialized constructs. By self-reflecting and thinking about our motivations we can overcome a lot of internal bias and self hate that we project onto other people.
The Women that Raise Us aims to exemplify the variations of women that raise and influence us, directly and indirectly, acknowledging every connection, whether ancestral or distant. Who are the women that have shaped you or raised you? Who are the women that continue to do so?
Let me start by saying that my family is 80% women, including my grandmother, aunts, sisters, and cousins. They all have shaped me in some way, shape, or form, directly and indirectly. By watching them, they are my example of what and what not to do depending on if their actions and values coincide with the woman I aspire to be. I admire women that are unapologetic about who they are because they love themselves for who they are.
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?
I do consider negative and positive relationships and experiences as a contribution to my own growth because, in every experience and relationship, I believe there is something you can gain. Whether that be knowledge, perspective, understanding, wisdom, or growth. And I do consider those experiences as a contribution to my current self. I believe it’s impossible to be the same exact person you were prior to a certain experience or person. Our experiences and encounters shape our understanding of the world, how we interpret things in this world, and ultimately who we are moving forward in this world.
"Our experiences and encounters shape our understanding of the world, how we interpret things in this world, and ultimately who we are moving forward in this world."
In what ways can we, as a community, 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 believe we can release the stereotypical perspectives, ideas, and roles of women of color by not caring about the way we are perceived in the first place. Stereotypes stifle our multidimensionality by attempting to shove us in boxes and inaccurately portray us as something we are not. To transcend these constructs we must first define who we are for ourselves. Since we don’t like the stereotypes and negative portrayals of us, that means we can’t (even though we sometimes do) project these same stereotypes and images onto ourselves and others. By being conscious of our actions and the things we internally believe about ourselves, we can elevate our thinking about ourselves and not make the same mistakes. More importantly, we won’t project those negative thoughts onto others thus strengthening our relationship with ourselves and others. And we can deepen our relationships by being vulnerable. I feel like we have this expectation to be strong 100 percent of the time and it's unrealistic. Sometimes we aren’t okay. Some days we aren’t our best self. And that’s okay. But don’t be afraid to be vulnerable because of how you may be perceived. Vulnerability strengthens relationships. Through truth and vulnerability, people are allowed to see you for who you really are.
What are your thoughts on women of color being hyper-visible and yet invisible (ignored, unheard, unfelt) in society and/or their own communities?
It’s frustrating. It’s rude, insensitive, and wrong. It can also be stifling if you let it. As an artist and black woman, I feel like we’re acclaimed for being beautiful, talented, and artistically innovative, but as soon as we use our voice, think for ourselves, or demand more for ourselves then we are ignored. Then we’re accused of not being in “our place”. Then sometimes we don’t even get the recognition we deserve at all for being talented, artistically inclined, and beautiful. I think to not let it sway you, you have to know who you are and what you believe in, and stand firm in that. As long as you’re genuine and true to yourself, everything will happen as it should. We wouldn’t learn anything if there were no trials, tribulations, or adversity. More importantly, we wouldn’t have anything to strive for.
How can we lift each other, while we still climb as individuals? How can this become an ongoing practice?
Just show genuine love. It’s not hard to acknowledge someone for what they’re doing a bomb job at. Pay compliments, be kind. Make it a personal goal to show genuine love to family, friends, but most importantly, strangers.
Where were you, physically, mentally, or emotionally, when writing [Grown Woman and In My Feelings?]
In My Feelings is the prelude to Grown Woman. It discusses the invalidation that we experience sometimes from others and ourselves about our emotions, how we're feeling, and what we're dealing with.
Grown Woman is the next step when you finally deal with those emotions. It describes the overwhelming feeling that you get when things are just out of your control and you don't know what to do. You don't have any solutions or anybody to talk to and you're just tired. And so you break down. And then in the middle of the breakdown, you pick yourself up and pull yourself together.
And both poems, I believe, tackle the stigma of the "strong black woman". I think women, especially black women, are perceived to be these supernatural beings that can hold the entire weight of the world on their shoulders without breaking a sweat, and that simply just isn't true. I hope when people read the poems, they understand that experiencing your emotions is okay. It's more conducive than being aggressive and having a negative disposition just because you never learned how to express and experience your emotions in a healthy way.
When I wrote these poems, physically, I was at home in my living room just self-reflecting a lot. Mentally, I was not in a good place. I was unemployed. I was broke. I didn't know how I was gonna get out of my plethora of situations, so I was stressed out. I was confused. Emotionally, I was very weary, not yet broken, but I was on the verge. I've been through a lot just to be 22, so it's really hard for me to lose faith. If I have nothing, I have faith that there will always be better days despite whatever I'm going through. But I still go through the motions, it's natural.
Rogene C. Evans is a senior at Ohio University attaining a degree in B.S.S./ Mass Communications. Evans has been writing poetry since the age of 15. ‘MUSE’ is a collection of poems chronicling the woes of womanhood and coming into your own skin. It deals with subject issues pertaining to self-esteem, identity, depression, addiction, and rape.