What a week! Yes, I do know that it’s Thursday, because I woke up this morning “clothed in my right mind.” I have heard this black church elder’s testimony uttered in two versions (there may be more): “I thank God that I woke up this morning clothed and in my right mind” or “I thank God that I woke up clothed in my right mind.”
As this week hurls to a close, either version will do. To be clothed—having reasonably good health, a place to live, and a way to make an honest living are praiseworthy ways of being in a country where health is becoming more and more by way of policy a matter of wealth—who can buy health insurance, pay for health care in the hospital emergency room or doctor’s office, and who gets a tax break—I truly do know as a Black woman in the US, except for believing that God is ultimately on the side of justice, that I might not be clothed. In my right mind—having psychologists almost daily this week confirm the long-term effects of racial trauma, hearing Black women bloggers across a spectrum of ages, faiths, education, economics declare the righteousness of rage, and reading the Georgetown Law research study reporting that black girls are viewed less innocent than white girls—I do know as a Black woman in the US, except for believing that faith and justice go hand in hand, I might not be in my right mind.
I am focusing on being clothed in my right mind today. Perhaps, as an academic knowing that I am fully cognitive is reassuring. However, it is that and more than that. As I read the report on young black girls, my own experiences and those of friends emerged and emotions—anger, sadness, courage—surged. Anger (ENRAGED): someone finally “documents” the experience of black girls past and present, so now it’s real. Sadness (DESPAIR): some black girl somewhere is living the pain of being the subject of an authority figure’s unspoken but acted out disdain for her upon her mind and body (and that I carry that pain and she will too into adulthood). Courage(EMPOWERED)—reaffirming that, in spite of it all, Black girls do grow into Black women who “turn the world right side up” as Sojourner Truth predicted when she declared “Ain’t I a Woman.”
What a week! #sayhername is a recognition of and a clarion call to all Black women to be our truest selves, despite and amid everything and everyone who denies our truths. Black club women of the 19th century issued a clarion call to “Awake, Arise, and Act!” Those women, our ancestors, are still issuing the call and their hearts beat within us each time we thrive, even though “we were never meant to survive. (Audre Lorde)
Womanist ethicist grappling with questions about religion, justice and peace in our time.