I have had my nose submerged deeply into Cicely Tyson’s newly released memoir just days before her departure from this life, “Just As I Am.” I had ordered the book along with my girl gang of friends as a way to pay homage and read from the palms of what I knew would be wisdom personified.
I was committed to reading the book within 3-5 days because I wanted to have my energy fully devoted to the work that a 96-year-old woman had unselfishly shared of herself, her life and her legacy. I also felt compelled to carry out the task as she is now part of the ancestral realm. Oh, and I respect when a woman shares her story.
The book is drenched in beautiful storytelling, sharing childhood memories of the “Tyson FIve,” fun gatherings with Black Hollywood greats laughing over food and music in their Harlem high rises, a recount of a love story she shared with Miles Davis, that was complex and toxic, yet a beautiful tale of what it ultimately meant to her, and finally, how a mother's love for her child can come with sacrifices and hardship, although, rooted deeply in love. (Honestly, and soooo much more).
The last couple of chapters, I wept all the way through, I felt as if she took the words from my heart and embossed them in print, when she spoke about what it means to be Black and especially a Black Woman in America. Salty tears fell from my cheeks to the page as she shared how concerned she is for us, as a race, and as women. Specifically, how we are not allowed to show emotion, and how sharing our feelings is often transcribed as anything but coming from a place of understanding the trauma that has been interwoven into the fabrics of who we are, without consent.
How appropriate as we head into Black History Month.
SIDENOTE: I am in awe at how she is still speaking and hasn't made it to the grave. Her life was truly anointed and a gift to us ALL! I imagine she is saying I did my work now read the playbook!
This year, Black History Month feels a bit different for me. While we are still celebrating the history making moment of the election of Madam Vice President Kamala Harris, I am also sifting through feelings of sorrow and celebration. Sorrow, because even when I amplify my voice, in an effort to speak for a population of people that are constantly oppressed, my own people, I have to stand on the frontlines preparing myself for battle as others distort my voice into decibel levels that are seemingly impossible to hear. Nevertheless, I feel celebratory because my gosh, there, is so much to celebrate in Black History and about Black People.
But...ugh... Trauma always resurfaces and shows up, leaving you caught between two worlds, sometimes feeling like purgatory.
THIS YEAR for Black History Month though, I will celebrate the excellence, not the trauma. I will uplift our voices and not traumatic vices, I will commemorate the beauty of which the shoulders we stand on and not the heinous attacks that have left parts of our soul paralyzed.
Celebrate with me, won't ya! Follow me on Instagram, subscribe to the blog and share!