Black Woman, Still You Rise

Nina Simone
Photo Cred: Affinity Magazine

I recently watched two documentaries entitled ‘What Happened Miss Simone’ and ‘Still I Rise’ about the lives of Nina Simone & Maya Angelou respectively. Black women celebrated in history for journeys that were paid for in pain.

Theirs were influential lives led to inspire us all but at what cost? From Nina’s abusive marriage and lifelong struggle with depression to Maya’s rejection as a child, promiscuity and unfulfilled love life.

In watching these documentaries I found myself close to tears. Thinking of the struggle of not only them but so many black women. As black women, we can relate to such struggle. The struggle of our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, sisters and friends. The amount we continuously endure, even though endurance shouldn’t be a prerequisite of our existence. My heart breaks to think of all we have been through and the great expectation of what we are to bear.

But still – undeniably still – as Maya Angelou said, we rise. From abuse, from hurt, from loss, from straying children, from second class existence, from marginalisation, from pain, from disappointment. From the ashes, from rock bottom – still we rise.

I leave you with the words of the late, great Dr. Angelou in the hopes that it will inspire you to keep rising.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
โ€™Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
โ€™Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Digginโ€™ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, Iโ€™ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of historyโ€™s shame
I rise
Up from a past thatโ€™s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak thatโ€™s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou
Photo Cred: Emily’s Poetry Blog

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