BLACK WOMAN, I SEE YOU

I work with women for a living. I hear stories all day. Friends, clients & strangers share their inner most hopes, their fears, their dreams with me.


I have white friends, Spanish friends, Indian friends, Asian friends and all forms of mix up that you can imagine. My friends hale from across the world with so many different backgrounds, but most of my friends are black. So, I hear stories.


I love all women. And though I cherish them all, today I woke up feeling an aching and a longing to talk to black women. Whatever your background or race, you may see yourself in these stories and I invite you in. Men, so many times I’ve wanted to tell your stories and one day I may. I have great compassion for your untold stories, too.


But today, my heart woke up and said.

Write to black women.

And tell them this.

I.SEE.YOU.


This is not about my life specifically, though parts of it are because I am black. It is a message I felt in my soul that I wished every black woman could hear.


I see you.


To the black woman who has breast cancer, battling it alone. I know you. Doctors’ visits alone, fear you don't share, sometimes not telling anyone because you don’t want them to worry. You are black. Always asked to be strong, so you hide it. All. Your feelings. But I see you. You are not alone, because I understand you.


To the black woman who has children and is oh-so-tired. Raising them with someone who doesn’t see all that you really do and still expects more. No one offers YOU a break. Sometimes your soul feels crushed because you are expected to do so much. To carry so much, but you go on. You manage not just the 9-5, but the care, the education, the preparation. You are counselor, teacher, make it happen-er, because it always falls on you. I know you are overwhelmed. I see you.


To you black woman, who is aging and searching for a husband and secretly fear you will never have a husband. Wondering if love is for you, feeling powerless to change it, especially now in corona times. I see you.


To the black woman who is married and cannot make the one you love, love you back in a way that felt like it did back then. I know you wonder, about yourself. I see you.


To the black woman with a business. You are beyond tired. You work to prove to yourself and your parents and their parents that you can, because they unknowingly put so much pressure on you to do it all. To be best. To fly above at all costs, even at the expense of yourself. I know you. I see you.


To the black woman who feels hopeless, alone, unattractive, unseen, not as young as she used to be, sad, fearful or somehow less than everyone else. I know about all the struggles inside your mind and your heart, the ones you don’t ever talk about. I know when you feel not seen. But I see you!


To the black woman who is always too strong. I know why you are strong. Because when you were 6 you were taking care of your brothers and sisters. Cooking meals. Preparing for school. When you were struggling to find money for college you always had to fight for it, figure it out, never stop thinking and doing or it wouldn’t have happened at all. You’ve had to fight life so long that sometimes you forget how to be soft, and you fear that if you stop for one minute life might all fall apart. I see you.


Most of all black woman. I see you. Wearing a mask. All day every day. Showing the world the face they need. We are nurturers, comforters. We are the strength they all look for. We are mothers, even if we are not mothers. We are love. The world will not admit that they come to us for it, but it is our gift. WE ARE LOVE. Hear me. We are LOVE. It is greater than the love between our thighs, it is the love in our eyes that heals hearts, and souls and minds.


But today black woman. I JUST NEED YOU TO KNOW. I SEE YOU. I SEE HOW YOU FEEL DEEP INSIDE. I SEE THE FEELINGS YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT. I FEEL THE PRESSURE ONLY WE KNOW. I SEE YOUR FEAR AND SADNESS AND SELF DOUBT BECAUSE THE WORLD ALWAYS HAS TOO MANY EXPECTATIONS FOR US. I SEE YOUR PRESSURE. I SEE YOU.


You deserve to be seen.


Why?


Because you are a butterfly. Living on the inside of a cocoon. You are on your way out into a bigger world. One day you will fly and the world will take notice. They will notice YOU, just as you are.


Black woman. I have not written to you publicly, because I have been criticized for the way I look and who I am as a black woman. Too light. Never black enough. Trying to be something I am not. And those voices made me feel I couldn’t speak to you because I may be judged, by you. But I am no longer that woman. I am love and so are you. I’ve been hearing your stories. I’ve lived your stories and today I wanted to talk just to you. With tenderness and love and unconditional acceptance. Can you hear me? Can you feel my love?


Black woman. Mahogany, caramel, milk chocolate, butter-pecan-rican, café-au-lait and all things in between. I see you. I see you.


Perfect little young fit body but still not feeling enough, older sexy body with things sagging a bit and 300-pound body not knowing how to change it…we are all here. We are all one. We are love. And today I need you to know….


Black woman. I see you. You are a butterfly inside of a cocoon. Feel weak and less no more.


Because I SEE YOU.

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Steph Stanford