for nia

i took a bereavement day. i decided to put aside my superwoman status. i decided to lay down all my armor because it could not serve me. i took time to mourn the fact that another black woman was murdered in these streets. on july 22, nia wilson took her place next to the unmarked tombstones of our era — the hashtag. and i know that before i can even tend to this wound another tombstone will be erected on these internets for another black body taken.

so, i had to take a minute because i could not look at, talk to, collaborate with, email notes to, plan sessions with, create documents for, simply work next to people, especially the white ones, who do not understand or even realize this burden i/we bear called being black in america the day after.

the day after another black life is taken that could have easily been my very own and far worse could have been that of my beautiful black son or daughter. i could not sit around and talk about work when this pain and this rage that is cellular and consuming tries to run away with my humanity. i could not do work yesterday when the real work we need to do as humans is consistently being denied.

i have been haunted by all the things nia wilson will no longer get to do. chase fireflies. feel the beauty and power of her own legs as she walks or runs. watch the last flowers of summer bloom in direct defiance to the coming autumn. kiss someone on the forehead and feel them smile in response. touch or be touched in all the right ways by another human being. cry. laugh. love. inhale. exhale.

i went to yoga and was blessed with a beautiful woman of color teacher. in adho mukah svanasana i was reminded that for me this yoga thing is just practice for the real world. this yoga thing is so that when i need to, i can be the calm in my own storm. this yoga thing is so that when my thoughts and my rage come up i can simply be with them, observe them and acknowledge them, because they are real.

after yoga, i walked in harlem and smiled at every single black person i saw. i smiled because even with my sadness and my rage as companions, i was happy that they each had one more moment to walk these city streets with me. 

i smiled at the black mamas and their black babies remembering the days spent with my babies when they needed me for what felt like everything. however, i fully grasp how much more they would need me as they get older and more independent in this not so gentle world. 

i smiled at the older black women with their blonde naturals outside the church on morningside avenue. these knowing elders who may not realize that while things remain the same, how we decide to mobilize and organize do not have to. i walked and i smiled and i cried. 

every time a hashtag is created to remind me that another black life was taken, i immediately ask myself what can i do that will keep me whole? what can i do

to keep my babies safe? what can i do that will have impact? what can i do that will create a more just and anti-racist future for my children?

i decided that i would start by doing exactly what i instinctively knew i needed to do; just be. be angry. be sad. be in need of a break. be kind and gentle with myself. be a yoga student. be a kind stranger. be myself. and then when my bereavement day is over i will get back to this work of preserving and respecting and protecting humanity because if black women don’t do it, who will?