Mother was strong and invincible. A tall, sun kissed, beautiful brown Queen that carried her pain through life as effortlessly as her joy. She existed behind an austere silence, keeping the subjects of her kingdom at an uncanny distance. More than anything, I longed for her touch as a child. I desired a physical indication that we shared an immutable connection—undeniably of comfort, safety, and affirmation. However, caught in the crosshairs of survival and solidarity, I realized Mother had to remain free of obvious emotional attachment. She was a warrior and such ties could be fatal, so I believed. I lived with dreams deferred but never forgotten. Mother’s far-reaching and ever-seeking hand of fury taught me to be quick on my feet, determined, and forgiving. Since I could not win against her silence, I rebelled against her pain. I accepted my position as a motherless child and began to appreciate the bittersweet existence we would share. She was a conundrum. However, her unique plight as a Black Woman was very clear.
Mother despised the margins in which she was forced to conform. She believed she was doing what she had to do to get where she was trying to go. All I knew was that Mother wanted to be heard, to have a voice that proved she mattered. We all wanted that, but her pain was bigger and her burden heavier. So I learned to love through the noise and the silence—the loudest of all. Loving myself taught me I was strong, wise, and courageous enough to bear the weight of my brown skin just like Mother. I, too, would find my voice and use it to escape the margins. Daily, I denounce the confinements of ignorance and self-hatred and fight the vile and toxic system of oppression with songs of liberation. The most passionate and persuasive example of the incomparable strength that comes from being Black and a Woman in an unforgiving world was found in Mother. Her voice now whispers to me in the solace of my quiet space. As an adult, I found my connection. Sometimes, it takes distance to make sense of resistance. Acceptance cleared the path for greater understanding.
Although silence was the loyal warrior no one could disarm from Mother’s heart, I learned to live with the soldier at the gate. She obviously needed protection—from someone or something. It was not my job to figure it out. Women of color carry secrets. The mysteries of their souls are buried like hidden treasures in the silent depths, carried to the extremes of the Universe upon infinite streams of consciousness. Their stories long to be told. The Black woman’s pain runs deep, but even greater, so does her joy. Her smile gives birth to stars, her tears strength to the hopeless. Because of Mother, I understood salvation‘s path was paved with forgiveness. I had to forgive to live. The silence that had enshrined Mother became the incubator of my greatest strength—Love.