March 14, 2016

The Conjure Woman: A Lesson in Black Girl Magic

My friend from grad school asked a simple question:

"Seriously... How the hell did our mamas do it all?" 

I sat and pondered the question. I thought about it. As I typed, I thought of my own mother. 

I wrote back:

Sis.. I don't know. My mama has been gone from this earth 7 months. Even in her last days she sat in her wheelchair and cooked, baked cakes and such. When I was younger, she worked 3 jobs despite having lupus. The short answer: black women are superhuman and extraordinary. And here I am.. Working, a newlywed, trying to get a Phd and feel like I'm going to fall apart. I don't feel like I'm made from the same stuff
My mama was. But somehow we get through it... We have to. We are deep down made from the same stuff. Just have to channel it... Conjure it.

Even after I wrote that response, I had to sit with it for a while. Conjure it?  Can I conjure it? Do I even believe what I wrote?

Months after my response... I am still waiting fro an answer. Here I am.. one year and a day after the death  of my mother...a new mom to a NICU preemie, working full time...trying not to use up all my leave because America's maternity leave sucks. trying to get back on track with  my PhD because well.. spring semester was a total wash after my comps.. because I had the baby so early...... and still trying to balance being who I am with being a (fairly) newlywed.

Am I meant to be a conjure woman?  Is Black Girl Magic just endowed within me? How can I tap into it?

I do not think that being a black woman means to be superwoman all the time. But it is about having balance and being unapologetic. It is about not only doing it all.. and doing it well.. but doing it however you want.. when you want.. on your own time schedule.. and with your own about of "give a damn" about it. You conjure up the authority to deem what's important to you.

Yes, black women are made of earth and steel and gold and clouds and sound and fury.... and somehow we make magic our of nothing. We are doing the world's work with none of the recognition... with a heavy boot of double-oppression on our necks. Whether we be single mothers or single professionals.. or married professionals or married work-at-home-mothers (because Stay at HOME isnt the thing really... you are indeed working)... we are making it happen.

I guess I say all of this to say.. I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to figure out out.

But I am sure I will pull out my willpower and fortitude from my deep, ancestral place..


.. and just work it the F*** out!

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