This is less about her funeral and more about remembering.
Remembering the power in vulnerability.
When “Strong Black Women" die, they have “Strong Black Woman” funerals. Well-dressed former bosses, students, colleagues and friends give tear filled tribute to her beauty, hard work and dedication. You’ll hear phrases like “she never let us see her pain” and “she was so strong”.
At the funeral, there will be a small group of people who knew her, didn’t run when they saw her pain and found beauty in her vulnerability. They probably asked for more of it over elaborate meals and glasses of wine. Those are the special ones. If you are lucky, one of them will speak. S/he will remind the crowd that her favorite color was orange and that she had great legs.
After the “Strong Black Woman” funeral, those well-dressed former bosses, students, colleagues and friends will walk away feeling robbed. Undone. They will have learned more about her in that last 2 hours than they knew over the duration of their relationship. She was too busy being a superhero to be cohesive.
But this is less about her funeral and more about remembering.
Remembering that I want to be Whole.
When I die, I don’t want a “strong black woman” funeral… I want a room full of the special ones who knew me. Saw me. And loved me anyway. But most importantly, I want to be in community with the special ones while I am so so alive! I want to believe I will not be penalized by showing up, authentically. I want to say no without apology. I want to come undone sometimes and not be judged later…because I want that for you too.
I want to be in the world fiercely doing what I love with people I love. And I want to leave some glitter behind like Barbara did.
Yea, this was about remembering who I am (becoming).
Thank you so much, Barbara.
This is dedicated to and inspired by:
- "Wishful Thinking" by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, SPEAK! Collective
- "Certainly" by Erykah Badu
- The Sister Citizen Book Club where we believe Whole Black Woman > Strong Black Woman!
- Tina Lassiter for bringing me into you amazing circle of sister-friends (including Barbara) and embracing me as your mentor-daughter.
- Mika, Tanya, Tammi, Blessing, Kamaria, Erin, Joi - the women who first taught me the power and beauty of a sister circle.
- #thebraintrust… let’s change the narrative sisteren!
- The Saartjie Project, if we were still creating together I know we’d make a play out of this piece! :P
- Kathryn and Live Unchained…your electronic love blast aka email was right on time.
- Ebony Golden and Body Ecology… just because.
- Zachari for loving on me and being the first person I talked to after Barbara’s funeral.