I am living in a state of rage. This may come as a surprise to those who know me as a nice lady wearing a string of pearls and sensible heels who helps people get through the details of their bumpy board transitions and orderly organizational launches.
But no matter what I do or what I wear, I am a black woman who is awake. It is not possible to be a black woman who is awake without anger these days. If one is awake, there are so many reasons to be either angry or in despair. As the Fran Landesman tune goes: “All the news is bad again/ Kiss your dreams goodbye.”
And the news is that the police officer who shot Rumain Brisbon because he was armed with a bottle of painkillers was not charged with a crime: he will be back on the beat in Phoenix soon. The news tells us that one year later, the only girls from Chibok , Nigeria who have been freed from their mass kidnapping and sexual enslavement are the handful who escaped on their own. The news is full of the repeating images of Tamir Rice and Walter Scott and Lavall Hall being shot to death by the police, black bodies dying over and over again in repeating loops of snuff reality TV. The news is that “religious freedom restoration acts ” mean that while I don’t have to get my health insurance through Hobby Lobby, I still need to be ready to be refused service by some business based on my sexual orientation when consulting with new clients in Indiana.
Anger is a useful emotion. It is the feeling we are supposed to have when we are injured or violated. Although it has become popular to treat anger as a cause of physical and spiritual illness, the purpose of anger is to engender the physical and emotional energy to resist violation, even when that resistance is the simple act of survival. The poet Audre Lorde reminds us:
Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.(The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism, 1981)
Anger is also a bridge- a way over the river of despair, a way to move from one place to another. Stories about our anger can unleash energy for protest, or focus our attention on resistance. Stories about anger can give us the will to regenerate when we have been displaced, or the creative spark to reinvent a new path toward beauty and freedom. And what is on the other side of that bridge? Liberation. Self-determination. Power
So, if the other side of anger stories are power stories, then what I need to move forward from my state of chronic rage is to hear and tell to tell black power stories right now. In the face of stories of the terror of gender-based slavery, I need to hear more black woman power stories. When all the news can tell me is stories of black boys and men shot to death, I need to hear stories of living, resisting, empowered black men. When it barely makes the news that five transwomen of color were murdered during the first 6 weeks of 2015 , I need stories of deep black sisterhood and black trans triumph over patriarchy just to keep breathing. To keep moving toward freedom instead of dwelling forever in rage, I need to hear black justice and power stories.
So what do I want from you? I want you to #TellMeABlackPowerStory today.
I have a great need right now for Black Power Stories. Simple stories. Big stories. Mundane stories. Helped My Son With A Project Stories. Cooked a Healthful Meal Stories. Planted Some Vegetables Stories. Smiled At A Random Black Child At The Store Stories. Won An Award Stories. Gave Back To Community Stories. Woke Up And Went To Work Even Though I Didn’t Feel Like It Stories. We need more Black Power Stories. Black Power Stories are Black Love Stories, Black Kindness Stories, Black Helping Stories, Black Honor Stories, Black Generosity Stories.
So friends, I am asking you to #TellMeABlackPowerStory in the comments below. Or post one on your Facebook page, or share it with me on Twitter. Show Me A Black Power Story on Instagram or Vine. Spit it in a rhyme or sing it in a poem in your kitchen, on your stoop, through a mic on a stage. Tag it #TellMeABlackPowerStory. Repost it. Pass it on. Storify it. Make a Tumblr. Write short piece about it on Gawker or ForHarriet or wherever you give and get your news. Amplify it so our stories can find each other, and make a vision that can carry us forward.
The other side of anger is power. And I am one of many who needs to hear some stories of the power that’s awaiting all of us on the other side of this seemingly endless rage. Right now, the act of staying awake has me longing for a black power story. The news is so bad that this moment actually requires ten thousand black power stories, each one repeated a hundred times over. So I have come here to ask you to help me put them out into the world.
I deeply need to hear you #TellMeABlackPowerStory today.