I wish I could take credit for this title; alas I was not so creative. I owe this one to Pastor Traci Blackmon.
I speak for black women, which means I speak for all women–and by speaking for all women, I speak for all people. I can do this because my safety, security, and success depend on my ability to understand everyone else beyond myself. My misreads of a black man, whiteness, and my relation to those things almost always end in me hurting or dying in some way. Life for me is navigated through the white gaze, the male gaze, the religious gaze, the political gaze, the black gaze, the other gaze. I am (despite my most diligent fight to the contrary) objectified, treated as inanimate and functional to the purpose written on me by whosoever stands in front of me.
And so, I recognize the imminent trauma always around the corner. My sole goal in life is figuring out how to survive without too much damage.
When I went back and read Tamar’s story (after reading Pastor Blackmon’s post via facebook), I wondered at the time (2015) how many women have been told in se way to stop grieving their pain, their losses? How many had rent their sleeves and dusted their heads with the ash of their lives–only to be told that their tears meant nothing in the face of one man’s need or another man’s feeling? How many women have gone dim from hiding the little light they had left? How many have died from eating their sorrows until their hearts exploded, their blood vessels burst in their heads?
Like Tamar, we rent our clothes and weep aloud only to be told to hush. Stop crying. Put away your grief. Hide your pain. Quiet your suffering. It is inconvenient. It is uncomfortable. It is unwanted.
But oh. It is necessary.
I intended for this to be a Sunday Sermon; instead it demanded to be a lament. And my words are meant to answer the question: Who will cry for Tamar? Because I am and I will and I do. I don’t just cry for Tamar, I cry with her. Because I know her pain and I know what she needs to heal.
Tamar lives on in me, drawing breath each time I declare, “I have value.” Each time I demonstrate to another woman that I see her. Each time I take time to listen to another story of brokenness. Each time I look into eyes wide with unspoken trauma. Each time I wrap my arms around a little girl and speak into ears the love of Christ, “You are special. You are worthy. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God’s love is for you.”
So whether the world acknowledges us or no, we must acknowledge each other. Tamar had to carry her burdens alone, sequestered in her brother’s house away from the support of women. Our sisters should not have to near the same fate of being separated from support. We must defend womanhood, black womanhood by being present and accountable for its most vulnerable iterations. M