And STILL, Breonna Taylor.

It’s July 2nd, 2020. And like I was saying, Breonna Taylor. I’m not feeling poetic. And I’m not feeling my normal, cheerful, hopeful and optimistic self.  Is it okay that I’m not okay? I am feeling what so many of us women are feeling right now, specifically what Black women are feeling right now. We are supposed to live in this fixed, natural state of being that is grounded in faith, strength, perseverance… determination. But what happens when we get tired? What happens when we become so exhausted by the news, daily life and expectations? Who holds space for our emotions? Who holds space for our full personality, spirit and humanity? Our good days as well as our bad? Who holds space for our needs and wants while truly seeing that our normal “default setting” is to put everyone else first?

Sometimes we don’t have the bandwidth to push through our pain, nor the desire to sit in our discomfort so that others can remain comfortable or have the patience to mentally unpack the microaggressions that are at the root of why there is a need for things like the CROWN Act. The CROWN Act movement was birthed in 2019 to help protect against discrimination in public schools and in the workplace simply stemming from wearing natural hair-based hairstyles. Even in all of its purposed validity, the underlying issues at play here that make this initiative necessary is set upon a narrative that continuously tells Black women to tone it down in one way or another. Or to take a backseat when we are the ones who should be driving. We are told in so many ways both loudly and in quiet that we are either too much or not enough. Too angry. Too sad. Too self-centered. Yet, STILL we rise. We rise to the moment. We rise, we pray then we put on our crowns. We promote self-care to each other because we understand the world is set up to push back against that. We have nurtured this world—we deserve nourishment as well. Each day we send group texts and dm’s that include videos and memes or quotes to those in our tribe— all in the hopes to uplift, bring a laugh, check-in, inform, empower and ultimately remind each other that WE GOT US. We got us no matter what life brings. And, most importantly, God has us.

I’ll share a poem that I wrote 2 years ago because it speaks to now. For me, it encapsulates a shared experience that is felt among many Black women in different ways as it relates to the label of STRONG. It is a label that we carry throughout our lives. Even within our independence and resilience we still need protection.

While this current awakening around Black lives feels different than other moments, it remains disheartening that we are in 2020 still fighting for TRUE liberty and justice for all. I don’t need to prove that our lives matter, our hair matters, our rest matters, our peace matters, our feelings matter. I am saying it is so. It is a fact. We matter. Our voices matter. Every nuanced beauty and complexity that rounds out the strength and vulnerability of Black womanhood matters. Wash, rinse, repeat. We matter.


Tiffany Reneé