Welcome to Written By Black Women
I kept my grandmothers empty bottle of castor oil for 3 years after she died. I looked at it every morning and thought about how this little empty bottle meant so much to me. How it had no significance to anyone else except a memory of what used to be. I guess in that way, me and the people who were perplexed at my audacity to keep something useless, had that in common... A reflection of the past. To them it was castor oil, to me it was my Madears kitchen on Martin Luther King Drive, where my Bigma brought me every two weeks; there my kinky edges were pressed by a comb she cooked on a stove eye.I can still smell my hair frying in the Gary air.
After my Bigma died in 2017 my life changed so drastically. I don’t think I’ve ever been as engulfed in the glee of Black womanhood as when I walked past her body extended across the church alter. She was smiling. I wondered if it was because she had lived a life of such spectacle and wonder, that in her dying moments, she couldn’t help but to chuckle at her audacity to survive. I wondered, what had life been like for her before I knew her? Who really was this woman who dedicated 19 years of her life to me? Who was she before I was her responsibility? What was her story? I spent a great deal of my time sitting with the fact that I did not know enough about her. So like any reasonable inquisitive, fierce, nerdy, researcher. I started to ask the people closest to me questions. They did not have many answers.I hated the way they told her story. It was never full. There were always gaps in the story, spaces, question marks where experiences should be.
That lead me to where I am today. Im here because my favorite Black woman in the whole world has never had her story told in full. I hate the way they share her story. I hate the way we share the stories of black women. It’s so lazy. Half-assed. Only part of the story every time.
But, who are we if not multidimensional human beings with significant contributions to Women’s history, and Black history? Who are we if not women who have been given the last few scraps but still managed to make a decent meal? We are all of our stories. We are our light and our darkness.
I get pissed off just thinking about how little black women get to be, freely. We are not allowed to wear our skin. We are not allowed to wear our hair. We are not allowed to wear our bodies. And most importantly, we are not allowed to share our stories.
I wish from the bottom of my heart that my grandmother would’ve written a book about her life just so I could share her story with everyone, in her own words.
There are so many other Grandmothers, (or women who will eventually be somebody’s grandmother lol) who have already written out their stories. In their own words. I think it’s time we read them. That is why I created Written By Black Women.
Written By Black Women was created to share the stories of Black women, to discuss them, to read them, to amplify the voices of our sisters within our community. Far too often is school curriculum filled with white authors, far too often are revolutionary reading lists riddled with only male voices...but Black women write too. Their work is just as significant and deserves to be read.
I can only hope that one day, someone will keep my words and my story alive.
WBBW is a community where scholars can come and have broad discussions surrounding Black women and their stories. It is meant to be an open forum for all people of all ages to indulge in the joy of black womanhood together. Join Written By Black Women and join the community of scholars seeking to be empowered by the stories of Black women.