serena
[Artwork by Nayomi Munaweera]

Serena, you asked for an apology.
We all owe you an apology.
We ought to be sorry.

You are a goddess-like human
with the fierceness of Kali
Strength of Shakti
And abundant beauty of Lakshmi
Instead of bowing down with
Offerings and prashad for her goddess-like humanity,
We vilify you.
We call you names
when we ought to celebrate and venerate you.
You are Kali, Lakshmi and Shakti personified.

I apologize.
I apologize for all the misogynoir you encounter
in your life daily.
I am sorry that brown folks like me
add weight to your burdens heavy.
Instead of turning the scales
of racism and justice.

We call you names.
We call you emotional.
We deny the heavy injustices you bear.
I am sorry we tone police you.
I regret that we gaslight you.
I see how we align with whiteness
to collude against you.

It tears me up that we do not honor your dignity
or affirm your humanity.

I am so sorry we do not look in the mirror
to unlearn our anti-Blackness.
I confess that our internalized patriarchy silences us
into complicity.
It burns me up that we replicate the status-quo
upholding commentary to harm, vilify and otherwise amplify
your weight pain.

I wish we would stop.
I apologize with my broken heart.
I vow to do better.
I swear I will educate my own and refuse to tolerate our misogynoir.
I will keep doing my own work to affirm your dignity and humanity.

This isn’t just about Serena.
Apologies.
I apologize to all the Black women and Serenas in my life.
I am sorry for being part of the problem.

I promise to honor your dignity
affirm your humanity
and venerate you like a diety.

Author’s note: “misogynoir” is a term black feminist scholar and professor Moya Bailey invented to describe the specific way racism and misogyny combine to oppress black women.


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