News flash: I’m black.
If my cocoa skin and afro didn’t give it away, I wanted to make sure I acknowledged this for you, so you’re sure. Being an African American woman in America means I don’t have the luxury to forget what and who I am. I see it everyday. I encounter people who remind me of who and what I am everyday. I’m black, and that’s that.
The thing about being a black woman is we’re always thinking about who to trust, and who to set boundaries with. In my mind I tend to take it to a morbid place. Yes, I know that’s probably not the best way to do it, but this is how I keep my circle of friends true. In the event of my death, who would be there to keep my memory alive? Actually, if I lost my life in a hate crime, who would shout out loud for me? Who would get angry? Who would advocate for me and my family? These are the questions black women ask themselves. We want to know who’s really here for us.
Who are my hell-raisers?
That’s the big question I ask. Every few months, I think of my close friends. I pretend to hold each of them in my hand, and I ask them “are you my hell-raiser?” If I can envision them standing in front of crowds, podiums, vile people of this world, and speaking my name and telling my story, then they are my hell-raisers.
I need you to understand this part. I need you to get what I’m saying here. As an African American woman, this is what I have to think about before I make friends. Before I share my life stories with other women. I need advocates in my circle. Strong women with loud voices. Women who will get sh*t done for me, if I’m no longer here. Powerful women. If you aren’t one of these women, I can’t allow you in my circle.
Yes, that may seem harsh, but my life is on the line here. Everyday I spend in this country, my life is on the line. I need a tribe that sees me, Amiyrah, as an amazingly awesome black woman. I need you to see my color. My color is a big part of who I am, and it’s the part of me I need you to defend, if I’m ever murdered because of it.
My hell-raisers, they see me. All of me. My color, my passion, my love, my power. They provide a safe space for me. Every black woman needs their hell-raisers, and I thank God daily for mine.