by LaShay Cunningham
I am the daughter of those who chose to survive.
I understand that trauma comes in small and large packages.
I understand that forgiveness is essential to healing.
I’ve learned that my time is limited and valuable, and won’t be wasted on low-value endeavors or people.
I’m not a good-time gal.
I am not your Black sidekick.
I’m not here to educate or comfort you.
I am a mother and a professional who chooses to survive and thrive in circumstances extraordinary or trivial. In the past year — amid a global pandemic — I lost a pregnancy, a job and a relationship. I learned a few things from those experiences — I’ll never trade my health or happiness for a paycheck again. I will not cling to anything or anyone that isn’t serving me. I choose me. I choose to focus on what I have and what I’ve gained, not what I lost.
Faith is not optional.
I am a woman with a discerning spirit. I’ve always recognized injustices. I was born into a world of injustice and from the day I first drew breath I was a threat to white patriarchal supremacy. Existing is enough work but when Black women stand up for themselves and speak out against their own oppression, the harshest backlash usually follows. In this way, liberation is exhausting and rest is a meticulous love practice.
Sometimes I burn out and that’s okay. I choose myself until the fatigue passes. I go within. I pray. Whether bogged down at the intersection of now and then...or never? Whether I don’t see it coming or I know it’s coming - I know that it will pass.
In the wake of a tumultuous period in my life and in the words of Rep. Maxine Waters, I “reclaim my time.” I’ve turned my garage into a home office and Afrocentric meditation space. I decorated the space with photos of my maternal ancestors, political posters and quotes. I stopped searching for a job and created one where I saw a need. And since a Black child cannot fully realize their humanity in the presence of whiteness, I keep my son close — unapologetically close. I started homeschooling.
I wear black almost exclusively. It’s the color that feels most powerful on my body. It is a capsule wardrobe that means fewer decisions for me in regards to my self-image.
I discovered John Coltrane, and his chaotic, emotive instrumentations still and fill my mind. Growth brings me joy so I now have 11 houseplants.
Now I’m actually a morning person without the dread of commuting to work every day.
Now I’m a professional who loves the work I’m doing. Now I’m free to pursue my greatest purposes and I feel more confident in this pursuit than ever before.
I make a habit these days of counting and naming my blessings. I love myself for all that I am and all that I’m not just as God loves me.
I look now toward the future riding out the pandemic with the people I love most.
What we focus on, grows.