Black People Deserve Peace When We Are Living

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Takirra Winfield Dixon

Founder, Unapologetic Communications

In the fall, I went to the doctor for a routine appointment during a busy week of appointments to make sure I stay healthy. As a founder of my own firm, it’s often easy to put projects, clients, business and everything else before myself. While in the exam room, I continued making conversation with my doctor and then while performing my exam she said, “I feel something like a lump.” 

My world stopped. 

It didn’t matter who was texting me or what emails I was getting at that moment. My heart dropped to my feet. My doctor then says, “It’s okay. You’re fine. You just have some fibrous tissue so just keep an eye out in case there are changes.”  

I told her at the last appointment that I had been experiencing some pain during workouts, and she immediately connected the two and said these changes happen. 

I breathed a huge sigh of relief, finished up the exam, got my next appointment, walked to my car and opened the door, sat in the driver’s seat and sobbed. 

I am 38, a founder of a growing, thriving business with a lot of life left to live. It was so scary and traumatic, but it could have been much worse. Thank goodness for my Black doctor. She explained everything to me and kept me calm. But there are so many Black women who share their concerns with physicians and they never even bother to listen to our concerns. Even those who are supposed to “save” us can kill us. 

On the ride home, I turned on a random playlist to calm my nerves. Blasting through my speakers was Nas’ N.Y. State of Mind. I was bopping along to the classic when he effortlessly says, “I never sleep/’cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Those brilliant yet intricate words from his song have become a soundtrack for Black people in America. We labor. We agonize. We put our trauma aside. We never get to truly live. We then internalize the notion that we will rest when we die. 

After my health scare, I was expected to just keep moving – that’s what so many of us do. We just keep moving without taking the time to stop, reflect and think. 

Over the holidays, I was grateful to travel and to be able to listen to the waves during a much-deserved holiday break. But, I can’t help but think about how millions of Black people deserve this kind of peace…all the time. 

Black lives continue to be lost whether by senseless and preventable police violence or horrific racist mass shootings by white supremacists or because of systemic inequities and injustices that have taken our lives much too soon like high blood pressure or during childbirth in a health care system that was never built for us, or due to failed infrastructure in predominantly Black neighborhoods. Too often, once tragedy strikes, we hear recurring echoes of “Rest in Peace” or its infamous cousin “Rest in Power” that pacify us instead of actually acknowledging action for us. We are then bombarded with images and videos on social media and in the news that focus on Black death. 

I am a Black woman. Existing in America IS my survival. I rarely get moments to breathe without worry, to reflect on accomplishments, to plan for a future we all deserve or to spend extended quality time with loved ones. Black women are always fighting for someone, something, calling for something greater and freer than each of us. Lots of people we interact with daily expect us to save everyone and everything but ourselves. Black women have yet again shown up and out for American democracy, for our families, for our children and other children, and many times for those who refuse to show up for us or even respect our humanity. Fame and fortune do not save us either —  Megan Pete AKA Meg Thee Stallion went through hell just trying to speak her truth and live her life after trauma. We always sacrifice too much and get too little.  

But when is it time to save ourselves? When will we experience the peace and restoration I felt watching the waves consistently come and go? When will we experience the benefits of power beyond just wealth and capitalism? I am talking about being rich in our souls and in our lives. This cannot only be in our deaths. It must be while we are living. Even though we are told and taught to internalize otherwise, our lives are too valuable, too important, too worthy. 

For Black women, it is often hard to imagine a world where we are truly free and truly at peace. We put off until tomorrow not knowing if there is a tomorrow. It is time to choose ourselves for once. The systems we battle every day sadly will not change enough to protect us, to save us, to free us, to invest in us. There is no better example of this than the false promises “allies” made to us following the horrific murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and most recently, Tyre Nichols. We were told to sit tight and wait a minute. But we do not have time to spare. We have 1440 minutes in a day and every one of them is as valuable as our lives. We are hurting and we are suffering throughout all of our saving. So, NO, we will not wait. And before we choose to dim our own lights or wait for others to dim it, we should try to find the life within us.

Truthfully, we are everything we need and all we need. And Black women: We are enough. We are it. We are the saviors we seek. We are the grace we give to others. We are the light we search for every second of every day. We deserve the affirmation we give to everyone else but ourselves. 

In 2023 and beyond, it is long overdue for us to sit and take in the waves. Black people deserve the peace when we are living – not our hopes in a faith that we will get it when we cease to exist. 

Not for others, but for me: I am choosing to live.