Embracing the Dark

I am an angry Black Womxn because white people keep showing me why I need to stay mad. ~ Gaian Bird

From Inside
Image Credit: Gaian Bird


Always reading Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It’s one of those books like a holy scripture for me. In those lists of the the top three or four people you would spend the day with if you could, that woman is right there with Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, and Alice Walker.  What I love most about her writing is the way she embraces, even exalts and revels in the Darkness, the Wild and the Untamed. She groks these places to be the strength of the female soul. As a Black Womxn, Darkness is where my soul lives and breathes. My Blackness, my Dark nature is where my beauty resides. I know this because the system of white supremacy is designed to destroy it at every breath.

Darkness is pure potential and the place from where Light emerges. The mysteries of my Ancestors were steeped in a basic understanding that there is no Light without Dark. There is no balance. Even seeds cannot begin to grow without the Dark.

Here’s a core of truth from Estes’ words: in order to be whole and in touch with all we are as women, we must embrace the Dark within us, be able to look with fully opened eyes at what we find in our Dark and stand unflinching. In this culture I have been taught to hate my Blackness, my Darkness. It has been pushed, hounded, whitewashed, and yes, beaten out me until I was little more than a husk of a soul.

My Blackness has been fetishized and reduced to archetypical stereotypes. I have been the Many-Breasted Mother, the Caregiver, The Healer, The Grandmother Soul, The Sacred Whore.  I have been these personas twisted around and given to me through the legacy of chattle slavery and so they have been tainted and contaminated to bring out the weakness and the worst inside of me. These Spirits have left me hollowed out and empty even as I am magnetically drawn to be in their energy.  Yet, the Warrior Goddess, Daughter of Oya and Kali, La Loba, Baba Yaga also have been in my Dark, pushed down, crammed into the cobwebs of my Spirit. These Dark Womxn have always been there with bright blades singing and sharp fangs shining, and keen intellect and intuition waiting. They have labeled “pushy”, “aggressive”, “angry” “mean”, “scary”, “loud”, “sassy”, “foul-mouthed”, “low class”.  Lately, my Dark Womxn have been showing themselves in dreams and in the smoldering anger that curls around my insides “for no reason at all.”

Of course, there is a reason. I need them now. I need the ugly hags of my dark places, the ones I keep hidden because people will think I am not “nice.” They won’t like me and I want people to like me.  I had been carefully and fully indoctrinated to never ever be the “angry Black woman.” In the world of respectability politics, that is the one woman I was terrified to be, ashamed to be. I was ashamed to be the one to bring the label to other Black women because white supremacy paints all of us with the same broad brush. The look of smug gratification on white women’s faces whenever I pushed back in an assertive way was enough to keep me policing my words and emotions for most of my life.  My anger was the autoswitch for white women to withdraw the drop of pretense of seeing or hearing me.

In this stage of my life I have come to know that my strength is not only in bearing and enduring, but it is also in reclaiming what has been taken from me. People have always told me how sweet natured, how kind, how calming and loving I am. This is because I only showed them this face of me.  Hiding my anger does not serve me. So yes, Oya’s bullwhip of Lightning and Wind has been in my dreams and bone music plays over the carnage and destruction. Monsters run amok and there are rivers of blood. In a very Jungian way, this part of me has been calling to be embraced, transformed and incorporated into the all of who I am.

I see the transformation and newly blossoming Dark Reina. I don’t hide my anger from white people. I don’t care what they think of me when I speak my truth to their ignorance and their violence. I am not interested in collecting admirers and accolades of respect. I am deeply committed to living without shame and in the joy of my full being. I laugh loudly and in public places. I correct rude cashiers and nurses swiftly and candidly. I point line cutters to the back end quickly and when they tell me I’m mean, I say, “Yep.”  In social justice spaces, I have been slammed by white fragility and white women’s tears and I have spoken up anyway. The fact that I was shut out of those same spaces has less to do with me than it is a testament to the resiliency of white supremacy. I have lost nothing from being out of those spaces except numbers from my blood pressure readings.

It’s been many years of soul work with teachers and guides that  have shown me how to not be swallowed whole. Even longer it has taken to come to terms with the truth: the dark monster in me is no monster at all. The fact that my dreams are full of La Loba–the Wolf Woman, the Dark Goddess, the one who gathers bones and sings them into Life, is a sign that I have come to the place of looking at  all of my Blackness full in its face without turning away. white supremacy and its agents would have me cut off my self from my self. Why? Because anger is a powerful catalyst. Righteous anger breeds an unstoppable resistance to oppression. As I understand this fully I understand why it is so important to white people that I silence my anger.  So I speak. I write. I live outloud. I am renewing, re-imagining what white supremacy has twisted into a tenebrous lusus naturae of spirit into a power that makes me more of who I am.

Compensate Gaian Bird, Writer

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