A Love Letter to Black Women
By Willow Cioppa
CW: Alcohol mention
I realized I should give up tequila shots when I was sitting outside of the club on a Thursday, crying about a DJ. My eyes burned and I don’t know if it was because I had gotten eyelash extensions earlier that day or if it was the tequila leaking from my liver to my eyes, but needless to say, I was not looking my best.
It was not the first time I’d cried over a DJ but it was, by far, the most embarrassing occasion. He was hot, sure. I liked the way he talked about Black reparations and in many ways he made me feel smart. He told me I was the only person he could have deep conversations with. I have now realized that I simply allowed myself to be the person who would lay in bed with him until 2 AM, listening to him lament while I tried not to fall asleep.
The original sin was that he didn’t believe in intersectionality. He felt my advocacy of Black feminism was divisive and that encouraging Black men to shed their toxic misconceptions about their own emotions equated to me being a misandrist. He traced the roots of my queerness to my having been raised surrounded by drag queens. He told me that my boundaries inconvenienced him and that he didn’t want the “games.” When I would become emotional about past trauma, he would tell me to cry in the bathroom so he didn’t have to hear it.
Sitting outside the club, I felt like the ratchet Black girl taking up space; my overpriced eyelashes tumbling over my cheeks and my nails snapping off from being chewed off by the anxiety: I was feeling the ramifications of an abusive breakup, punctuated by the realization that just because he pretended he was down for Black liberation did not mean that his liberation included mine.
He had taught me to be quiet and, after spending over half of 2019 becoming small to make room for his ego, I realized that I could give myself permission to be loud. It’s almost frightening -- the freedom -- when you discover that you are no longer obligated to stay silent while he listens to his Hotep-adjacent podcasts and demands to pick the pizza toppings for the third night in a row.
And though I’ve spent 386 words talking about him, this piece is not his. It is not about him. It’s about me. It’s finally about me. And it’s about Black love that goes beyond swallowing yourself whole to hold space for the trauma of men who refuse to listen to you. You deserve to be heard.
This is a love letter to Black women: for the ones who hold up everyone around them, even beyond the point of aching arms and broken backs. I see you and I hear you and I pray that you see yourself in these words and take them as a reminder that you deserve to feel valued. Our love is magnificent -- it builds nations and heals communities. I learned, through loving this DJ, how willing I was to give up my own well-being in order to please him. I loved him. I didn’t quite understand it, but I did: I wanted him to feel supported but often forgot that I long to feel supported, too. You long to feel supported, too, and you deserve that. You are owed that. It is yours to demand.
Blackness is nuanced. I am a human, too. My existence is detailed by intersections. I am Black, I am a Black woman, I am a queer Black woman, I am a queer, Black disabled woman, I am a queer, Black, disabled woman of mixed race experience. I am a whole person, who loves and asks to be loved in return.
It was a Black woman who sat with me as I cried outside the club. In my ugliest state, she supported me and I was reminded of the power we have to care for those around us. Thank you, I am better because of you.
Willow Cioppa is an interdisciplinary artist and writer based in Montreal, Quebec. They are passionate about many things, including, but not limited to, rap music and the social, political, economic uprising of the Black population.