( photo by: Me.Mae. I)
Ooh, she may be weary
And young girls, they do get wearied
Wearing that same old shaggy dress, yeah
But when she gets weary
Try a little tenderness, yeah, yeah
You know she’s waiting
The thing that she’ll never, never, never, never possess, yeah, yeah
But while she’s there waiting, and without them
Try a little tenderness
I feel like Otis Redding was onto something. Many of times this song is understood as a way to get to a girl and how to keep her. Which, this day in age is muneeded as the dating streets are rougher than rough. But I think Redding provides a radical pedagogy in how to care for a black female body, that might have been otherwise ignored.
This idea of weary has also shown up this year in Solange’s ‘A Seat at The Table’, where she warned us about the ways of the world. How we are almost always tired of having to fight, explain, hell sometimes even showing up to class is a struggle. Black people, black women are tired . To constantly have to put up with disrespect and all the other things that come with oppression of the body and the soul.
So what happens when people are tired, and you keep waking them up before they are ready or have had the opportunity to rest? They get cranky, short tempered and ill-mannered. Now throw deliberate obstacles, racial oppression and dehumanizing frameworks on top of that. For me I believe that black women are often painting and misunderstood as aggressive and angry, who wouldn’t be after all of that? I personally think that black women are tender.
noun noun: tenderness; plural noun: tendernesses gentleness and kindness.”he picked her up in his arms with great tenderness”
sensitivity to pain.”abdominal tenderness”
i would like to focus on the elements of tenderness in black wimmin, in the definition above the word gentle and kindness come up. that is not to say that those things are not true and do not exist but, in our society when we think of womyn we think of the social construction of what a womyn is supposed to be, then as a black womyn i think about the stereotypes that are equated to black wimmin. loud aggressive and angry. i think all of these emotions are all very reactionary, in my thoughts… i try to understand why that is the case. “sensitivity to pain”. the sensitivity strikes something in me that i cannot explain, and i realize that that in itself is a sensitivity. the black woman is sensitive to pain. her tenderness is just that. when i think about the stereotypes, i try to understand the levels in which those things might come forward. initiation tells me they are coping mechanisms that work solely for function, i try to figure out how i can properly. illustrate that. i think of pain as a four letter word that comes and goes, a word i know all too well and still not at all because it’s always new, but familiar friend. i think of generational pain, and generational trauma.
That’s all you gotta do
It’s not just sentimental, no, no, no
She has her grief and care, yeah yeah yeah
But the soft words, they are spoke so gentle, yeah
It makes it easier
Easier to bear, yeah
2016 also seemed to be the year where black women everywhere were trying to find their tokens of freedom, revolt and radical self-care. It was a year of black women trying to find the things that makes the weight of the world, easier to bear. We have learned in using the right language, understanding that it is something deeper than just her personally being sensitive, but there a legitimate reason that black women are experiencing hurt on a regular basis. To be a black woman, means to constantly have the urge to protect what is our, knowing very well that our bodies are no ones of value. Being at the bottom of the social ladder for multiple reasons, allows black woman to move with a freedom of truly not giving a fuck, though even that is a hard stance to take. Because in that mindframe, we often forget to take care of ourselves and we get lost. Thus, we as black women need to be shown some tenderness, for the times when the struggle consumes us and we can’t bring ourselves back down. When we lose our strength and return home to find no body there. By supporting the black women around you in whatever way she may need you are doing her a favor taking a bit of the burden off of her back and giving her space and time to heal and revive, making it all easier to bear.
You won’t regret it, no no
Young girls, they don’t forget it
Love is their whole happiness, yeah
But it’s all so easy
All you got to do is try, try a little, tenderness yeah
All you’ve gotta do is, man
So, my advice to anyone trying to live a better life that is more appreciative of the black women around you, or black woman who are learning how to protect and sustain their bodies, I would point you to Otis Redding and try a little tenderness.