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  • Writer's pictureDr. Speshal Walker Gautier a.k.a. Dr. Spesh

Sis, Your life matters.

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

A few weeks ago, I started this blog for Black women focused on love and relationships. I hoped to create something focused on loving and caring for ourselves and opening ourselves up to love. Yet today I'm writing because I am painfully reminded about the lack of love and care granted to us as Black women.

Today feels especially hard to be a Black woman in America. As women, we recently lost Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, during a moment when the very rights she devoted her career to are in jeopardy. In what feels like a moment later, Black women, are now grappling with the news that the officers responsible for the killing of Breonna Taylor will not be charged for her death. Together these events remind me of the dual burden of being a Black woman in America. Breonna was asleep in her home when she was shot. In a similar tragedy last year, Atatiana Jefferson was in her home when a neighbor's call for a wellness check resulted in her being killed by police.

Black men and women are more likely to be killed by police than their White peers. Yet the killing of Black women at the hands of police is too often overlooked. Black women have historically been invisible in the fight for gender and racial equality. We are always showing up to support the cause while having our needs around discrimination and oppression overlooked. In too many ways we are told that we don't matter. We are told we don't matter in representations of beauty and worthiness of love with constant messages that Black women are undesirable. We are told we don't matter in our professions, devalued and underpaid in comparison to White women and men in general. We are told we don't matter through a lack of support despite our willingness to take care of others at our own expense. We are told we don’t matter as we die at alarming rates during childbirth. We are told we don't matter with regard to our mere existence and right to live with disproportionate rates of violence directed toward Black women who are more likely to be killed by the very officers intended to protect them. Yet here we are still showing up...

I recently had a conversation with one of my best friends about the preservation and self-preservation of Black women. We talked about the ways we continue to show up and are expected to show up in our relationships, our work, and our lives. We acknowledged the pressure to show up despite the pandemic around us disproportionately impacting Black people, despite being traumatized with the news and images of unarmed Black people being killed across the country, despite these unbearable consequences of systemic inequality layered on top of the routine stress of being Black in America. We talked about the price on the well-being of Black women especially in this moment when we are spent… weary, exhausted, and emotionally drained. We discussed the importance of setting and protecting emotional and physical boundaries because if nothing else we need to work on our self-preservation as Black women. Yet here we are still showing up…

There are many names of Black women to acknowledge. Yet I call attention to the murders of Breonna and Atatiana because of the irony of it all. Both of them were at home, a space where we hope to seek refuge and peace. Breonna, was sleeping, likely seeking a moment of restoration from her role as an EMT constantly caring for others. Atatiana should have had officers coming to check on her well-being. After all that’s what a wellness check is. Both of their stories highlight the challenge of self-preservation as Black women when we literally cannot rest and when there’s nobody to do a wellness check on us. Yet here we are still showing up…

Today I showed up. I’m guilty of it too. My job as a psychologist is creating space and taking care of the emotional needs of others. I love what I do, it’s what drew me to the field. Yet today I am tired. Recently I’ve been so tired that it feels hard to keep showing up. Today my morning started with the news and a discussion with my husband around what it’s going to take to stop the senseless killing of Black people. I then reported to the clinic while trying to hold back tears. I arrived and talked with a Black female colleague about how hard it was to come in today. She too was struggling but showed up all the same. Here we are still showing up…

It’s time to show up for ourselves. It’s time to prioritize our needs because contrary to all the messages around us, our lives matter Sis. Take time for yourself, take care of yourself. Maybe you need a quiet moment. Maybe you need a day, a few days, or some undetermined amount of time. Maybe it’s too painful to log on or go into work right now. Maybe you need to reach out and allow someone to take care of you. We’re all hurting, we are not okay, and this is my wellness check on you because you matter Sis.

For everyone else, it’s time to rally for Black women. It's time to show up for Black women like we show up for you.

*Dr. Spesh is an Atlanta based Clinical Psychologist, blogger, and diversity consultant.*

For more: Follow @Dr.Spesh on Instagram @sisbydrspesh on Facebook &

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