Photographed by Anna Heyward

Oh, the complexities of being a woman.

While it is truly my greatest honor and joy to be one, it is also my greatest obstacle and heaviest burden as I get by in a man’s world.

It is a world where people find it more acceptable to recognize me as a singer or artist than an academic researcher or speaker.

It is a world wherein it feels necessary for me to constantly contemplate and get creative in justifying my value and my place as a woman, while it is a whole other thing to do so as one with brown skin and a petite body.

I live in a world that continues to insist that whenever the passivity of ghosting/abandonment or the direct acts of sexual, physical, or verbal harm are done against me, I am told that I set it up for myself.

I am told I’m either “too much” (too strong, too affectionate, too intellectual, too dolled up, too sensual, too reserved, too direct) or “not enough” (not strong enough, not affectionate enough, not intellectual enough, not dolled up enough, not sensual enough, not reserved enough, not direct enough).

In every sense, we bleed. We labor. We give life. How ardently I hope for life to be given back to us.