This post is the long overdue conclusion to my series on the “Black Woman Stages of Grief”. You can see Part I and Part II here.
I think this took so long both because I’ve been busy and because it is probably a post I’ve thought long and hard about. Not every black woman agrees on what “acceptance” is…or has the most functional ideal regarding what one should come to accept.
But ultimately it’s hoped what will be discussed in this final post on the matter will help in defining attainable closure and moving forward.
To accept something is to come to terms with it; you have made the knowledge of it a permanent part of your reality. When you truly accept an event or person as is, there is no going back. You cannot backpedal from the acceptance stage to the denial stage.
That’s why this stage is probably the hardest for anyone to reach.
For some black women, acceptance means a huge load has been figuratively lifted from their hearts and shoulders. For others, it’s a scary new world. It means taking responsibility for one’s thoughts and actions. It means resisting the instinct to come running when people call you. It means…freedom.
It was Harriet Tubman that said, “I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
Sadly, not everyone is ready for freedom. Not even all these many decades after slavery ended. This is why some black people speak of it in present tense. This is why some black people continue to use words like “slaves” and “slave master”, even if the white person they’re addressing had a family that never owned slaves. Some white people BELIEVE IT OR NOT actually was part of a group that actively opposed it. So no, not every white person was down with slavery just like not every slave was down with freedom.
But that is neither here nor there.
The point is to accept who you are as an African American woman means both freedom and being responsible for yourself and your actions. It also means not waiting for other groups to tell you when you have done enough to be free of them. It means not being beholden to voices and structures that require your blood and sweat, but are not required to pay for your services.
Do you accept responsibility for your own life and choices? Do you accept that being mobile means you don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission and approval to leave the plantation?
Then you are ready to move on, and can do so whenever you’re ready.
Please do not be duped by DBR trolls who try to convince you that the only proof that one can provide of being in this place is to never discuss dysfunction or ever vocalize a negative opinion of trifling individuals. Some people who are at the acceptance stage feel no need to engage in topics dealing with damaged fools maintaining the status quo. They accept it as reality and it’s simply something they don’t have time and won’t make time for.
However, sometimes acceptance simply means being able to recognize dysfunction for what it is, call it as it is, and not feel obligated to sugarcoat it. When one doesn’t have to do a mental or emotional dance for the bullcrap that is associated with the black community, they are effectively free. And sharing is caring.
And it’s the “sharing” that pisses off the trolls. They want you to shut up, lest other people still mentally caught up and wasting valuable time and resources wake up and make for the exit.
Any of the other four stages, to re-emphasize that point and force a bit of self-reflection and honesty. Only YOU know where you are mentally and emotionally no matter what you say to others, self included:
– Acceptance is NOT being in a state of denial. If you are making a conscious effort to play down or ignore what’s happening to and around you as a black woman, you simply cannot claim to be at the acceptance stage. Well you can, it would be an inauthentic statement.
– Acceptance is NOT a constant state of anger over how you are treated as a black woman. You don’t have to accept how you are treated; you simply have to accept that these persons will not change, and you are wasting your time and energy fighting with them about their damaged behavior. MOVE ON. When you’ve moved on mentally and emotionally, you are beyond validation-seeking behaviors and these negative sources have little or no power over you.
– Acceptance means you don’t have to bargain, beg or make disclaimers. It is what it is, and knowing this means you are no longer obligated to mentally break down boundaries to make room for someone else’s abuse or hatred of you. You don’t have to take it, you don’t have to stand for it. And that is all there is to it.
– The acceptance state isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s not an immobile depression. When you are at the stage where you finally accept reality as a black woman, it can be scary, but you have choices. You have freedom. You can move forward and NOT feel you have to be beholden to negative sources. You are neither hopeless nor helpless. And the further you move from negative persons and experiences, the greater the peace you know and the happier you’ll be. Difficult as it is, emotionally a great weight is lifted.
There are many black women who claim to be at this stage, but the truth is it is VERY difficult to reach and not everybody who thinks they’re there actually is. Some behaviors and thought patterns are SO ingrained in black women, particularly African American woman, that it is hell to stop them.
When you’re conditioned to think “it’s all on you” and you can’t stop playing the role of Atlas until someone gives you permission, it can be hard comprehend that these people do not have the power to keep you from putting the world down and walking away*.
It’s not really YOUR world – it’s everyone else’s. And I think that’s the hardest part to get past. Coupled with being duped, robed, mentally and emotionally manipulated, and consciously made to feel “not good enough” by people who claim to love you so much. The “we’re all in this together” line is finally seen for the lie it is, but one may have to go through a lot of changes to mentally accept this.
There are many ways that black women grieve over all the terrible things that happen to us or are said about us even by people who are supposed to be on our side. But at least at this final stop, black women can take a long sigh of relief and let go.
That’s all it is in the end, letting go of the baggage because it isn’t yours. It NEVER belong to you. Just leave it on the seat next to you and exit the crazy train.