Umbra For Black Womxn

Umbra is dedicated to your existence and your experiences.

Far too often, you are overlooked, ignored, and interrupted. It is my hope that in this exhibit you feel centered, validated, and heard.

Intersectionality has been co-opted by the ignorant and privileged. In reality, intersectionality was created in response to the unique racist, sexist, and classist experiences that you go through everyday. Whether it be the racial gaze and awe of your magic, adultification bias, police brutality, sexism within religious institutions, feeling the obligation to save everyone but yourself, apologizing for the guilt and fragility of White women, dying at the hands of biased doctors, being angry (and rightfully so), fighting so hard you have nothing left to give, or fixing this horrible world you didn’t even create– YOUR EXPERIENCES ARE REAL. And even though this system was created to erase your existence, you are seen.

Your call to action throughout this zine, beautiful Black womxn, is to breathe deeply, smile big, cry when needed, and write about your experiences. Your call to action after viewing this exhibit is to breathe deeply, smile big, cry when needed, and find joy. You deserve joy, Black womxn.


Cookie Cutter Becky

They’re intimidated by your mere presence. You stand out in this sea of Whiteness and no amount of makeup, hair straightening, or vocal tone changes will make a difference. And what’s worse is, they deny their uncomfortability while they clutch their purses and ask, for the hundredth time, what your credentials are. You cannot help their socialized fear of your embodied greatness. Just roll your eyes at their stupidity, raise your head above their foolery, and be proud Black womxn.


Were We Ever Children?

I remember being told that I had child bearing hips in sixth grade by my White male youth pastor. And I know all too well that you had and have experiences like this too. From that weird family friend or your gross employer. And I know you still feel it, because I feel it too. It’s the weight of societal standards that tell you you’re something you’re not, and wasn’t even trying to be. The expectations that lead them to believe your abuser over you. This shouldn’t be happening, we never asked for this, but it is happening, and I believe you.


Lynched By Police

Everyday we wake up, there is another one of us who didn’t. At the hands of corrupt law(men) we continue our stroll to an unprovoked death row. We’ve never felt protected in the presence of police, yet they insist they take up our spaces to help us stay “safe.” And when we are murdered by the hands of cops, White folks tell us how we “should have” acted rather than validating the systemic racism that allowed the situation to present itself in the first place. How can we resist this kind of brutality when we’ve already been sentenced to death at birth?


Sacred Sexism

A slip and panty hose are how we were told to guard ourselves from the sexual desire of man– even in the lawd’s house! Elders scolded us because the mere existence of our bodies was an invitation to unwanted and apparently deserved sexual advances. We were told to follow White Jesus, and live up to a “respectable” standard we could never achieve. It’s weird how Black womxn are the consistent backbone of the church, yet never leading it. The “holy” church is no more liberating than the prisons of our society– an exclusionary, poverty-empowering tool of internalized oppression. 


Help Me, Help You

This is what happens when our oppressors come into our organizing spaces to ask us for help. They are sinking and they need us to keep them stay afloat. So, we’re constantly asked to be on some committee or serve on some task force for the “diversity” and “inclusion” that they don’t actually want . And what’s worse, is that it’s usually a part of the White person’s paying job to do this “task” but you have to show up for free as a “community representative.” Because they “need” you. And once you’ve been culturally taxed to the max for your ideas on how to solve their racist and sexist policies, they take the credit and pat themselves on the back for their efforts. And let’s not forget, men of color do this too. They act like they aren’t a part of the problem. They hold on to the expectations that we must always show up for them, while they never show up for us. I beg you, Black womxn, say no to their pleas to use your talents for free and to help them “help you.” IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FIX THEIR RACIST AND SEXIST ISSUES. 


I’m Not Sorry for My Blackness

These White womxn really try us, don’t they? They walk into meetings with us, telling us they have our back, but when it’s time to show up, they cower. We must continually remind them that we aren’t just a womxn, but we’re Black too, and they just don’t get it. They can’t “understand” our experiences, so they don’t fight for us. But, oh when it’s time to show up for womxn everywhere, they expect us there in a movement we’ve never been included in. And when we express our concerns, it’s not in the right way. We haven’t coddled their White fragility to their liking. For some reason they need us to apologize for the torment we experience everyday that makes our lives the way it is and our passion show up in this world different from theirs. They really want our apology. When can we expect these treacherous White womxn to show up for us? I know I’m tired of waiting, how about you? 


Trigger Warning

The stress of racism and sexism affects us like no other being on this planet. Our bodies are holding historic trauma so deep that our genes are weathering at a rate much faster than our White counterparts. So when we go to bring life into this world, its like our bodies are 10 years older than we actually are. And on top of that, the health disparities for pregnant Black womxn have us dying at a rate 3 times higher because these racist doctors simply don’t believe us. And when we do have a successful birth, we birth out this historical trauma and pass it on to the next generation. The trauma of rape, abuse, and mistreatment. Our experiences aren’t forgotten– although they’d like us to think it is– they live in our bones. I can feel it, and I know you feel it too.


Don’t Tell Me to Calm Down

Some nerve they have. How the fuck they gon’ tell us not to be angry? Be angry, Black womxn, be fucking angry! They are perpetually working against our existence, yet they expect us to be happy we’re able to work for their oppressive institution. They make us the lead on their “diversity and inclusion” initiative, but don’t give us any power to enact real change. They love our hair but culturally appropriate our styles.  Never laughing with us, but at us– never taking us seriously. They second guess our abilities and don’t trust our resiliency to make shit happen. They kill us in our own homes and tell us we’re not protesting correctly. Fuck their respectability! Shit… fuck them. No more working around them, let’s go right through their bullshit. Then find joy, Black womxn. Find joy wherever the fuck it may be.


To The Marrow

We’ve been tasked as the liberators for our generation. We didn’t ask for this. But we do it anyway, just to survive in this world. And when we’ve gotten one step closer, we’re moved ten steps back. Perpetually pushed by a system we had no choice but to belong to. But we persist. We continue to rise through the systems built to destroy us. We continue to show up in their spaces, to denormalize their dominant narratives. And we continue to fight for our lives, our children’s lives, and the equity of all marginalized people. 



Just for a moment, put down the weight you’ve been forced to carry. The impossibility of holding up a broken system while creating a new one. The weight of holding the family together when you’re breaking inside. The weight of racism, sexism, and classism you experience every day. The weight of the fight for the liberation of our people. The weight of creating a new world where you can live free from the harm of White supremacy and patriarchy. Put it all down Black womxn, you deserve joy.


Freedom, Finally

I’d imagine when we’re free, that we’d have the ability to just be. To be our full (and I do mean full) selves, occupying all spaces with all our glory. I’d imagine we could exist in a space that honors our Blackness, our womxnhood, and our sexuality. I’d imagine we could birth children free from trauma. I’d imagine we could speak ideas that are valued (and funded) by institutions with leadership that reflects our identities and perspectives. I’d imagine we’d feel beautiful, because we’d be included in the narrative of beauty. I’d imagine we wouldn’t experience the harmful experiences presented in this show. Just imagine it.



I asked myself what true liberation looked like. True liberation from hate-infested policies and violence against Black womxn. A liberation that cares for us, invests in us, and listens to us. A liberation without police, prisons, and oppressive religious institutions. To be honest, because true liberation is so far away, I couldn’t even visualize it. I just know what with each action and brush stroke I take, I’m helping to create that future.

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