These tears

When we find our own dignity, we learn how to find the dignity in others.

As a woman, I’ve experienced the internalizing of outside opinions. I’m especially sensitive to them and accept them without conscious thought. I have been and still am unknowingly obedient and accommodating. When we seek our own dignity, we do so for those around us; over issues of race, gender, intelligence, homelessness, wealth, or anything other distinguishing mark. When we find our own dignity, we learn how to find the dignity in others. As a woman, my experience of emotion has been complex. I’m ashamed to shed tears in public but will inevitably cry in times of stress, anger, and, even joy. I’ve been told that this shows weakness and that it confirms that women are weak. I’ve reframed this for myself. Tears are not weak but are true. They show a courage of expression and they describe a complex array of emotions. They certainly reveal something about me, but I wouldn’t call it weakness.


These Tears

If you look at my tears

and think, “How weak,”

you’d be wrong.

These tears

are angry.

These tears

are frustrated.

These tears are saying,

“This is not right!”

I have cried the tears

of the powerless.

The ones that fell

when I have been told

to stand

in this place.

Stand here;

learn this place

because it is yours.

Now, stand still.

These sharp sticks

won’t hurt a bit.

I have cried the tears

of the helpless.

When I agreed with you.

When I knew my place was here.

When I knew how to stand still.

When the sharp sticks

were just part of life.

But the untamed knew better.

The wild bit and clawed;

exploding anger and havoc.

Till I grew tired

of being attacked both inside and out.

Till I stepped out of my place

and let the wild out.

How foolish of you

now

To think my tears are weak.

I

will tell

you

what they are.

they are sorrow

for what has been.

They are rage

for what has been.

They are action

for what will be.

I won’t begrudge my pain

it’s expression

because you are weak.


To read an excerpt of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”, click here.

I found this image posted in a scene from "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, " There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth."