I remind myself that I am not fragile
People will not tiptoe around me
My blackness is on full display
To complement my femininity
I attempted to understand you
I put my heart and mind in your shoes
And now it is pounding out of sync
To the rhythm of my blues
I am not supposed to be fragile
I am not expected to cry
But instead to throw back my shoulders
And hold my head up high
I am not considered fragile
I am the epitome of strength
Careful to not show my emotions
Careful to disregard the length
Of my pain, expected to be perfect
You seldom allowed the privilege of a mistake
I did it all in the right order
You never wondered if it made my mind break
Split my consciousness in two
The black, the female, in addition to
The wife and the mother,
The nurse, the friend,
The sister to a brother
And each title adds a brick to my back
Just as I attempt to swim
I am unable to be fragile
Even though my patience is wearing thin
Of being expected to get over the past
Expected to hide my pain
I pray that if I am reincarnated
Lord please don’t make me a Black woman again
Because I desperately NEED to be FRAGILE
To be handled with tenderness and love
To have my very soul caressed
And be praised as I am capable of
Such amazing and beautiful things
I need to be able to fully experience my pain
Instead of brushing it aside and acting
Like everything is okay
White girls want to be fragile like bombs
Not fragile like the flowers
Black girls aren’t even given the choice
Because our feelings simply don’t matter
We are and were never expected to be fragile

Copyright © 2022 by Ashanti Files. This poem originally appeared in For Colored Girls graphic novel. Used with permission of the author.