I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America began as a declaration of my own womanhood. It began as a reflection of who Black Women are – understanding fully what the world attempts to suppress – our mature humanity. The birthers and nurturers of all humanity.
From the beginning I wanted to share how Black Women see themselves in our own words. Societal and media messages destroy us before we even get started. Sometimes we’re stunted by our closest family and friends feeding us what they chose to believe from the negative things others told them about who they are. Stereotypes, curses, expectations, misunderstandings, traditions and ignorance are the foundation of many stories that never carry the voice of the women they describe. This book is the antithesis to all of that.
More than fifty women were photographed for this project. Each woman was asked to share a word they use to describe themselves. Their portraits make up the bulk of this book. A request for poetry and essays was also met with some very poignant pieces.
In an effort to eliminate the idea that Black Women’s voices have always been muted, I began searching for historic instances of Black Women speaking up for themselves – using their own voices to answer accusations and oppression. Some of my findings are interwoven throughout I AM WOMAN, merging the voices from the past with those of present day Black Women to amplify how strong and resilient we have always been and continue to be. Black Women are here to speak for ourselves. Here are some elements of our many stories in our own words.