Personal Essay

Why I’m Choosing to Write for BlackWifeLife

“Black women have had to develop a larger vision of our society than perhaps any other group. They have had to understand white men, white women, and black men. And they have had to understand themselves. When black women win victories, it is a boost for virtually every segment of society.”  – Angela Davis

In loving memory of Breonna Taylor.

I thought I understood Black women. I grew up one of three sons to a mother who loved us with all of her heart. She gave everything she had to ensure that we were safe, and that we had opportunities to be successful. She also raised us to respect Black women, which always felt like enough. I received my bachelors degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan. I married my wife, a beautiful and successful Black woman at age 29. It wasn’t until I looked around my home, seeing the plight of my partner and my two Black daughters, that I realized that I had much more work to do. 

For me, writing for BlackWifeLife presents a small opportunity to do some of my work to fight for Black women. 

Typically, everything I write focuses in some way with sports. The beginning of my exploration into the world of creative journalism came in high school as a sports reporter. I loved sports and I was a decent writer. Years later I began my own blog centered on the intersection of race and sports and continued producing similar content for The Sports Fan Journal. Discussing sports is a comfort zone. Providing discourse that analyzes the role I play as an advocate, protector, partner, and champion for Black women should prove to be much more of a challenge, but one that I am committed to tackling. Because if we truly believe Angela Davis, that “when Black women win victories, it is a boost for virtually every segment of society,” then we all must do more to ensure that Black women experience more victories. And, I have three very personal reasons to help safeguard the path to victory for Black women. 

To say that the hashtag #ProtectBlackWomen has picked up steam recently is a gross understatement. It has become more of a mandate for all people, especially Black men, than it is a statement or an ask. It exists as a call to action for everyone, stating that the status quo which has existed for decades will not be tolerated or accepted. We can no longer seek comfort under a veil of ignorance while Black women are being marginalized, assaulted, and murdered right in front of our eyes.

Breonna Taylor deserved protection and justice. Neither were afforded to her. Photograph: Courtesy of Family of Breonna Taylor/AFP via Getty Images

Essence has published an entire series dedicated to this calling. Appropriately titled Protect Black Women and Girls, this project features essays and opinion pieces from some amazing Black women voices from the accomplished Kimberlé Crenshaw to the heroic Tarana Burke, with topics ranging from the justice we are still seeking for the inexcusably slain Breonna Taylor, to the tragic death of Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, a 19 year-old activist and student who died at the hands of an abuser after no one responded to her pleas for assistance, to the gut wrenching essay of a woman who, while being badly assaulted by her boyfriend still chose not to call the police because of her fear of police and a justice system that harms Black bodies.

Author Ida Harris writes the following in her piece:

“Not once did I consider calling the police. Not the day I sat in class when a school administrator delivered a note to inform me I had a persistent visitor waiting outside with a bouquet of roses. Not the day I received 37 phone calls in five hours at my workplace. Not even on the day he confronted me at my home, yanked 120 braids from my scalp and beat my 135-pound body bloody. The result of me clinging desperately to the iron railing beneath the bed, where I hid to escape him, were four severed tendons in my left hand. The metal sliced into my fingers as he dragged me from my cover. Still, I never considered calling the cops.”

My perspective drastically changed over the past few years which sparked a transition in my creative interests. For three years I practiced clinical therapy as a licensed clinical social worker. Most of my clients were women in their young and middle adulthood stages, and most of the stories centered around someone in their lives failing to protect them, fight for them, and the strength, resilience and resolve they displayed to become successful and to stay whole. I heard the stories of my wife fighting for her voice daily at work in an affordable housing industry that is filled with white men. Regardless of her Ivy League credentials and the fact that she was smarter than most of the people in the room, she had to battle to be heard in rooms littered with white men who consistently failed up. 

Once my first daughter was born, all of the books and articles from my women’s studies courses, the testimonies of the women in my counseling sessions, the challenges my wife overcame all began to connect. I realized my daughter could be any of those women. She could be my wife. She could be Toyin. She could be Ida Harris. She could be Tarana Burke. She could be Breonna Taylor. Realizing this, my work, my voice, my mission quickly pivoted, and BlackWifeLife represents the next phase of this transition. 

Recently on my podcast Our Time w/ J. and Dre, my friend and co-creator Dre discussed some of the complexities in the relationship between Black men and Black women. We did our best to tackle some large issues knowing that we could never do this topic justice in only 90 minutes. 

Still, we wanted to make sure that we gave a voice to our Black women and a call to everyone else to do the work necessary to provide protection, love, and support. It is a small gesture, but one that I hope is merely a stepping stone in a mountain of work for which I am responsible.  

I’m looking forward to experiencing this journey with each of you. I hope my words on this platform accomplish two specific goals–that my vulnerability and insight offers a unique perspective into contemporary topics around Blackness, relationships, and parenthood. I also want to challenge Black men to find ways to work towards Davis’ mission. Without us taking up a flag and championing this fight, it makes the hurdle that much larger. It literally takes all of us as Black people to win this battle. I want my daughters to see those victories. I want your daughters, nieces, partners and friends to see those victories. BlackWifeLife is but another round in my fight for these victories. And in the end, we all learn, we all grow, and we all win.  

Thank you for reading. The journey continues.

Jmal CW
@ourtimewithjanddre. Husband. Father. Activist. Let's get it!

1 Comment

  1. This was an awesome read man. You have me thinking about what I can do to protect, and uplift the black women who are involved in my life more.

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