After reading the news of For Brown Girls creator Karyn Washington’s passing, I immediately went to tapping away on the keys of my laptop. The late 22-year-old’s story of dedicating much of her daily life to empowering Black women, and even the possibility that she ended her own life, felt eerily familiar and close to home.
The peculiar thing about doing the work to uplift others is, the world often forgets that the worker also needs uplifting, that the work becomes heavy, that frequently the work is being performed to soothe one’s own soul. And that when one lives even a small portion of her life publicly, that public too often expects perfection. The expectation is that s/he has conquered those challenges s/he advocates against, and that s/he is therefore the face of overcoming.
The reality is, however, that there’s sometimes no such thing as overcoming—not wholly, not forever. Overcoming is daily work, and we often fail miserably at it. Many days we are doing our best to survive, and some of those days we may not be 100 percent sure that surviving is what we truly even desire.