This post is by Jada Smith, and originally ran on her blog Casual Tuesdays. X-posted with permission.
It had been a shit week — I was even avoiding my mom’s phone calls. I never want to tell her the bad stuff. What was I gonna say if she asked about that guy I mentioned a few weeks ago? I’d have to tell her that he was more interested in my friend than he was in me, that he was taking her on real dates, and that I’d seen it with my own two watery eyes. I’d have to tell her that I hadn’t been published this week or the last, and that I cracked the screen on yet another iPhone that she and my dad are still paying the bill for.
I just wanted to be on the next train to Petworth. I pressed play on the crackphone and stared angrily at the flashing red hand that seemed like the cherry on top of a runny, dollar menu sundae.
Carry on, ghetto woman. When you doubt if you’re a star just know we still believe.
The melody floated into my earbuds, kneading my discontent like one of those spa chairs at the nail shop. The voice in my ear wanted me to feel powerful again, or maybe even for the first time. The grip I’d had on each bicep loosened. My shoulders un-hunched.
When you cry, don’t you know we are right there crying with you?
I hadn’t even noticed that someone else had been standing beside me the whole time. I’m terrible at guessing ages, but she looked like she could have been an usher at my Big Mama’s church, passing out programs and side-eyeing my hemline. I started to smile. She had on sensible shoes and thick glasses, lugging two overstuffed bags on either shoulder. There was patience in her face, as though she knew this was just one crosswalk of many standing in the way of her destination. I don’t know why, but looking at her made me feel powerful too.
Carry on, ghetto woman. I see you working night to morning light yet no one cares.
Two other ladies had joined us — one looked to be around the same age as me but with twice the responsibility, the other was having her tiny hand held by the former. She had the cutest pink and purple hat pulled down over her beaded cornrows. Had the woman stayed up braiding the girl’s hair all night like my mom used to do when I was little? Was she already worrying about how she would pull off Christmas this year? Did she remember to take the chicken out of the freezer this morning? Would she tell the little one that it’s alright when she grows up and has some “bad stuff” to tell her?
Who said the ghetto’s just a place where queens dance naked on the moon?
I looked down at the Electric Lady cover art saw all four of us.They didn’t know it, but they had been my heroes just then. Their weeks could have been 10 times as shitty as mine, but look at them, carrying on. They made me want to too. The light changed and I crossed the sidewalk feeling renewed. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom about it.
Carry on, ghetto woman. You’re the 7th wonder reigning over us at night.