Black Queens

By: Evan Taylor

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-9-24-31-am

They don’t wanna see me love you
They don’t wanna see me love you
They don’t wanna see me love you
They don’t wanna see me love you
|| Kanye West || FML ||

Black women and girls were grandmasters even before chess was invented

They have always sacrificed everything to save and protect the Black King

When I was younger I was sure that the Queen was the most powerful piece

The Queen could move all over the board in any direction

diagonally, vertically, horizontally

While the King could only move one space at a time

Usually for the mere fact that the King wanted to protect himself

Every pawn once they reach the other side of the board was able to turn into a Queen

That for me was the ultimate goal
to have a board full of Queens

Because Queens could move how they wanted

In order to protect the King and each other
As an adult when people would speak about life they would often say

“Life is a game of chess, not a game of checkers”

I think they were speaKing to how you have to think beyond one move when playing

They were speaKing to reading what your opponent would do in the future

I too have come to find that, life is like chess

In that the Black Queen is often sacrificing life and limb to save and protect

The Black King

If the Black King is killed then that is the end of the game and the end of life

Even if the board is full of Black Queens

The same is true in many policies and practices in America

Everything  is done in order to protect young Black Kings

But those sacrifices often go unnoticed

Few things are done to protect and acknowledge the young Black Queens

I myself am guilty of the same thing

Focusing on helping Black males academically

As if the classroom is a paradise for Black girls
Black girls are not in paradise but some have been taught and convinced so

Taught and convinced that their paradise is to give their lives to protect Kings

Even though the Kings rarely stand up and speak out for them

When the Black Queen is moving about the board strategizing and aiming to protect

The King usually stays near his initial position and watches her sacrifice it all

All pieces do not matter equally

If they did the King would protect the Queen as she protects him

The King would aim to encourage the pawns to become powerful Queens

The King would be on the protest lines weeping for Queens lost in the battle

Which makes me ask

Do Black Kings deserve to have their hands held

And bodies protected by Black Queens?

Do all Black Queens realize that their status as Queens is not

Is not

Is not

IS NOT contingent upon their relationship to the King?

They are Queens in their own right and continue to be whether a King is present

Or not

When worKing with my third graders last year

I asked them who was the bravest animal

Many were quick to state that the lion was the bravest animal

They spoke of many characteristics and ideas that they had been taught

Such as protecting the cubs, roaring loudly, fighting

But what they had not been taught was the sacrifice of the lioness

They did not know that the lioness did a lot of the work while the lion slept

They did not know the sacrifices that the lioness made to protect the lion cubs

If I were to ask them who are the bravest people in the world

Would they say Black men

Would they rattle off names like Martin, Malcolm, Mandela, Garvey, Newton

Tupac, Jay Z, LeBron James, Micheal Jordan?

Is this because they have not been taught the true history of Black women

And the sacrifices Black women made and make

Would they know to value the bravery and resilience of Black women?

Would they know the sacrifices of  Angela Davis, bell hooks, Maya Angelou,

Claudette Colvin, Shirley Chisholm, Candace Parker, Rekia Boyd, Mamie Till,

Queen Nzinga, Queen Latifah, Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones, Na’ilah Nasir, Ann Petry

Erykah Badu, Ella Baker, Henrietta Lacks, Sandra Bland, Zora Neale Hurston,

Melissa Harris Perry, Angela Rye, Nina Simone, Fannie Lou Hamer, Jesmyn Ward

Toni Morrison, Sky Mocakabee, Korryn Gaines, Latasha Harlins,

sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, girlfriend, daughter, cousin

How can they not know and not value these names and these struggles

As much as they value those of Black men

The reason lies in the rules of chess

That many have been taught to master

Protect the Black King, memorialize his story

Make him the face of the struggle

Let all research, policies and incentives focus on the preservation of Kings

Let the Queen move around the board and protect and save the King

I think it is time for a new worldview

One in which all pieces are valued.

A world in which as much protest happens at the death of a Queen as at the

Death of a King

I have grown tired of playing chess

I now am focused on trying daily to be worthy

Of having my hand held by Black Queens

For they have held me together and held me for so long

Is it not my responsibility to do the same?

Black mother
Black sister
Black angels
Cover me
In lamb’s wool
I’m surrounded by
Wolves

Black mother
Black sister
I’ll cover you in lamb’s wool
And pray to God
That I am not
The wolf

Black mother
Black sister
Black angels
Forgive me
If I have been a wolf

Black mother
Black sister
Black angels
Thank you for protecting me
From the wolves

Black mother
Black sister
Black angels
Can I hold your hand?

Black mother
Black sister
Black angels
Your life is
Precious

Let us value this
Before your name
Becomes a hashtag

___________________________________________________________________

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.09.40 PMEvan Taylor is a second-year, third grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary school in Dolton, IL. He currently serves on the board of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics as the Director-At-Large.  He is pursuing his master’s degree in Instructional Leadership with a focus in Literacy, Language and Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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