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We Deserve Grace, Always

The public is rarely forgiving and loves to celebrate a come-up but salivates at the opportunity to savor what they see as a downfall...

Carl Davaz/For the Register-Guard

One night, before a poetry performance, I stood on stage in the empty theatre, lights flickering for soundcheck, mics offering feedback in utter shock as my mentor told me to go home. Yes, he told me to go home. He said I was not ready to perform and told me and this was not my night. Fighting back the tears, I called my mom to come to pick me up as my fellow poets continued to practice and prepare. I remember crying all the way home.

That night was my first real introduction to losing. I lost that night. I didn’t prepare, memorize my poem, and my mind was elsewhere, and therefore, I couldn’t perform. It was simple as that, and my mentor presented it as such. I never forgot that moment because I know it won’t be the last time I feel that disappointment. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I will fall short of my expectations and feel like, well, a loser. However, the next time I saw my mentor, he did not hold that night against me. He still expected great work from me and offered me grace. Sha’Carri Richardson, unfortunately, was not provided the same…

Yesterday Sha’Carri Richardson lost. She lost big time, finishing last in the 100 meters race at the Prefontaine Classic. And what was once a flood of support for her inspired drawings of her running into the finish line, endorsements, and #IStandByShaCarri quickly became a barrage of laughter, memes, and insults. The vibe was, “Oh, you thought you were hot shit! GUESS NOT!” The jokes were aplenty and as we praised the winner, Elain Thompson-Herah, we drag Sha’Carri. The public is rarely forgiving and loves to celebrate a come-up but salivates at the opportunity to savor what they see as a downfall, especially if they are women of color (i.e., Cardi B, Lizzo, Meg Thee Stallion, just to name a few). The internet is ruthless, but the pattern is all too apparent.

Black women deserve grace, always, and it will rarely come from the public, social media, or the press. Thank goodness Sha’Carri already knows this, given her response to her loss that day. However, not all of us have that resolve or an influential mentor to offer grace when we felt like we didn’t deserve it, and inevitably there will be a time where we will lose or feel like we failed. Let this be your reminder to find grace from within or question why you can’t offer it to those who need it. Trust, Sha’Carri will do fine, but those in your circle who might not be sharing their “losses” could use the reminder.

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