My Saturn Return has begun and I’ve felt compelled to cut ties that bind.
And not ties of pleasure, ties that constrict and leave no room to breathe. Nostalgic ties that only serve the interests of those who cling on to memories.
The people who I thought would be in my phone or on media accounts to wish me a happy solar return have been replaced with surprised.
Surprises in the sense that there were many people in my pocket hat I didn’t expect. Securing my own bag over the past year has allowed me to hote step in my first Saturn Return.
Turns and returns.
My grandmother’s Saturn Return marked the end of her marriage as she knew it. A Southern woman, a God loving woman, the 60s was “not the time” to do that.
But she did it anyways.
She said that she never found anyone worthy of her again, and she made sure that my grandfather was supported. I’ve mused on this choice before but I didn’t realize she did this at 27.
At the age I’m at now, she had three daughters. She had marched with giants, and been in the presence of Civil Rights Movement icons. But something switched for her, and she made the choice to be a single mother three due to the impact of a war in her husband’s body. That vald PTSD he experienced was washed away with alcohol, and I don’t think he ever recovered. But at 27 I cannot imagine I’d right be here, writing here, if she had not made that choice.
As a Black woman in the 60s my grandmother chose herself. I don’t know of many women who’ve had the privilege to do so at such a young age.
A woman who has also done similar work and is among the new generation of leaders, is also 27. She lost her father to state violence. Her children lost and never had the chance to meet their grandfather.
“Erica Garner, 27-years-old, two heart attacks this year, the stress of the movement, the stress of motherhood, the stress of being a woman, being black, being in this crazy state of stress in this racist, economically unequal world. Self-care equals self-preservation. Her sad story is an urgent reminder to all of us -- especially those angrily organizing, marching, speaking, traveling, and even addictively posting messages for the movement -- to proactively seek self-care. To turn off the bells and whistles and just be. Please. Regularly. Salute to #EricaGarner still showing strength and speaking truth even in a brain dead state of mind.” - Raqiyah Mays
Erica Garner and I are both namesakes of the men that raised us. Yet we’ve lived completely different lives, due to life circumstances and class. When I first saw her speak two years ago at an event curated by Yeah, That’s What She Said, she was the most genuine person in the room. She wasn’t afraid to call the NYPD officers that took her father, Eric Garner’s, life murders. She was also inviting and open to others shared experiences, and those who could both empathize and mobilize.
2015 was a peak flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality movement in the city. I had been in several actions, and had taken over spaces in veneration of her father and for all those like and dislike him.
In the years to follow, as a space I helped curated sparked the image that would become #SayHerName. I stopped carrying the signs. I stopped being angry (publicly). I stopped showing up as a body in the street and discovered that I could be in better service to others as a salve.
Erica didn’t have to make that choice. Yet she did. She chose to keep fighting. To keep a spotlight where others like myself had turned away. That choice to keep the struggle alive and hold folks accountable showed up in her body this week. I fear that the world broke her heart. That when the bodies like mine started to dwindle, so did a part of her resilience. I really want to be wrong.
We’re both 27 and I keep returning to that because the world has treated us so differently, and I say this knowing that no amount of privilege will save me from that type of heartache and that type of generational trauma. That manifests in all of us, but especially dark skinned Black women.
I can still call my father. I can hug him. I can laugh with him. Erica can’t. Two police officers took that Black fatherhood, a most precious thing, from her.
I weep and I scream because I have this feeling that she might not want to fight for us anymore. I do not blame her.
How many times have Black women shown up for everyone else only to not get the same veneration in return? How are we, Black, Indigenous, POC folks complicit in this? How will those of us who are able to rally now rally forth in ways that sustain us?
Sis, I hope that your heart is mending.
I wish we had been there when you needed us.
I worry that the strong Black woman archetype stole your joy.
I pray that I’m wrong and that the supreme powers that be bring us in right relation with you.
That we have the privilege to build a better world for your children and the next seven generations that are already on their way.
But I will wholeheartedly understand if you choose to join your father Erica.
“Something is deeply, deeply wrong with the way that we fight police brutality when we allow Black women who've been on the front lines to be homeless or to be w/o metrocard money. There were too many times Erica didn't have the latter but she found a way to protest in S.I.” - @chaedria
"i can’t tell you to stay here in this life with all that you have witnessed, all that has been taken from you, denied to you.
what was yours/taken: your father, justice, your skin as haven, the ease of holding your newborn child.
it’s so heavy to carry that love. your heart is not weak but it is heavy and we all know only pieces of that weight and we all carry pieces of that burden.
i cannot tell you to stay here. i just want to say thank you out loud while you breathe. you have been ferocious in this life, chosen the steepest path of grief, the one that will not rest.
some way you need to rest now.
if you come home, we await you.
if you go home, we release you.
with this black breath, we honor you."
prayer for Erica Garner - adrienne maree brown