I'm sitting across from a black woman on the train who looks tired. She is tired. She has fallen asleep with many bags in her hand. A bag lady. Beside her are two you gentlemen who could be her sons--one 4, maybe, and one teenaged. They seem carefree. Joyful. Perhaps, a little tired but awake enough to smack each other around, playfully, as they make the trek from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I can't imagine that the woman is over 35, but she looks tired and weariness has aged her.
As I watched her, I reflected on my own weariness--how it's aged me. I wonder if it shows on my face--if it showed on my face...if people saw that I was weary while my ex-partner, my brothers, my male cousins played around as the wrinkles grew into my otherwise plump and creamy skin. I wondered if my father was ever as weary as my mother. I wondered if my grandfather helped my grandmother carry the bags that weighed her down and wore her out.
A black man walks into the subway car, entering from another car while the train is moving. He seems to not be in his right mind--perhaps, he's in the middle of a mental health crisis. The weary black woman sitting across from me seems worn out, but she's sane. Her strength speaks volumes and I wondered if the black man would be sane if he were allowed to be weary? Could the black man be sane if he were allowed to be weak? Could the black man be sane if he were allowed to fall asleep on the train while his sons--his brothers--watched over him and his bags?
I'm playing around with a Womanist framework for self-sustaining pastoral care for men, and I'm really curious about the black man's sanity. I love black men. Even in my weariness, I can't quite find the means to throw the black man away. White, patriarchal systems would love for me to do just that--for me to blame my weariness on the black man without offering a helping hand/a solution to remedy a system that has failed us all. Could the black man be sane? I sit with this question as I think on ways to care for and love my community more deeply.