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  • Hettie Barnhill

"Don’t forget to look up, Hettie. Goodness greets you..."


"Don’t forget to look up, Hettie.  Goodness greets you..."


When I was younger, I had multiple people tell me the same thing.  My mother, teachers, elders, and some peers, would all share the common mantra which I heard like a record on repeat. 


"Hold your head up and stop looking down, Hettie."


Within good reason, I remember walking, sitting and dancing with my head down when I was younger. At that time It was mostly a physical response to shyness, abuse, and habit.  It took me a while to even notice when it was happening, but it was also the beginning of understanding and growth for me as a child.  The first part of my self-awareness was realizing when I was actually looking at the floor, and quickly correcting it when it was brought to my attention from either myself or someone else. I guess you could say that I grew out of it and in one way, I did, because as an adult looking downward, is now a very conscious choice.  A beautiful reason as to why I look down now is that the middle of my core has changed drastically. I’m holding a human being, who without seeing me, is learning, listening, moving and growing inside me.  GROWING FAST, and my protruding belly, changing skin, and swollen breasts are direct responses from it.  So, in this case, looking down at my body, at my baby, at the future, is quite calming and intriguing.  I feel so lucky to see things from this angle. With that said, we all have heard that statement at one time or another.  "Keep your head down and keep it moving".  Well, I must admit that this also, is my reasoning for looking downward.  However, unlike childhood or that of being an expectant mommy's point of view, I do feel this choice has run its course. Without knowing, my downward focus has turned into a coping mechanism.  Used lately as a reaction to the ugliness suffocating the world. I'm using it to resist the need to react to people who combat my way of thinking. I have allowed myself to be affected by situations, things and people who do not see life how I DO, and that can be problematic because not dealing with opposition only makes matters worse. What I value in life are things I identify with such as openness, transparency, the ability to love whoever you'd like and however you'd like, equality and equity for my life and people who look like me, blackness is my culture.   The “she”, the “her”, the “hers”, the women and our voices needing to be heard. The freedom and right to choose what happens to and in our own bodies without being defined by them.  I value my family's health, wellness, abilities, and responsibilities.  I value the past experiences for which made me who I am, and the ones my future may hold that I want to live to see through. When someone goes against these values, I find myself now, not even wasting my breath on them.  Instead, I look down, put my blinders on and keep moving. I’m done with that.  Maybe, it is a boost of energy.  Although, I have something to offer.  My knowledge, experiences, and reactions just might shed some light on the moment.  I will look up, confront, and speak my truth. What comes from it, I invite.  It just might make room for something new and something that is good to me. January was good to me. Brought close ones near. Good people of all shades, shapes, and views in my life.


Shows me what "black love" really looks like…