She’s Not Heavy, She’s Our Sister: Love Notes for Sharmeka

24 Oct
Dear Sharmeka,

I’m so sorry for what happened to you. I am sending you love. What happened to you has been a wake up call about the traumas of being multiply marginalized in this world. I hope you get exactly what you need.

So much love,


Dear Sharmeka,

Hey sis. I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I am thinking about you and sending you love and best wishes for a speedy recovery. What’s been going on with you, girl? Maybe you felt invisible, maybe you felt like you deserved this particular type of pain? I just don’t know. I do know that you are probably on the receiving end of a lot of anger and frustration, some of which has to do with your situation and some of which is connected to you simply because you’ve become a symbol of our decidedly not post-racial society. I hope you can find support, healing, and empathy as you move forward. And I hope that the rest of us can see your story as an opportunity to move forward in the world with a spirit of support, healing, and empathy.

Yours truly,


I feel like I know you.  You represent any number of blackgirls I see every day carrying pain that the world can’t see.  I wish the hopelessness you felt in a moment of self-demise could be retracted…that I could help heal what was broken…that you could see in yourself the beauty and majesty that was there all along.

Blackgirl to Blackgirl, I wish that self-hate crimes didn’t exist, that blackgirls didn’t feel the need to be so strong, and that the raced histories and legacies that frame the scenario you initially told were not so prevalent.  Truth is, I feel speechless around how to approach my disappointment and confusion in the staging of the incident.  Racial politics are complicated and our public dialogue needs to be shrouded in honesty.  The untruth you told jeopardizes the credibility of other blackgirls’ stories, myself included. I’m struggling with knowing how to hold you accountable and hold you UP at the same time.   But one thing I feel full voiced about is my unwavering support of YOUR WELL BEING.  I know how it feels to be overwhelmed with hopelessness and pain.  I know how it feels to be pushed in on all sides (multiple discriminations happening at once).  I know how it feels to hurt so bad that you want to hurt yourself.

My hope for you, moving forward, is that you get the support and help you need to be hopeful, whole, and at peace.

In solidarity & love,


Dear Sharmeka,

I wish everything about this story wasn’t true. I wish you were not lying in a hospital bed with scars that you will have to live with for your entire life.  I wish we didn’t live in a world that makes Black girls feel invisible. I wish the terror you felt on the inside didn’t feel like the terror of being ambushed while you walked in a park alone, a terror that so many Black women have felt and do feel everyday. I wish we could tell the truth about racism, so that we would be clear that your singular lie against the KKK in no way equates to the systematic reign of terror that they have perpetrated on Black women. I wish that broken and bruised black bodies weren’t the only credible forms of evidence in our fight against racism, since even the broken bodies frequently aren’t believed. I wish that sexism did not create a world in which Black girls’ bodies are collateral damage in the war on racism. I wish we knew better how to stay well in a world hell-bent on making us unwell.  I wish I could say that I didn’t feel anger and embarrassment when I found out that some parts of your story are apparently untrue. But then I wish we lived in a world where you could have told us your truths, your pain, and your struggle, and been believed.

I hope you are surrounded in love and support. I hope that healing is forthcoming. I hope you see someday the outpouring of care you received from all races of people. I hope that care is not so swiftly retracted. And I hope that anybody who would wish you harm, any opportunist who would equate your misguided act with a reverse ism of any sort, would think again and then take a seat.

You are not heavy. You are our sister. And we have your back.

Much love,


My Sister Sharmeka,
I have spoken your name with my students at Spelman and in private send you love and affirmations. We recognized that your body was experiencing pain but now it seems there was much more pain than we could have recognized. I will continue to speak your name in love and to encourage others to try to understand and listen in hopes that no other black girl feels so silenced and invisible and alone that she experiences such pains.  I wish you peace and recovery but mostly I want you to be surrounded by many experiences of black girl love that crowd out the noise of black girl hate. You have sisters and brothers who are sending you fierce love but wanting you to know that you must be accountable for your choices. In these difficult times please remember to ask for what you need.

With so much love,

Dear Sharmeka,

What can I say but I am sorry. I am sorry that you, your life and your story are being reduced to catchy headlines and two minute news clips.  I am sorry that, for many, you will become a symbol and cease to be a real person with needs and concerns.  Most of all, I am sorry that you are in pain, in any and every sense.  I am sending you love, healing energy and recognition.

With Love,



Wellness is my wish for you: healing for the wounds that festered before the fire and the ones opened by the flame.



15 Responses to “She’s Not Heavy, She’s Our Sister: Love Notes for Sharmeka”

  1. Koritha Mitchell October 24, 2012 at 8:45 AM #

    Thank you, CFC, for finding the words. This brings tears to my eyes because this kind of public embrace is exactly what is needed. And I value that it also manages to offer analysis and critique. We are all better for having your voices. I simply co-sign these letters as my thoughts continue to be with Sharmeka and her family and friends.

  2. aboriginalpress October 24, 2012 at 9:37 AM #

    Reblogged this on .

  3. S. Mandisa Moore October 24, 2012 at 10:29 AM #

    I think it is really sad how we work to discredit the stories of black women. This is clearly embedded in our society. The quickness with which we believed her story was fabricated says less about her (because-again we do not know what she is going through-she is still in need of our prayers and support) and more about the racialized gendered construction of who “victims” are. I am not invested in picking apart the fabrication-Im more invested in why we are so quick to believe her. This happens again and again and one thing seems to be the common factor-the value of black women’s lives.

    • crunktastic October 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM #

      I hope this post won’t be seen as an attempt to discredit Sharmeka. I/we believe her pain and the violent manifestation of it is a truth that stands on its own and should be acknowledged in its fullness. And I hope yesterday’s post demonstrated tangibly our investment in the Black feminist mantra that we believe Black women when they tell their truths.

      We believed Sharmeka yesterday, and we believe her today. The content of those beliefs have shifted based on the best available info we have but not our commitment or our support.

      This incident completely upends all the stability that we think terms like evidence, facts, and truth, pretend or purport to give us. So like you, we are trying to hold all the competing information in our hands, heads, and hearts and do our best to handle it with integrity and care.

      Know that this space is open for anyone who wants to work through it with us.

      • s. mandisa moore October 25, 2012 at 10:58 AM #

        I truly believe this is a space for anyone who wants to work through these things. Unfortunately, CFC is one of few spaces willing to hold the humanity of the Sharmeka Moffits and this is one of the reasons the CFC feels like home to me. And my comment was in response to how few people in this world are willing to do that (I had just read some of the ugly comments from your beautiful previous post-in hindsight I should have posted my comment on that post-my sincere apologies for not coming correct, sister) . I know/feel these letters are not just an attempt to legitimize and humanize Sharmeka but is an actual manifestation of this.

  4. S. Mandisa Moore October 24, 2012 at 10:30 AM #

    I mean so quick NOT to beleive her…..

  5. kateypants October 24, 2012 at 11:37 AM #

    I think this is such a humanizing way to approach such a sad incident. Thank you for a better perspective.

  6. Melody October 24, 2012 at 2:19 PM #

    Thank you, thank you for this wise and compassionate response! And thank you again for the list of resources, which I will gladly share.

  7. That1chick October 24, 2012 at 5:27 PM #

    My Sister Shameka,

    I feel like I know you. I say that because so many black women and girls have to endure such horrors because of who we are. You and I are part of the population of black women and girls I see every day carrying pain that the world can’t see. I wish I could somehow comfort you –at least hold your hand and offer comfort. i pray that my words will encourage you and you din’t stop believing that you possess beauty and majesty –and NO one and NOthing or action can take this away from you.

    Stay strong my Sista
    Proverbs 3:5-6

    • harold October 24, 2012 at 6:14 PM #

      I want to say how much I appreciated and learned from this response. My initial response to this most recent news was one of “anger and embarrassment” (to use Brittney’s words), but you all have shown me that those are two very limited emotions with which to understand this situation. Thanks for raising my emotional and intellectual maturity a little bit, and I hope that Sharmeka does receive some of this love.

  8. rhaetor October 24, 2012 at 7:28 PM #

    While it’s very sad that Sharmeka chose to follow a path that ended in self-immolation, there are far more disturbing aspects of this situation to consider. For instance, I find it remarkably disturbing that this blog joined other forms of social media in immediately believing Sharmeka and assuming that white supremacism had reared its ugly, odious head. We must all be more critical about these claims if society is to ever progress beyond the narratives of the past. See my post at: [redacted by editors].

    • crunktastic October 24, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

      You will not use this space to direct folks to that terrible piece of madness you wrote against this girl. There is much, much wrong with your comment, but I don’t even have the energy to explicate it. Perhaps some other reader will be so generous with her time.

      • s. mandisa moore October 25, 2012 at 10:51 AM #

        Thank you CrunkFeministCollective for not publishing the post. For establishing boundaries. And just putting a flat out no! This is what it looks like to support black women and girls. Thank you.

  9. amg October 24, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

    Beautiful letters and response!


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