It's exhausting, but she'll keep laboring. Excellence is simply something that black women have been accustomed to.
Jasmine Mans is a spoken-word artist from Newark, New Jersey, who doesn't call herself the ultimate black woman (that's a title she reserves for her forever First Lady, Michelle Obama), but, as a gifted and hardworking artist, she seems to be one. The poet performs regularly, tours the country as a guest artist at universities, posts prolifically on social media, and sells merchandise printed with her poetry.
Her work will simultaneously inspire you and make you question your own humanity. She'll speak of her black, female ancestors with pride in her eyes and, in the next breath, spit a wrenching spoken-word verse about the black mothers who watch their sons, and her own friends, die young, again and again.
"My son will not be a martyr for a war he never asked for," she recites, her voice thick with indignity.
In her body of work, she recognizes the Obamas' glory and the ensuing fade from it. She calls out broken systems and political motives that hurt black women the most. And yet, her poems cling to a residual hope, as she pivots artfully from tragedy to light through small cracks of powerfully crafted phrases about little black girls recognizing their skin shade in their role models on TV, and once, in the White House: "She knows black Barbie dolls and nap time. How to identify your face in a land filled of misrepresented women who share our skin color like a sequenced revolution."
It may be tiring, but she's not giving up any time soon.
Editor, The Why Women Project