I AM NOT
by Joy D Johnson
How does a black woman cope in Cleveland? When we use our black girl magic, they make us feel like it’s black magic. They call us witches (and other words that rhyme with it).
The city I love doesn’t love me back.
Where can I live in my city and be safe but also comfortable? I want a little luxury but I also want to be around my people. Can I have both?
Where can I send my child to school to get an education without me having to constantly fight the power and advocate on her behalf?
I work hard. All day. Everyday. I’m leaving it all on the court. Balling like LeBron in 2016, but getting treated like LeBron when I make a Decision they don’t like. Burning my jersey at the stake of my witch trial. Who you callin a witch? There’s no U-N-I-T-Y here. Even the ones who are black like me treat me like an enemy.
Like Usher, it’s driving me crazy, cuz I’m missing my baby...my city that raised me, it doesn’t love me back. But, like a throwback, if I leave, its gonna want me back. Those will be the last words I say to you, Cleveland. And when I leave the Land you’ll be wishing I was still here with you.
So how am I coping as a black woman in Cleveland? Today, I am not.
Joy Johnson is the Executive Director of Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., a non-profit community development corporation serving the Buckeye-Shaker Square, Buckeye-Woodhill, Central, and Kinsman neighborhoods on the east side of Cleveland. The organization develops real estate projects in these challenged communities and provides supportive social service programming. The mission of BBC is to empower citizens and revitalize blighted and underserved communities.
A graduate of Jane Addams Business Careers High School in Cleveland, Joy received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Administration Degree and Certificate of Non-Profit Management from Cleveland State University. She is a member of Leadership Cleveland class of 2021 through the Cleveland Leadership Center and serves on several community boards and committees. She lives in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood with her daughter, Kendall, a high school student at John Hay Early College.