Toward A Black Imaginary: For the Daughters of the Diaspora

What a time to be alive. What a time to be a black woman and an HBCU graduate living in their nation’s capitol.

While there are countless lessons to be learned form the 2020 election, the most profound lesson is one of imagination.   

A defiled imagination renders the black power manifested in white supremacist victory as a cause for elation. It is this sullied imagination that casts a racist white male and senior citizen as the sole possible entity to extinguish the flames of someone who fits the same description. Its obfuscation perceieves the black school as suddenly worthy now that an alumnae has gained a (projected) entry into the white house. The defiled imaginary also solidifies the disturbing reality that soon this institution will be as white as the house that engendered its public reverie. 

An inability to imagine confines the black collective to the cyclical disenfranchisement that placed our ancestors in chains, sold black children down the river, placed our people in cages, took our language, and intertwined black self respect and black identity politics with the well-being of the white nation and the comfort of our adversaries. 

It’s actually hard to believe that white nationalism as a praxis continues to bamboozle the black community with optics and language that creates a clean slate autonomous from the anti-blackness that anchored both Biden’s and Harris’s political presence. 

Confined to the social reproduction of white nationalist thought, the black imaginary appears out of reach and unattainable. These cognitive restrictions deem Nat Turner more of a comic-book caricature than Stan Lee’s T’Challa and Killmonger. It an obscured imagination that casts former “top cop” and cultural chameleon Kamala Harris, not Winnie Mandela, Assata Shakur, or the African queens that preceded our cultural disruption, as the dream the black parent has for their daughters. Harris, though credited for expanding the imagination for black youth, personifies the apex of anti-blackness — diversified white supremacy. She teaches the young black girl that, if she mobilizes her black femininity correctly, the best she can hope for is a place beside a white man. This is hardly a feat, as this ideology illustrates the contemporary black woman as confined to the same social and systemic position as her foremothers. 

What separates one generation from another is the ability to imagine. If we as a collective continue to lust for a seat at the table, or a piece of white power that inevitably warrants our defeat, we remain functionally blind to the extent of our full potential. 

The extent of our full potential will always lie in the upcoming generation. Thus, we must employ the imagination as intellectualism and teach our children that thought and imagination are symbiotic forces. So whether they become mathematicians, scientists, historians, or authors, it is our children’s imagination that will catapult black ideas into black innovation. 

My dream for my unborn daughter is that she remain black in a white world. That she speaks where the women before her were silent. That she fight the battles I didn’t or couldn’t, and that she stand where I sat. I hope that she sees Kamala Harris, and every other black female optic, for what they are: portraits of white progress. I hope that she conceptualizes Harris as not the height of black female achievement, but as existing beneath a sky of opportunity that awaits all who dare to imagine. 

Freedom must be vividly imagined before it is actualized. We must dream before we do, and we must dream not only of not only the mountaintop, but what lies beyond it. Whether she does it barefoot or wearing the shoes of the black women that came before her, I want what lies beyond the mountaintop for my future daughter and for all the daughters of the diaspora. 

The black imaginary is paramount to a world beyond the ways of the whiteness. So, imagine. Imagine. Imagine, black girl,  and don’t stop until what you dream of is what you see when you’re awake.

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