Tis’ an indescribable feeling, watching those who offer nothing besides a white-imposed optic gain all the superficial spoils of a supremacist space. The feeling is synonymous to what many would feel upon watching those kin to them, personally or collectively, be led into the lion’s den, or a burning house. To watch those who share your aesthetic and experience pine over what was chosen for them, be it a black correspondent or Lori Harvey, engenders a sentiment that surpasses any adjective in this colonial language. To watch the collective consume white choice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a core detriment of the systemic asphyxiation engendered at birth.
Yet many bask in enjoying a freedom they detach from their ancestors, proclamations that convey European efforts to enslave Africans as cyclical. Though our ancestors were enslaved, to conceptualize those who came before us as “slaves” makes “slavery” our inheritance. An inheritance worn in a haughty, misconceptualized liberation. The chains that were once around our necks and ankles, have found a new space to occupy on our television screens, in music, and sneakers.
Similarly, there will always be a space and place on the metaphysical plantation for those to re-present its poison. But those who rise in the discomfort that must precede disrupting the forces that irretrievably disrupted us, must create a space for themselves. This creation exists beyond the autochthonous referenced as autonomy.
They, anti-black agents, want us to cheer for their choice. They want us to believe that we are cheering for ourselves when we smile because someone looks like us on television, smile when a black body does the white man (and woman’s work), because that smile means that whether we acknowledge it or not, we want to be like them. That we are easily satiated by what things look like rather than what they are.
To the non-conformist who does not want to fit into an adversarial space, the question is often…what does this all mean?
There are times where what the non-conformist contributes feels like rocks in a pond. Are we getting anywhere? Why does it all matter?
But it gets to a point where you’ve gone too far cognitively to revert to a space of epistemological death. Once you realize the freedom they told you was yours was a means for them to actualize theirs, there is no going back. The plantation is not only where you do not want to live or work, it’s not what you want to own. The pun here, that references Oprah Winfrey’s network, is intentional.
The white world has chosen Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, and Kamala Harris, as our leaders, as a portrait of what freedom looks like in America. This, of course, isn’t freedom at all. They aren’t the hope and dream of the enslaved, they are the hope and dreams of the masters. They are what our adversaries hope will lead us into plantations disguised as institutions, lead us to pride ourselves on promotions and not ownership, on becoming learned in lies and discouraged from discovering the truth.
Their reality just simply isn’t good enough when you realize how good you are, and how good we are collectively.
What they do not tell you about seeking to acquire and actualize cognitive liberation is that you’ll end up employing your head for refuge. That you’ll end up gravely disappointed in the conversations that surround you; even the dialogues that demand your participation will drown you with disappointment. Then you’ll wonder if you’ve become an elitist with your views, have you acquired a condescending gaze that you now cast onto your people? And there will be plenty who will reference you as such as a stealth plot to “humble” you into conformity. The truth is you have high standards. You don’t want a seat at the table, you don’t want entry into the house, you want your own. But to own anything, you must first own yourself.
The first step in ownership is choice.
As long as anti-black agents continue to choose who embodies and speaks for the black collective, we are not free. As long as their choices embody our heroes, compose the contents of our conversations, and even determine our emotions, we remain like the crops our ancestors cultivated for the commerce of our adversaries. And we, their descendants, embody a slavery consummated by our espousal to their choices interpreted as personifying a harvested desire.