Black Families Matter: #keepfamiliestogether, A Violent and Forgetful Initiative

Context: Allow me to Set the Scene. 

I imagine they left hours before sunset, seeking to be on a linear path by the time sun retired to its hiding place. There is a deafening silence, aside from the occasional moan and groan. The scent of bodies and bodily functions overwhelm the space. One on top of another, bodies are placed on top of one another. Christened in bodily fluids, the physically bonded share the experience of mental dehumanization. A woman that was once a mother, is now a faceless, and genderless body on a ship whose name no longer matters. She longs for her children, just as her mother continent longs for her stolen offspring. Her children are lost and afraid. Their parents can’t find them in the discordance of their displacement amongst the hard floors of a ship. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and children listen to the sound of their loved one’s limp bodies hit the water. Others watch as their loved ones jumped from the ship to avoid bondage—their bodies transitioning from abductee to atoms that are still present in the water today. Black bodies fought internally as the pale people deemed them stock— their value stripped and replaced by western commerce.  IMG_4175

My ancestors were one of those bodies thrown carelessly onto a ship–  their journey a manifestation of a nightmare.  They are as familiar to me as they were to their own children and parents. Their memory is phantasmal, both there and not there, both seen and not seen. I know they existed because I am the fruit of their tree. The traces of this tree, however, are long gone. Not often enough do we search our mind for their memory and scan our bodies for their touch.  

Their lives and displaced memory are a testament to the very cruelty that continues to plague their descendants. Their lives are lost and utterly forgotten in a contemporary climate that campaigns to “keep families together” as the black collective continues to suffer from the aftermath of families separated centuries prior. 

IMG_4180In his Autobiography, Frederick Douglass speaks of the nighttime visits from his mother
who walked miles to see him. He never saw her face, but felt the impact of a severed family long before a hashtag. Douglass mirrors what many black children experienced during bondage, and even what many black children face in a contemporary climate that continues to subject the black body to forces that separate families often indefinitely.

IMG_4176These severed familial ties are the reason why  I am writing this prose in english. Why my last name speaks of a slavemaster, a rapist who is overlooked in the contemporary #metoo movement. Therefore, I cannot retweet that hashtag in good faith, or even consider supporting this deflective initiative, because I am still mourning the lost families of the African Holocaust. 

The “I” I speak of is the descendant of black bodies stolen and enslaved by those who continue to dictate the conversation. A conversation that continues to omit the struggles of the first migrants, the first families severed deliberately to butcher ties to a continent whose children were stolen and her natural resources stripped from her loins. The current conversations around immigration turn my black body red with anger, as they exclude those who literally and figuratively reproduce a colonialism “his” story violently references as in the past. 

Migrants come here by choice. A choice my ancestors never had. Therefore, I can not and will not sympathize with migrant stories that function to erase the slave narratives that foreshadow a  contemporary misfortune that does not graze the lasting impact of past tragedies. 

If this seems harsh, consider how you’d feel if your ancestors were stolen, stripped, tortured, raped, branded with their master’s name, robbed of their legacy and their earnings by a country who offers humanity to those who choose what was a chosen for us? 

A Violent Terminology

Let me say that America is absolutely indebted to migrants from the illusive “third img_4184.jpgworld.” This country’s wealth remains enabled by exploiting countries labeled third world. These third word countries enable first world privileges, privileges the black body does not bask in, and did not steal. It is not the abducted African that exploited the resources of our diasporic brothers and sisters and those of the African adjacent. Yet, although America exploits other countries, it is important for the black collective to not forget that the first location depleted of its resources was not a country but a continent. Our continent. 

The word “migrant” functions similarly to “person of color,” a violent terminology used to erase the black struggle in suggesting a cruel and non-existent commonality. These statements allow phrases like “we are all immigrants” to function, to place the kidnapped black body as a migrant and ignore centuries of legalized cruelty. “Migrant/immigrant” and “person of color” also silently address a hierarchy that places the black body at the bottom, when and if they address the black body at all. 

Nevertheless, this country was not build by migrants. This country was built by the enslaved bodies of Africans, the same bodies that continue to hold this country together in a non-negotiable degeneracy.  A degeneracy needed to ensure the fabricated superiority of whites, black migrants, and non-persons of color. Our bodies compose the nation in which all stand. Our blood birthed the very hierarchy system manipulated to consistently place those descended from the African architects of today and yesterday at the bottom. 

The “other” oppressors

Immigrants are cast as contemporary slaves, not an effort to highlight the struggle of past slaves, but IMG_4182to deflect from a past enslavement. A deflection that persistently encourages blacks to empathize with migrants in the same breath blacks are encouraged to collectively chastise Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland amongst other slain blacks who fail to personify the perfect victim. We as a collective are encouraged to feel everything but pride. We are pumped with knowledge about everything and everyone but ourselves. 

We as a collective are seduced into empathizing with those who invade our communities in a quest for capital. Who take our dollars and place it into their own communities where a non-migrant body is not welcome to shop let alone work or live. We are to cry for those who wish to reproduce the disenfranchisement the white man has cast onto the black collective. 

Our migrant brothers and sisters have largely joined the sides of our oppressors. These factions have taken the soil soaked in the blood of black bodies and set up shop to sell it back to us for a profit. They have become pawns in deflecting from black issues onto those who came here for a slice of a pie made with stolen resources. Migrant bodies in America seeking capital, mirror a bacon-eating pig calling for a cease in slaughtering. This behavior may be helpful in their own quest for whiteness, but has no place in the strides towards black nationalism.

To ask the black collective to sympathize and empathize with those who vehemently deny the black collective these very sentiments is both bizarre and cruel. To ask that blacks support migrant desire to demand the very rights we have we fought to have for centuries, and to allow migrants to dominate a conversation that has yet to acknowledge the sins cast against us as a collective, is counterproductive to curating a pro black nation.

#blackfamiliesmatter

Last summer I read Gabourey Sidibe’s memoir This is Just My Face: Try not To Stare. In IMG_4178the book, Sidibe reveals that her parents descended from the same family in Senegal. Her mother’s ancestors were abducted and displaced in the American South, her father’s left to life on the other side of the world. Sidibie’s anecdote illustrates the contemporary effect of families separated centuries ago. There is no hashtag for our loss, there is visibility, and their is certainly no justice.  This information resonated deeply with me, in depicting the impact of the severed black family. A depth that is too often deemed not important enough to talk about.

Had our collective families been kept together, the black family would cease to remain marked by the last names of men who raped their way into our nomenclature. Had our families not been severely severed, we too would be fighting to maintain the very community migrants wish to keep stagnant. Instead, our issues are those of restoration. We must restore what we never had, not feel for those who had the opportunity to feel what a white supremacist world continues to deprive from the black body. 

The hashtag #keepfamiliestogether, places the abduction and pervasive systemic asphyxiation of the black body as in the past, as we as as collective continue to grapple for air. We were separated not only in enslavement, but when drugs were placed in our communities, when the AIDS epidemic seized so many of our loved ones, and through natural disasters to which black bodies succumbed to the lethal combination of our origins in America—water and white supremacy. This hashtag functions similarly to the img_4181.jpgconversations on human trafficking, which focus on every body but the black body. 

Remembering What Matters 

Here is where I am supposed to insert some phrase that mollifies my earlier statements. Just as all outspoken pro-black figures are often required to apologize with a statement that says they do not “hate” whites, I am expected to implement a statement that states that I do not “hate” migrants. A statement that articulates my wish to stand beside white, black, and non-black migrants of color as they seek to obtain what I have. 

Well, what I have is scars on my back and lacerations on my soul. I have a hole in heart for the names of those I will never know. I should say I would not wish this on anyone, but I can not help but wonder if migrants truly had to develop the survival strength of the abducted African whether they would understand America for what it is, not what it needs everyone to believe. To understand however, is beyond a wish. To understand is to become, and migrants (even those with black or dark skin), do not come here to become black, they come here to become white–or at the very least a pastel shade.  Irregardless, I also do not wish to stand beside those who wish to stand on my back. Instead, I will conclude in saying that this persistent bullying of pro-black perspectives exposes who and what is truly hated. 

This hate is the precise reason that we as a collective must love ourselves, unapologetically. A love rooted in remembering our ancestors. 

For the families separated any time in displacement and/or the economical and emotional disenfranchisement of black people, #blackfamiliesmatter. 

Black Power ❤ 

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What Happened When I “Came for” Cardi B.: The Cardi B. Conscious ClapBack

I’ll be honest with you, I never intended to author a post on Cardi B. The post reflects an aspiring writing seizing an opportunity to practice the skill to which she has dedicated my life.

Before I continue, I want to state that I do not regret anything that I posted. I do however regret the aftermath of my articulation—namely bringing the disingenuous and intellectually impenetrable to a blog designed to expose the labyrinth of a global racial paradigm.


Soaring Stats: A Gift and a Curse

ABD logo
ABD logo

Saturday marked the most readers my blog has ever seen. Three and a half years ago when I started this blog, this news would have been great. The traffic however, was not those seeking a collective consciousness, but those who maintain a proximity to blackness but seek to centralize what they compartmentalize as their faction, in discussions of blackness.

Specifically, this increased traffic was solely credited to Cardi B, and those solely interested in engaging blackness from an Afro-Latin/Latinx perspective. So while the majority of the hate-spewed comments accuse me of being ethnocentric, the argumentative interest prompted by my Cardi B. post was in fact fomented by ethnocentricity.

To those who counter my assertions, I ask you—where was the influx of “Afro-Latin”* commentary on my post remembering Recy Taylor—the black woman gang-raped by white men in 1944? Where were you a last week when Erica Garner passed? And where are you yesterday when as the black community honored black author Zora Neale Hurston on what would have been her birthday?

I want to point out that all of the previously mentioned names are those of black females born in America, just like Cardi B. But neither of my articles speaking of those bearing the same blackness my skeptics claim to believe in, garnered any traction from the Latinx community.

Where was your interest in blackness when not anchored in the location of your drop off?

The answer is simple— basking in the ethnic deflection created by the sorcerers of whiteIsabel_Luberza_Oppenheimer_(Isabel_la_Negra)_del_Barrio_Maragüez,_en_Ponce,_Puerto_Rico_(DSC05441C) supremacy, claiming the many labels, like Puerto Rican and Dominican, created by the white man to diversify how they call us all n*ggers.

I would  have welcomed a  proposal to partner with a diasporic sibling to widen my pan-Africanist scope. I would have welcomed a critique demanding I acknoweldge the diasporic black female form like the late Isabel la negra—but this is not the critique.

No, the overwhelming amount of insults,  accusations of ignorance, and declarations of my misunderstandings of colonialism, reflect the colonized minds of those who place nationality before race, and attack truth to maintain the fallacy necessary to eschew looking the true villain in the eye.


The Real

Most of the comments on my piece on Cardi B, are from those who did not bother to readbutton-blackpower-lg
the article. The article specifically acknowledges diasporic Africans as descendants of the same black bodies abducted from the shores of Africa. But rather than take the article for what it actually said, many approached the piece with their own insecurities regarding all that they’ve gained from blacks whom did not choose their placement in America.

Yet despite my descendance from the same abducted black bodies that birthed by brethren outside the U.S., I have been credited for stealing my own ancestors, for doing the white man’s work of dividing the most beautiful and resilient people offspring of Africa.

Namely, what makes these comments problematic is the personalizing of a collective argument, by attacking what my skeptics perceived as a representation of the haughty “African-American,” while the true villains escape these scathing replies and instead maintain their esteemed place in the bloodline, the employment, and bed, of my mythic adversaries. These verbally violent acts– socially reproduced almost two-hundred times in the last seventy-two hours– not only depict misdirected anger, but reflect the type of cowardice that brings our shared oppressors to tears of joy.

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Africa, A Tree with Many Branches 

Africa is the common branch to all her lost children, but to act as though some of her children have not forgotten the black foremothers and forefathers of their past, is sheer denial of the part many of Africa’s children play in the wrath of white supremacy. While certainly not limited to schomburg_arturoAfricans outside the U.S., the migrant black is often given an easy out by the American white supremacists who wish to discount the horror inflicted onto dr-benblacks in the “land of the brave and home of the free.”

Now, my blog does not discount that that there are diasporic Africans, like the late and prolific Arthur Schomburg and Dr. Ben who made  incomparable contributions to blackness. Though also born in Bronx like Cardi B, Dr. Ben is absent from ALL criticisms of my diasporic siblings, which reflect the limited and prejudiced scope of my skeptics. Dr. Ben reflects those who placed nationality second to their African origins– those throughout the diaspora that welcome their separated siblings with open arms, and dedicate their life to the  whole of blackness. But in the 2ffe9421a4f01c98a8c5b7723ac2f48c4a36afabsame breath that I remember and honor the late Dr. Ben,  I would be remiss to acknowledge the overwhelming majority that do not mirror his actions or ideology.

This assertion does not mean that those with African ancestry must identify as black–there is no pressure to associate with blackness.  The conscious objective is not to “convince” folk that they are black, but embracing those who do.

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Tell em’ why they mad son’

black_pride_rectangle_magnetYet, the issue with the post was not so much my analysis of Cardi, but that me, a person of the black collective not only understands the unmatched contribution of blacks to the globe, but possesses the confidence to shout it from the mountaintops.

I, like countless other blacks who stand up despite the pervasive expectation that blacks must lie down and take the exploitation and appropriation violently  handed to them by those inside and outside the black diaspora, endure the labels of “bitter” and “angry.” Labels that function to cloud black confidence with the same negativity–namely bitterness, anger, and hate– that foments our continued disenfranchisement.

The animosity that accompanied this post, mirrors the animosity endured by the outspoken black deemed bitter, angry, and difficult by whites threatened by blacks who articulate an incisive understanding of what has been designed to destroy them.

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Am I Black Enough to Be Black Person? 

dascha-polanco-brooklyn-high-school-vibe-compressed
Dascha Polanco, of Orange is The New Black (Netflix)

The question is not and never has been whether an individual is “black enough,” but how present blackness is in the life and identity of a person who considers themselves black. Light skin does not discount one’s blackness, as Prince, Michael Jackson, and Beyonce, while flawed, have never stated that they are not black. Rihanna, though a black woman, has never identified as a black woman—Amber Rose, though birthed from a black woman discounts her blackness—though both reap the benefits and support from black people and their proximity to blackness, and also function to illustrate the pervasive ideology that the black female form oozes an animistic sexuality.

Orange is the New Black actress to Dascha Polanco, on the other hand, an African of Dominican displacement, has openly proclaimed herself as a black woman, although she plays a Puerto Rican woman on the series. Thus, the issue is not whether you are of African ancestry, but whether you function as a black person. Cardi B, and Bruno Mars have African ancestry, but do not function as black people. Having black blood does not make you black, its about owning your blackness and not treating blackness as a fair-weather friend. It’s about enduring the good, bad, and ugly of the black experience.

It’s about understanding the road you walk on as paved in the blood and bones of your brethren. It’s about joining forces with your black brethren, about aiding in the production of black commerce, be it economical or intellectual—not using black people, black support, or black currency as a key to enter the master’s house.

job-applicationRather than accuse me of dividing the black collective, I encourage those who identify as Afro-Latino, or Latinx to consider the ways they function to divide the collective. Particularly, do you check “black” or “hispanic”?  “Hispanic,” “Latin,” etc all function similar to terms “mixed” and “biracial.” They are mythic labels implemented to divide the black collective. Thus, by calling yourself any of these names, an individual becomes a facet of a collective war waged against black people.

Namely, the systemic distinction between “black” and “hispanic” is a deliberate act implemented by those who observe a place at the top of the hierarchical structure to divide the black collective with an implication that black and hispanic/latino are mutually exclusive. So rather than ask me whether your displacement in the diaspora or bilinguality qualifies you as black, ask yourself whether you are black enough to check black on paper?

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They Worked Hard for All You Have

As seen in countless countries populated with Africans displaced in the transatlantic slave trade like Brazil and Haiti, blacks displaced in the United States sacrificed  for centuries to engender modern (temperate) liberties. Our efforts, while birthing many feats,  have largely knocked down the door for many throughout the diaspora who voluntarily flee to the US to get places that that young boy or girl in the projects will never obtain an opportunity to visit even on a school trip. Contrary to popular belief, this young boy or girl that does not get a chance to seize his or her full potential does not reflect lack of ambition or motiviation. This illustrates how white supremacists have succeeded in no-colored-allowed-black-americana-cast-iron-sign-10x4_220665307171dividing and conquering the black collective, how the white supremacist society has succeeded in using our own siblings to systemically disenfranchise their own people.

(If you read this reference in the comments under my original Cardi B. post, I apologize for my redundancy.)

In her autobiography, Assata Shakur delineates the divide and conquer technique in an anecdote from her childhood. She recalls a summer trip to an amusement park where she and her family were initially refused because of the color of her skin. Once her mother begins to speak Spanish, they gain access to the park. Shakur concludes the anecdote with the following reflection:

” Anybody, no matter who they were, could come right off the boat and get more rights and respect than Amerikan-born blacks” (Shakur 28). 

Were, Assata and her family any less black then when they first tried to gain entry?

Not all.

But at that moment, their blackness took a backseat to the mechanism, or in this case language, manipulated to grant them a cruel duality, where their blackness birthed their exclusion, but the foreign nature of their blackness garnered their temperate inclusion.  Thus, they opted out of blackness in order to opt into a white space.

too-blackTo celebrate Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, and others employed in the same malevolent intentions to maintain the stagnancy of the African displaced in North American as occupying the base of American society, is to wave and smile at those granted entry to a space you were “too black” to attend.

Yes, I am saying that there are plenty of children lacking Bruno Mars, and Cardi’s racial “choice” that exceed their talent, but will never get the chance because they are “too black” to be anything but a rapper, or a “star” on Love and Hip Hop.

afro-latinoTo this I would aptly engage criticisms of those who perform a similar deed in  vacationing and staying at resorts where their brethren are suffering. To vacation at resorts when our diasporic brethren are rendered invisible by the culturally unenlightened and those indulging in a selective amnesia, who eat shrimp cocktail where diasporic Africans barely have enough to eat, is to also occupy a space established on the exclusion of your kinfolk.

But this is not the criticism.

The criticism is my failure to celebrate those who have the ability to choose whether they function as black. As a black person not subject to this choice, it is essential to my individual and collective survival to note that having black ancestry or a black ancestor does not make you black. People like Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Zoe Saldana, Christina Milian, etc,. have an option whether or not to identify with their black forefathers and foremothers in a way that author Wallace Thurman, singer Sam 5bca5ff33de4c8f97e6b70b06d3b22daCooke, and activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  did not.

This criticism, in its abundance and fiery presence under my initial Cardi B, post, proves an unintentional declaration of the low regard to which blacks displaced in North America are held. We are expected to smile in the face of a division that discounts our humanity to not seem divisive to those who imbue temperate benefits in the collective bludgeoning of black people from the white strategy of divide and conquer.

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Conclusion: What Happened When I “came for” Cardi B. 

So what happens when you “come for” Cardi B? 31ec281578fbbc9806eaf21d758113b8.1000x563x1

You are accused of lacking blackness in a failure to comply to the stereotypical traits expected of black people. It means being accused of dividing a people, while simultaneously subject to the division imbued in an accusation that me, a bearer of the black female form, “jumped Spanish girls in high school because they had better hair than me.” (actual quote)

I want to specify that I never “came for” Cardi B., I simply articulated a stance against cultural exploitation and appropriation encouraged and featured on the white media. I simply stood up for my people and my culture, and the aftermath illustrated diasporic blackness with regards to the black displaced in North America, as more abjected and ostracized than any article I could ever write.

So what happens, when you come for Cardi B?

White people everywhere snicker while the African displaced in Latin America and the  052217-Shows-BETX-Cardi-B-1x1Caribbean sulk in the exposition of the envy they hold for those they seek to emulate, but remain reluctant to appreciate  and truly identify as.

This envy solely comes from those who pledge an allegiance to an African identity they do not truly feel, who separate rather than sync themselves with their displaced sibling separated on the ship that did not not sever our bloodline, but parted our bodies.

Bodies that in some way, shape, or form face the option (at varying degrees) to “opt” out of blackness, to become a weapon used against those born from the same continental womb, be it via skin color, hair texture, education, tax bracket, ethnicity, etc.

All the conscious community asks is a non-fickle choice to embrace or ignore blackness in part and whole, and to refute any and all options to work against your people.

While the systemic crippling of black folk throughout the diaspora, make it nearly impossible for the average black person, despite their placement in the diaspora, to travel or relocate from one drop-off to the next, in enjoying the richness of a 39diasporic culture,  we, as Africans, must remain mindful of how our bodies can easily transition from familial to fatal.

In journeying to the places where our abducted brethren created culture out of kidnapping (in travel or migrancy), our goals should never be to get in with the master, but to get in with our people.

Thus, my issue with Cardi B, Bruno Mars and other diasporic Africans turned “hispanic” “Afro-Latino” or “American success story,” is not so much their selective blackness (for those who argue that they function as black at all), but that their goal is not to get in with black people, but to get in the black mind and purse. To get into spaces created by those raped to birth the privilege they presently observe.

Nevertheless, there is no shame in refusing to claim those who do not claim you, but there is great shame and entitlement exhibited by those who perceive blacks with the same disdain as our colorless counterparts yet demand support from those they see as subjugates.

So what happened when a being of black female form “came for” Cardi B?

She was reminded that all desire central placement in blackness, but few actually desire blackness.

*Members of the black collective need not occupy their time or thoughts with those who do not claim them, or only claim black to attain access to some benefit. Which is why I choose to end my post here :-).

Black Power, and all Power to the People Who Truly Identify as Black.

*The author places “Afro-Latino” in quotations as she includes all factions of diaspora in her use of the term “black” unless indicated otherwise. 

Going Natural: Things That Happen on The Journey to an Elevated Consciousness

When most speak of going natural they mean freeing African hair from chemicals. This. liberating journey can be long, draining, and discouraging. The results however are unimaginable. Yes, returning your hair to its natural state is a tedious and gradual process, but even more so is freeing your mind from the chemicals of white supremacy.

Here are are 41 things that happen on the journey to a higher consciousness.

  1. You begin to question your insanity. It becomes quite unclear whether you are unwell, or if others around you are sick.  

”The hot dark blood of that forefather—born king of men—is beating at my heart and I know I am ether a genius or a fool.” WEB Dubois.

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2. It becomes very hard to purchase anything that is not a necessity, from.a white or non-black establishment
3. Things like going to the movies, or going out to eat are not the same. Notably, they do not provide the intended purpose to escape to the conscious mind
4. Individualism becomes a thing of the past. You care less about being exceptional, beautiful, smart, successful as conceptualized by the western gaze, and more into achieving a collective greatness
5. You become more alienated from people and things of whom you were once inseparable 
6. Working with whites or non-blacks becomes extremely challenging, if not impossible
7. Living through purpose is not “an” option anymore, it’s the only option

 

9672258. You’re called racist a lot.
9. Being called racist makes you laugh in its ignorance and impossibility.
10. Finding love isn’t about romance, it’s about finding that person that proves a gateway to deepening a collective black love
11. You become less judgmental but more observant and strategic
12. Down time isn’t for television or idleness, but creation and collective uplifting
13. You become very critical of celebrated blacks, and create your own heroes, most of fannywhom are obscure to most
14. Material and money are not as desirable as time and purpose
15. You see the difference between true blackness and those with just black skin.
Annoyed woman, stop it16. You regard whites with an indifference that paralyzes their need for hyper-visibility and reassurance from blacks
17. You do not have to look in the mirror to see your African beauty
18. You feel a sense of pride in supporting your own and inspiring others to do the same maxresdefault
19. You gradually start to increase water consumption and cut downs on breads, cheese, sugars and all other foods unnatural to the African body
20. You view praise for the African entertainer or athlete as an insult to black potential
21. You find yourself spending more time alone—often deemed insufferable by whites and pretentious by blacks not yet on a journey to consciousness

22. Your thirst for black culture becomes insatiable. You find yourself buying books incessantly and devouring them like water, listening to old speeches and looking at old pictures77fa1514e62d3e8a3efd85e564fa0987
23. You notice others often “put on a show” of black pride in your presence

24. You find yourself disinterested in any western holidays 

25. You become indifferent to birthdays, vacations, and other tokens of western conception used to induce vanity and distraction 9acd2e3f597297dffc77c19ac8d0a114--black-women-quotes-black-women-art

26. You no longer apologize for possessing and articulating a  black state of mind, or feel the need to dilute your blackness in “mixed” company

27. You have one melanated friend who calls/texts just to get your perspective on “black” issues

28. You regard every “death,” “murder,” or incarceration of blacks with suspicion150717-sandra-bland-01_501031590f7638412a10ec28ab8ea9ef.nbcnews-fp-360-360

29. You know that proof is a means to ease questions, so you take it at face value. Proof isn’t proof in white america, it’s hush info 

30. Your biggest fear is not unemployment or even death, but being an Uncle Tom or Aunt Thomasina, or any weak representation of blackness

31. You don’t see whites who adopt black children, or take on black adults or children as projects as generous, but self-righteous white saviors 

tumblr_inline_mngo5dsXbQ1qmqjtx32. You become more empathetic to the burdens facing black people 

33. You are turned off by the “Divine 9” and see it as weakness if not one of the many forms of contemporary slavery

34. You find yourself laughing less, and thinking more

35. You know that gay rights, the muslim ban, and feminism are all means to deflect focus from blacks and racism 

36. You laugh internally at those who use the term “woke,” because often these are the most unconscious 1*jCmq9xNkwjcDVXjv6nolEw

37. You shirk most social media—seeing it for the mental poison it is 

38. You don’t align “natural” hair, dashikis, “hotep” language as signs of blackness. Looking black is fashionable to some, but a lifestyle to the truly conscious 

39. You find it hard to trust or respect those of African ancestry who look outside the race for love or acceptance

40. You prefer overt prejudice and racism, to the smiling racist as it is often far less confusing to the masses.

41. What most call Egypt, you call Kemet- “land of the blacks”

 

kemet

 

The journey to consciousness is not easy.  It can be lonely, and extremely difficult–but it’s worth it.

See you at the mountaintop!

Black Power ❤

What Death Teaches the Living

On July 17, 2014 my father and I found my aunt, his older sister, deceased in her apartment. She had passed days prior to our visit, much to our oblivion.

We drove to My Aunt’s apartment after her nurse called my father and informed him that she missed treatment. My aunt went to dialysis a few times a week to treat her kidney disease. The illness had seized most of her leisure time, she was noticeably darker and withered unhealthily to a thin frame from her once healthy plus-sized figure. She tried hard to be the person she always was— outspoken, unbothered and funny. She never stopped being those things but in hindsight I think she new her fate was approaching. I think most of us get to a point where we know, some sooner then others. Perhaps all members of the human race can feel the hot breath of death at the brink of their transition. However, blacks can anticipate that like their lives, their transition will be unfair, and most likely traumatic to them and those that they love.

My aunt’s death was sudden and violent. I say violent because to die is one thing, but the burden of feeling like she was neglected or alone hangs heavily in my mind.

The last text she sent me read:

Baby I'm home.

If the coroner is right, shortly after this message she transitioned. She was home, but not in her second floor apartment in a Brooklyn complex, but her home in the sky.

I find peace knowing that my late grandmother is reunited with her beloved daughter, her only girl. My peace is disturbed in remembering how itemized my aunt became in her death.

In On Blackness and Being, Dr. Christina Sharpe revisits the Zorgue tragedy where hundreds of Abducted Africans were tossed from a slave ship ship to obtain an insurance allocation. To the European kidnappers, black bodies were merely capital. My aunt's transition evoked a similar reality. Once her body fell over the ship of white supremacy, she became cause for collection.

Death proves a dual blow to those of the black collective forced to deal with personal healing with regard to loss of a loved one, and the collective tragedy of understanding the devalued black body.

The Unsightly black body

Sullied by a posthumous deterioration accelerated in the summer heat, the coroner admonished my father and I with regard to seeing my aunt’s face after death.
“I can show it to you, but it’s very disturbing to look at,” said the coroner. Instead my dad would identify parts of her in a plastic bag via picture at the morgue—where she lay dismembered like her ancestors reduced to limbs and organs in both life and death. Frozen in time—neither of us would see her face again. Instead, the casket, like the chapter in life that included her humor and style, would be closed due to “her condition.”

Prior to the service, we’d call the morgue just before they shipped her off to potter’s field. I suppose the condition of a decomposing sickly body had signaled to the officials that she was unloved and destined to perish in a shared whole in the ground like the abducted Africans tossed into what is now the African burial grounds.

Packing Up a Life Lived

While the physical burial grounds of the deceased are a source of despondency, so is the residence of the deceased abandoned in their departure. Notably, one of the most heartbreaking and tedious components of death is clearing out the belongings of the deceased from their place of residence. During this process, an unemployed neighbor of my aunts who did not attend the funeral, informed my father and I that she and my aunt had discussed her obtaining her fridge.

While my father struggled to accept that his sister was gone, this woman saw my aunt as a means to get something for virtually nothing. While we knew they lived in a similar complex, we had no idea whether this woman was even an acquaintance of my aunt, let alone a friend. I remember watching in horror and rage as she dug through the garbage can to examine the items tossed from aunt’s apartment.  This moment sank my stomach in a disgust unfamiliar to me before this incident. This comment and behavior, while to most an ignorant yet innocuous act of an opportunist, symbolizes a black female who will eventually succumb to a similar posthumous objectification, itemize another black woman as an act of oppressive hypnosis.

This oppressive hypnosis distorts our collective ability to identify with one another outside of survival. Thus, white supremacy renders blacks into an animalistic state casting blacks as vultures that latch onto the flesh of our deceased to nurture a systemic deprivation.

A Financial Burden

With regard to deprivation, it is imperative to note that the black body becomes an object of contention when seen to deprive the western world of its destiny, or simply put: money. .

To tie up all loose financial ends, I called the credit union to close my aunt's account. In her sudden death the account was inactive–the proper funds not allocated to cover monthly fees. The representative yelled at me that it was my responsibility to pay my aunt's deficit.

There was no discussion of options given my aunt's transition. No condolences. Just a callous demand by a genetically melanated individual embarrassingly dedicated to itemizing the black body to obtain underserving funds for his master.

Similarly, when my grandfather passed, the hospice called my mother repeatedly to “identify the body.” My grandfather no longer had a name or purpose, as the employees of he hospice were most interested in casting my grandfather overboard an illusive ship. To us my grandfather was a man, father, husband, grandfather. To the western gaze, my grandfather was merely taking up space.

The cavalier disregard afforded to the black body is a systemic truth which bears a testament to our inhumane status in American culture. Black desire to transition into personhood is a consistent struggle. Aspiring to live in a world that cannot seemingly wait to cast the black body overboard dead or alive, is a consistent battle for those afforded the stagnancy of systemic oppression.

The Morgue

One of the most troubling moments of the whole ordeal was the scent of the morgue to which my father and I visited to identify my Aunt's body. The morgue stunk of death and decay, proving that cyclical disenfranchisement, while possessing many looks, bore a singular smell of rotten flesh. In life, this scent is often veiled by perfumes, or the aroma of wealth and material gluttony. In death, the cyclical imbalance and disregard extended to black bodies bears an unmasked, and pervasive scent. The scent —vulgar and pungent—sears through the nostrils and embeds itself into the brain. If there were any doubt that your loved one was not to return to the place they held in your life, the scent reminded you of what had become of them.

But to the black body, this decay starts long before death, and far before birth. The black body began its decaying process in its voyage over the Trans-Atlantic, a decaying process that continued in the fields and houses of the plantation, in the Jim Crow South, during integrative efforts and throughout the contemporary colorblind initiatives. The black body decays in the poisonous food placed in our communities, in the vile pollution ingrained into our minds via school, television, and popular culture. To be black is to be in a constant state of deterioration, a state reversed solely in becoming awakened by a spiritual consciousness. Without this consciousness we remain coerced passengers on a ship whose ultimate destination is our destruction.

In Closing

It was a ship that carried us over to the stolen terrain of North America, and still holds us captive. A spiritual consciousness allows the black Diaspora to steer this ship out of oblivion, assimilation, and self- destruction into a collective determination to which our drowned ancestors from the Zorgue and those worked, burned and beaten to death, hold hands with descendants mentally scarred by their demise and upraised to our rightful place as kings and queens.

In remembering my aunt and her departure from this world, I remember all the nameless bodies of the black diaspora handed a similar fate. But whether cast off a ship, scattered into the earth’s flesh, or placed into the ground, the dead are hardly gone. While we may not be able to walk alongside the ancestors, elders, and peers who have left us, they are the ground we walk on and the wind that nestles behind our ears letting us know they are resting in a power we still have time to cultivate in life.

Black Power. ❤

 

 

Blacks As Accessories in Racial Terrorism

While our outward appearance showcases only a portion of our character, accessories work to showcase the concealed components of identity. Upon saying the word accessory most think of bracelets, watches, rings, scarves or some other tangible material goods. However, contemporary society has depicted a transition from accessories as inanimate object to living thing. This transition was initially debuted through the toting of small dogs, most notably seen by socialite Paris Hilton and Grammy award winning singer Mariah Carey in the early 2000s. Currently, this transition is most commonly seen in celebrity children, who are often toted like the latest designer bag.

With regard to the transition of accessories from inanimate to human, this post will evaluate the ways in which black bodies are used to accessorize intention and ideology. For the validation of black presence does not come in the form of action, but with an association. This association often veils racialized violence, and a conduit to urban appeal.

I. The Black Arm Candy

To have a black spouse is a political statement. Despite the reasoning behind the choice, the pairing of individual speaks volumes. A politician can claim to be an advocate to the poor or the disenfranchised, but this advocation achieves a new level of credibility if his significant other is from a disenfranchised faction.

The influx of black partnerships  within popular culture is particularly telling. This partnership is particular interesting with regard to black women. Despite full lips and round derrières being of contemporary intrigue, the attachment of these attributes to black woman has rarely been seen as beautiful. Thus the black woman as “arm candy” should work to assert the placement of blackness into the realm of beauty, but instead makes a statement about whom the black woman stands besides. As mentioned in a previous post, a black woman can never be arm candy, as her presence is plagued with politics. Thus, her presence is often a conduit for those who she stands beside to transcend the politics associated with her blackness.

R and B crooners Jon B and Robin Thicke appeal to the black female buyer through their smooth sound, but mostly because they both were in unions with black women. Would their “down” persona be as believable if their wives looked less like the women of their targeted demographic? The answer to this question is issued with two words : Justin Timberlake. Justin has been waiting by the mail for his “black card” since he wore cornrows on the red carpet over a decade ago. Every solo album has featured his endless collaborations with countless black artists and producers, and he has yet to shake the pop label. The closest JT has ever come to a black woman is in the Love Sex and Magic video that co starred singer/dancer Ciara. Because of his failure to possess a “black accessory” JT’s urban attempts lack authenticity, as his attempt at being soulful appears as faulty as it is.

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The credibility of public figure personas is solely based on their image, which thoroughly relies on whom these artists surround themselves with, making the presence of these black bodies not only prevalent, but essential in this transition.

II. The Black Creator (black producer)

This concept is best illustrated by non black artists who consult black producers and choreographers to draw from the influence of the African diaspora. These producers and choreographers allow these acts to achieve an “urban” appeal, while still being mainstream. This is seen in former Disney star Miley Cyrus, who hired famed producers Pharrell and will.i.am to foster her transition from Disney to dancer. These associations mark an alleviation of past purity through presumed sullied black bodies. Due to the black influence being in the background, these acts still appeal to a mostly majority audience who craves an “urban” or even slightly soulful sound from someone who looks like them. This has also been seen in acts like Jennifer Lopez, who sought to capitalize on the profit of the black community, so she embarked on a number of collaborations with rappers from Ja Rule to Jadakiss. Also in the early 2000s we saw NSYNC try to expand from their majority adolescent fan base through their collaboration with rapper Nelly on the girlfriend song.

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III. The Black Surveyor

This is perhaps the only item on the list that is more vastly seen in everyday life and not in popular culture. This person is often employed by a non black to oversee the actions of black people. I suppose their black body is used as insight into what is presumed to be innate behavior. Because the person following you down the aisle shares the same skin color as the presumed offender, business owners attempt to alleviate themselves from the reality of their racist practices.

Although, it didn’t make sense until much later, I was a black surveyor myself . At the tender age of 19, I worked my first retail job. The retail position was slightly upscale as my paycheck was more money than I had ever earned at that point in my life, but with more money came more problems. One of the managers, a Kate Beckinsale look alike, always asked me to “help” the black and Afro Latina shoppers. As my senses grew more keen, I realized I was only asked to help or greet the clients believed to be black, as a means to shield the racist intentions of my employer. This manager was later fired for her actions.

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The black surveyor is a common sight in many black neighborhoods, and the commonality of this behavior has in many ways desensitized its significance. However, the act of mirroring the victim in an act of further disenfranchisement is an act of racial terrorism. The act of coercing an oppressed person to oppress those kindred to their struggle, harms the part and whole of a disenfranchised faction, simultaneously.

IV. The Black Friend
aka
But some of my best friends are black!

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With regard to popular culture, the black friend surfaces in movies with a predominately white cast. In this case a black character is inserted to present minimal diversity, in an otherwise entirely white or non black movie/show. These “black friend” characters are typically one dimensional, as their presence lacks purpose outside of filling a quota.

In life outside the movies, these “black friends” are often mentioned as a means to substantiate and individual’s self proclaimed engagement with diversity. The term “friend” is often used very loosely, as it often references a classmate, mail man or service provider that the speaker treats cordially and uses as an example of his or her humanity despite not actually seeing these people as friends. The very idea that treating a black person cordially, or even categorizing friends by race, veils a racist ideology that would suggest that it is normative to ignore or treat said people poorly.

V. The Black Skin White Mask

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This category is very similar to the previous section, as it pertains to black presence solicited for a particular purpose.  In order to fulfill a network or company’s “commitment to diversity” a black body is planted in said environment. This black body is solicited for commentary on any and all racial issues despite his or hers personal detachment from the politics of blackness

Perhaps it is easy for those outside the black diaspora to assume affiliation based on skin color. While these black faces initially draw in black viewers upon the belief that they will be represented,these black faces veil white ideologies which only help foster white superiority, and further alienate black audiences on news stations, talk shows and other outlets that commonly feature said blacks.

VI. The Occasional Black

This person is typically of “mixed” ancestry, possessing a racially ambiguous look. Due to the absence of what are seen as traditional race attributes, this individual is placed and displaced from blackness as deemed necessary.

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Despite their temperate affiliation with the black race, this actor or actresses will be cast a lead in a black movie as their presence will enable the feature to embody a mainstream appeal. This individual’s complexion and features are often altered depending on the targeted audience. This actor of actress can be placed in movies intended for black and non-black audiences as their blackness as their level of blackness is often deemed non threatening, and therefore not alienating to majority audiences. Specifically, skin tone may be darkened or lightened depending on the audience, nose and lips may also be contoured to look more or less full to establish phenotype allegiance to a designated audience.

While this occasional black may certainly have his or her own issues with identity, their presence in popular culture, and even the workplace represent an anxiety around truly diversifying a traditionally homogenous environment. Thus, having an individual that can be attributed to the black and non black diaspora as needed, prevents some from having to properly acknowledge and resolve their anxieties surrounding blackness.

Closing Thoughts

Social and Political Terrorism earned its prevalence thirteen years ago following the devastating yet humbling acts of 9/11. However, racial terrorism has been present since the first slave ships docked on the coasts of America. Blacks have been terrorized by race traditionally and continued to be impacted by the bounds of race, possibly more so in a society that feeds fallacies of racial resolution.

Being black in America, places a black individual in a constant state of looking for themselves. In the initial bliss of finding yourself in a seemingly positive or harmless place, many blacks are placed in a position to be racially terrorized by a strategically placed black body. So while the engagement with black bodies, be it for business or pleasure may appear to be a testament to the changing times, blackness is inevitably political. As demonstrated in this post, the politics of blackness has provided a means for some to shield ill intentions with a promising gesture.